The Parenting Shift

At 6:00 am on Monday, I put my son Jacob on the bus with his grade seven class to St Donat. He was incredibly excited to ski (especially since there was no snow this holiday) and share a room with four boys and no adult, and to eat his Bulk Barn snacks on the bus – and these priorities are probably not in the right order. This trip was a huge deal.

My daughter was equally thrilled and she would do a little dance in the days before he left as she planned her life as an only child. (This included a dinner at a restaurant of her choice last night).

I admit that I was also excited. Jacob got an Xbox for Christmas, and Call of Duty has been pounding through our house ever since. The thought of four days without wet towels on the floor, sibling squabbles, and leftovers that we could actually count on eating the next day for dinner was appealing.

So as I stood with the other parents in the dark, waving to the bus – the kids didn’t even glance our way – I was surprised at my feelings. I thought I was going to celebrate the quiet and feel happy that he was going on a fun trip. Instead, I had a pang of this: I’m going to miss my baby boy, and I’m not ready to let him go.

So I have been focusing this week on making a shift: I need to celebrate all that he will become from experiences away from home. This is not about me (Did I just admit that??)

Last month, the Boston Globe ran a great article called Welcome to the Age of Over-parenting that explores the need for today’s parents to let their kids have more freedom and take more risks. I learned in that article that Michael Thomson is writing a book entitled Homesick and Happy: How Children Change and Grow When They Are Away From Their Parents. He is conducting a survey on his website about parents who have let their kids go to camp or abroad. He wants to remind parents that children grow and change when they are away from home. His research naturally made me think about our Collaborative Boarding Project, and I submitted a question to Michael to see if he might expand his research to explore the benefits of boarding school.

But for now, back to Jacob who is on the bus home as I write this blog. Before leaving, he told me that they were warned that if they misbehaved on the trip, they would be sent home early in a limo. I told him that if he was put in that limo, he should figure out a new address because he wasn’t coming home. I think he knew I was joking.

I just got a call from a happy and tired boy. And I’m thankful to report, he’s on the bus.

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