Regards from the CIty of Ilheus: A beautiful region of North Eastern Brazil historically known for cocoa plantations and tourism. I write this post from the balcony of our wooden bungalow over looking the beautiful Atlantic Ocean and enjoying the gentle onshore breeze; my view framed by countless coconut trees and seranaded by a beautiful cacophony of singing birds. I sit here alone. I have nowhere to rush off to, no meeting to attend and no phone ringing – mainly because my iPhone does not any reception here.
I generally do not like leaving my children – who are now teenagers – to travel across the world. I know this travel ritual has great benefits for both my children and myself, but preparing to leave is aways a struggle. My meticulous preparation usually includes writing endless lists outlining their transportation needs, after school activities, weekend plans, and daily schedules. And yes, I masterfully prepare these schedules with dates, times, directions and phone numbers.
Even the best laid plan does not take into account real life situations: the stress of too many tests in one week, the terrible loss at a basketball game, the stolen bike, the new apartment, the pile up of homework. These are not things a mother can prepare for, but I have to believe great opportunities for youthful growth without a parent in the picture for a rescue operation. Our distance a part allows for my children to find their owns solutions and resolutions.
When my kids were small and I would travel, it was so much easier. They had small lives and it was so much easier to keep them on task. A caretaker could keep everything together.
Leaving teens is an altogether different situation. The old adage – ‘Small Children Small Problems – Big Children Big Problems’ fits.
I am reminded that so many of us parents are great fixers. Flying across the world is a good opportunity for the ‘Parental Fix-it Phenomenon’ to take a back seat to the more challenging ‘Child Struggle-Problem Solving Exercise’ that takes place when kids (of all ages) need to face their challenges on their own, with their friends and thankfully in my case, with their siblings.
I may not have telephone service here in the Brazilian tropics, but this is the 21st Century and I do have Wifi which allows me a few windows of opportunity to FaceTime with my kids and enjoy their faces on my tiny iPhone screen. This makes me very happy….
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