Dec 16, 2013 0 Share

The Wild Blue Yonder


Illustration of man standing on top of globe with plane overhead.
Thinkstock

Cameron traveled to see his father this past weekend. Cameron has been flying independently for a number of years now, but I’m finding there are still ways I can allow him to flex his independence when it comes to travel. And there are still ways in which I can be supportive but give Cameron the opportunity to do things for himself.

In the past, I have always checked Cameron in for his flights, printed his boarding pass, and given him the details of where his seat and gate were. This time I showed him how to use Delta’s app on his phone, and instead of printing the boarding pass, I showed him the electronic boarding pass option. This boarding pass popping up on his lock screen the day of travel annoyed him immensely, but at least there wasn’t a chance of him not being able to access the pass when he needed it.

Cameron has long been responsible for packing his own bag, and has rarely missed a beat with this task. I was picking Cameron up from school, and then taking him straight to the airport, so he packed his bag the night before. When it was time for me to leave, I didn’t. I was in the middle of something so I was eating into the whopping five-minute cushion I had given myself. I went to get Cameron’s suitcase from his room, and there it sat … wide open with a huge pile of clothes wadded on top of it. I tried to close the suitcase around the wad, denying my compulsion to organize by article of clothing type, but the bag wouldn’t close. With a heavy sigh, and a mental note to point out this infraction to Cameron, I folded and stuffed, and got the case closed. I was in the car five minutes behind schedule. No problem. I like a challenge.

I got on the Beltway heading towards school, in the opposite direction of the airport. And in that direction towards the airport, traffic was at a standstill … mile after mile, as I went north, more people going south were going nowhere. This didn’t look good. My five-minute cushion times 10 would not have helped me in this situation. I arrived at school five minutes late and as Cameron got in the car, I discussed my displeasure with his idea of “packing.”

His response was, “Sor-REE.” (Most moms might have taken the bait of this typical snarky teen response. I’ll take anything typical from my not-so-typical teen I can get.)

We started our stressful journey to the airport in bumper-to-bumper traffic. I had talk radio on in the car so I could keep abreast of the traffic developments. Cameron donned his earphones. We were in silent agreement that discussing the probability of him missing his flight would not help matters. I tried to come up with a battle plan: Park and go in with him so I can be there if he needs to reschedule his flight? No, that would take too long. Drop him off and then park? I then had a “be strong” parenting talk with myself. Cameron needed to do this on his own. If he missed his flight, I would be on the other end of the phone, with advice on what to do next, but he needed to be the one to handle this.

I navigated around the worst traffic, and we were within five miles of the airport with 40 minutes to spare. I had just started to breathe a sigh of relief when traffic stalled again. I did my best at coaching Cameron on asking a TSA agent for permission to cut in line if there was a long wait at security. I realized how hard it is to give instructions when facing uncertain circumstances. How do you prepare for the worst when you aren’t aware of what the “worst” is? The best I could do was tell Cameron to go straight to the gate, no stopping at the men’s room, and text me when he got there.

Cameron made his flight, and my blood pressure is almost back to normal. Of course the lesson learned here is all mine: I need to listen to that inner voice more that tells me to let Cameron handle more on his own, without me nicely teeing everything up for him. And I’ll get back to using my stress energy for my Christmas shopping list, and leave Cameron to ask for help if and when he needs it.