At this very moment, my oldest, Bryce, is on a plane headed for Florida for his spring break... on his own. It has been a nerve-wracking several weeks. When he first came to us with the plan, he said that a friend offered him a place to stay in their condo for spring break. He thought he would just drive down to take up the offer. Just. drive. down. ???? Seriously.
We explained to him that he's never driven a long distance like that before and if he was going to be driving for 17 hours, he would need someone along to spell him. The next day he arrived home from school glowing with the news that his friend, Ross, could drive down with him and spell him. Um, no. Two teen boys in a Ford Mustang on a cross-country trip - not quite ready for that yet, either.
So, I began to scheme another plan. My parents live only two hours away from his destination and in the long decade they've been there, we've never been to visit them (sad, I know). I suggested that Bryce and I do the drive and I take the two younger boys along for a visit to their grandparents after dropping Bryce off at the condo.
I began to get kind of excited about the trip. Sure, we'd be in the car for two solid days down and two solid days back, but it would be an adventure and I'd get to visit my parents and show the boys the ocean for the first time. We're not the type of family who take vacations like this usually. The last time I went to Florida was back when Bryce was five or six and we flew to visit my sister there, when she was living in Key West. We had a marvelous time. We went on a glass-bottom boat, did other touristy things, and had a nice visit with my sister and her family. Another trip to Florida was sounding good.
Then, my van began to make an odd whining noise whenever I accelerate. It's just a small noise, but enough to make me leery of taking on a cross-country trip in it. I suggested I take my husband's truck, but his gas guage isn't working and he merely keeps track of how far he's gone to know when to refill the tank. I wouldn't want to run out of gas, so I didn't feel comfortable with that option either.
In the meantime, Bryce claimed to have possibly found another ride. He knew he had a ride home (with a family whose husband was driving down, but had to fly back mid-week to return to work, leaving an extra seat in their vehicle). But the ride down fell through and we were back at making a decision about the drive down.
I think both my husband and mother-in-law were hesitant to allow me to make the trip. So, we purchased a one-way flight for Bryce (with gas expenses and a hotel for two nights during the drive time, probably cheaper in the long run). Thankfully, we were able to find a spot on a direct flight (no layovers or chances to miss connecting flights). Still, I have been full of anxiety about his taking this big step on his own. My husband says I'm a needless worrier. After all, he's almost 18 ... he ought to be able to handle this.
Still, when I left him at the entrance to the gates this morning, still needing to go through security checks and find the right gate and board the right plane, I felt nervous for him. I'm hoping he manages to board the right flight, secure his luggage at the other end, and find the family who offered him a spot at their condo (they are flying in a little later than Bryce). I'm hoping he doesn't burn significantly (he already got a slight burn at a tanning bed while preparing for the extensive sun exposure), doesn't have his wallet or belongings lost or stolen, doesn't get into any form of trouble down there, and most of all, has a great time on his final spring break for his high school years (he's never really gone anywhere for spring break while all of his friends head off almost every year to some exotic location).
I know he's almost considered an adult, but I still feel like a momma bird watching her little one fly off on his own for the first time. I'm sure the anxiety is normal. I'm also feeling a little depressed over the whole thing. I was actually looking forward to the adventure of a trip and now I'm facing a week at home with two squabbling boys who need physical activity, while the weather here continues to be frigid, wet, and unaccommodating. We plan to take them to Sky Zone and to a laser tag facility at some point during the week. Plus, there's the option of driving down to Bedford, Indiana, to ride in a boat in an underground cave.
Hopefully, Bryce will have a wonderful experience. We will survive our week at home. And one day, we'll make it down to Florida (with Dad along, would be my preference) to visit my parents and perhaps even take in Disney World. I looked up a glass-bottom boat in Ocala, Florida. That would be nice, as well.
Update: He called to say he arrived safely but his bag wasn't on the carousel. He gave the baggage claim guy all his information and waited there for a half hour before the woman who accidentally took his luggage came back with it. He said her luggage didn't even look that similar and had a pink tag on it. He was so mad he told her to learn to read next time - yikes! Thankful he is there and his luggage situation was ironed out.