My Son Went To Europe And All I Got Was This Postcard

As our son prepared to leave for Europe on a school trip last week, we laid out the three expectations we had of him:

  1. Be safe and obey the rules.
  2. Have fun and learn.
  3. Bring home great memories and stories.

That’s all.

We travel regularly. Not often by our standards, because if it were up to a family vote and not budget constraints we’d be hopping on a plane every two months to explore new places or revisit old favourites, but often enough that our kids are seasoned travellers. We choose travel over most anything else. Bou took his first flight as a 3-month old and hasn’t stopped since then.

It was a given, or at least a hope, that D and I would raise kids who have the urge and courage to explore, and in this regard we seem to be succeeding. When the school proposed a trip to Europe, Bou made it clear he wanted to go and would do what it took to get there. That was one year ago. Today marks one week since the plane took off with my baby on board.

As a mother with a few hardly noticeable — negligible, really — control issues (fix your shirt and sit up straight, please), letting him literally fly out of the nest was in part difficult and also the easiest thing I’ve done. On the one hand he’s a teen, so there are gaps in his memory and the occasional flightiness. But the flip side is that he’s following the example we’re setting and we’ve given him tools, if he remembers them.

Would he remember to hold his passport and boarding pass just so, so that there’s no risk of losing the boarding pass? It’s pages-side into the palm, by the way. I’ve seen too many stray boarding passes littering airport floors not to have taught my kids that lesson.

Would he remember that his important personal belongings do not ever EVER go into the airplane seat pocket? Ask any flight attendant how many passports, glasses, and iPads they’ve found over the years.

Would he remember to set his alarm? He’s not a morning person.

Would he remember to repack his things and do a double check of the room as they moved on to new destinations? I only say it every time we travel.

Would he remember to try new things? Our philosophy is when in Rome

Would he remember to go to a bank machine when his money ran out? I’m usually the bank machine.

Would he remember to soak it all in? If we’ve taught him well, he will.

On the days leading up to the trip we discussed these questions and others, until he reminded his (only slightly worried) maman that he’d been doing this — this travel thing — for a long time, that I didn’t need to remind him again, and that there was no need to worry. He’d be fine.

He’d be fine.

I had a lump in my throat as I watched my young man walk off with his classmates and teachers, set to experience something without the safety net of Maman and Papa watching his back. And he is a young man. No longer the little boy who needed to hold my hand as we crossed the street. Far removed from the three year old who fell asleep in my arms every night when we were in Barbados for my brother’s wedding. A young man, but still my baby whose back I’m watching. A sweet and sometimes surly teen who laughs easily, forgets to call home when he’s at a friend’s house, stays up too late doing homework, gets grouchy when he’s tired, and is mature enough to fly off to explore another continent without us.

As I drove home I realized that the lump in my throat was mainly pride.

post card, postcard, Postale app, Dieppe, beach, school trip, son, travel

Throwback Thursdays and Crocheted Vests

Thursdays have become Throwback Thursday around the internet, or if you want to be down with the hashtaggery happening—of which I’m a willing and slightly addicted Instagram participant—#tbt.

Anyway, this post is basically an excuse to show you all a photo of D when he was in grade two and wore a crocheted vest for photo day. Crocheted! Like doilies that your Great-Auntie Phyllis gave you every year at Christmas even though you didn’t drink tea and were slightly creeped out by them thanks to having watched too many 1980s horror movies where all the Great-Aunts were axe-wielding, doily-knitting psychopaths living in drafty houses next to cemeteries. Just me?

I asked D if he was ok with me posting this photo:

Me: OHMYGOD that is the funniest picture. You are wearing a crocheted vest. My mother-in-law made it with love and slightly misguided intentions. I love my mother-in-law, but I’m glad she’s channeled her artistic side towards painting, is what I’m saying.

D: And?

Me: Crocheted clothes were real? And what about your hair? Did you lose a fight with your brothers?

D: My bangs needed a trim and the scissors were lying there.

Me: I might post this. Are you fine with me posting this? You know what, I’m just going to post this, okay?

D:

Most of our conversations run along these lines and it works for us. Whatever keeps your marriage hot, you guys.

So, here’s D … with his vest and Edward Scissorhands bangs:

school photo, crocheted vest, crochet, boy, bad haircut, humour, cute, photograph

And to be fair … here’s me wearing the t-shirt du jour with a collar that likely poked out a classmate’s eye.

school photo, girl, funny, cute, wide collar, 1970s, photograph

You decide who committed the biggest fashion faux pas.

PS. My husband was a cutie.

Oh What A Day

Oh What A Day

Life sometimes gives us smooth days. Ones that make us feel like an Olympic rower, slicing through glassy waters, unstoppable by anything but our own force or will. Then there are days that stop us cold. Circumstances, events, general crap crops up and we morph from graceful sculler to a third-rate performer in a back alley circus trying to keep the plates spinning, and failing.

I have so much to spill about Laos and family and eating in the jungle and how I’m sure the new session of boot camp this week is going to kill me, but today I’m spinning plates. Stressing won’t clean up the mess—Guys, I couldn’t even drink my coffee this morning, so you know it’s bad—so I’ll attack the problem and think of smoother days. Looking at pictures that let me breathe helps.

I’ll be back to rowing form soon.

Long Beach, Tofino, British Columbia, beach, Pacific Ocean, ocean, sand, waves, water forest, Canada, photograph, blue sky

Long Beach, Tofino

Amphitrite Lighthhouse, Wild Pacific Trail, Ucluelet, British Columbia, Pacific Ocean, lighthouse, ocean, shore rocky shore, rocks, waves, trees, water sunset, dusk, blue sky, photograph, West Coast Trail, Canada

Amphitrite Lighthouse on the Wild Pacific Trail.

Ucluelet, British Columbia, Canada, bald eagle, eagle, soaring, sky bird, wildlife, photography, bird of prey, beautiful

Bald eagle in Ucluelet.

 

Vancouver, British Columbia, ocean, Pacific Ocean, kids, children, beach combing, moss, rocks, rocky shore, Stanley Park seawall, Canada, photography, summer

These kids.

Seems a lot of my breathing happens in British Columbia.

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