Sunday, February 24, 2013

Fly the Coop

I was making his bed.

My son, Sam is 8-years old and by all accounts old enough to be making his own bed...but I do it, every morning.

Mostly, because I'm a control freak and like the way the bed looks when I do it and also because the little bit of time we have before getting out the door for school doesn't seem to merit it.

But the other day, I was up on his bunk bed (he inhabits the top) and he was laying on the floor lamenting getting out of his pj's and into clothes for the day.

"You know when you go to college, you'll have to make your own bed.  You want to keep a clean space for your roommate.  And who knows?  Maybe your best friend will end up going off to college with you."

"I'm not going away to college," he says matter-of-factly.

"Going away is a blast.  Both papa and I did and had so much fun.  You get to meet new people, see new things, and have really cool experiences."

"Nope. I'm staying right here."

While biting my tongue, I let it go.  All of it.  My desire to scream at the top of my lungs that going away to college is so important.  That traveling abroad, studying another culture, language, and religion changes you in a way that is almost indescribable.  Getting outside of your comfort zone and having to clean up your own messes literally and figuratively is transformational.

But in that moment, my 8-year old just wanted the creature comforts of home and I get that.  But sooner, rather than later, I pray that he sees the power and benefit of leaving the nest.  Not simply to inhabit one that is a short car ride away, but one that is many moons away that requires time, effort  and money to get to.

After sharing this dialogue with my husband, he retorted with..."You know, he might just want different things out of life. And that's okay."

To which I thought, want different things out of life?  How can you know what you want out of life until you go and explore what the world has to offer?  How can you know who you are in your own skin until you're stretched farther and thinner than you thought possible?

Nope.  I think I'll draw a line in the sand with my three kiddos.  They'll be required to go away and do something for at least a year.  And then, if they miss Omaha and the comforts of our home, well, then, we'll talk. 

Maybe I'm being a hard ass or maybe I'll be singing a different tune when they're in high school and want nothing to do with me...but I feel that I'd be remiss if I didn't encourage them to fly the coop.

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