Sunday, July 19, 2009


My friend invited Phoebe to go camping with her family.

I think she expressed concern for her urban up-bringing, and the lack of green in our concrete jungle, and that camping was a necessity. I was convinced.

We made a deal with Phoebe. If she could save up a certain amount of money from her practicing money, then we would pay for the rest of her plane ticket to visit her friend and go camping. [Sidenote: my friend gave me the wrong dates for the camping trip, and I could not afford to change the ticket, so she is not actually camping, but is experiencing nature and green.]

She did it!

Thinking about the trip for almost an entire year, really motivated her to practice on the mornings when she didn't want to.

It came down to the morning of the trip. I had figured out all the details of traveling as an unaccompanied minor, and I was feeling pretty confident about the process, with a tiny bit of unease about my little one traveling alone across the US of A. I kept thinking about this time when she was a baby and she and I were together on a plane and it dipped suddenly. Her presence brought so much comfort to me as we emergency-landed and deplaned and started the trip all over again. I was hoping nothing like that happened to her on this flight.

As we drove to the airport I reminded her of how hard she had worked and how well she had saved. I told her; "you could have bought a bunch of hotdogs each week (one of her favorite treats), but instead you put the money away and saved it up." I told her how proud I was of her practicing and her saving and her being brave enough to go on the trip. She said: "Mom, I'm sort of crying, hearing you say that."

I then reminded her that if she felt any unease, or any nerves that she could say a prayer. She said: "But, I'm just going to say a prayer in my heart because I don't want to say it out loud, because that would be too embarrassing with the person sitting next to me." I replied that a prayer in heart was fine and that I had prayed that angels would attend her.

When we got to the airport, we waited in the long FULL SERVICE line, then the special services line, then the security line, with full plans to get breakfast at the airport because of all the waiting we would have to do. Instead we arrived at the gate right when they were boarding and though the map indicated there was a Dunkin Donuts right there at the gate, there was not. I tried to brainstorm what to get her for breakfast with very little time. She told me she could eat the dry cereal I had packed. I made sure her SIGG bottle was filled up with water from the fountain so she didn't have to wait for the drink service.

I was pretty horrified at myself that I hadn't gotten my child a proper breakfast just before a 6-hour flight, even though she also had a lunch packed and puh-lenty of snacks. I was even more horrified when we watched 5 sparrows descend into the water fountain for a bird bath, moments after we had filled her sigg bottle with water from that very fountain.

Two other Unaccompanied minors gathered around the desk. They were siblings, probably 13 and 14 years old. They looked a little rough around the edges and I worried about their language. (TOTALLY JUDGING I KNOW!). I introduced Phoebe to them and asked the girl, who took more interest in her than her brother, to "TAKE CARE OF MY BABY!"...they were all sitting together.

Then it was time to go. Phoebe waved and said BYE MOM! I insisted on a hug, then she turned and walked onto the plane, and didn't even glance back.


kj said...

I think you were the most brave mom ever. Reading this sort of made me start to cry. She'll be brave while having an incredible adventure.

evie parks said...

Wow, good on you for letting her be independent. i'm not sure if I would have been able to! I bet she had an awesome time.

heather said...

Some of my best early memories are of me traveling solo on airplanes. It made me feel very proud that my parents thought I was mature, brave and smart enough to handle it. To this day I love traveling alone and never feel scared to venture into unknown places - I have the mindset that it is a big adventure, even when plans go awry. I think the fact I learned early on that my parents thought I could handle it really made a very positive impact on me in that way - so i think its FANTASTIC you are giving this gift of independence to Phoebe! Go free range kids!

Lisa said...

Pheobe has so much self confidence and courage. I love her bravery. I will be at the other end to greet her with open arms! Can't wait!

Tamela said...

Wow -- I know how hard that must have been. Recently it was SO hard for me to send our two daughter, ages 7 and 8, to Utah for a week, even though it meant they could have loads of cousin fun while I was laid up at home with a broken ankle. One of their grandmas was with them on each flight, but STILL it was hard to let them be away for a week. Kudos to you and D for venturing something so scary. I hope she had a great time.

LMT said...

She is such a good girl! I mean it.
I am grateful that I get to be a small part of your girls' lives. I hope my kids are as good and cool as yours. Have fun with the little one.

ps. Btw, thank you for your kind words to me by way of email. So kind.

Alisa said...

Have you been counting down the days until her return? Double check the return flight-I had the wrong time for my daughters return flight a few years ago. I felt awful!