Put a Child On a Plane

There’s this chasm growing between my 13-year-old daughter and me. It’s OK. I still remember being 13. My mother was much closer to me in age, so I am counting on this age difference between my first born and me to result in a smoother relationship.

Kid1 is better at this life game than I was when I was her age. She plays her cards close. I wear my heart on my sleeve, I allow people to use me, I trust until I am fooled. It’s kind of embarrassing, and I realize I must bury the bones of my past.

She’s in Rome with her high school orchestra and band classmates, her viola was part of her carry-on luggage, she’s got a less-than-iPhone in case she loses it, we tracked her flight from Hawaii to Dulles to Rome with the very cool FlightAware app. I hope I hear from her: a text, an Instagram, an email. I might not. So far I haven’t. She’s been in touch with her Dad and Kid2, and I’m relieved when they let me know she’s reached out. I sent her a text with little emoji hearts, an Italian flag, a violin, a jet plane, musical notes. Just me, trying to be playful and fun and loving.

Our first night without her was quite calm. No shower wars between the sisters about who has to go first, no bickering, no slights. Kid2 read a book after dinner and talked with me a lot. We will enjoy this time together, but we all miss Kid1.

When we were driving to the airport, it reminded me of the ride to the hospital to give birth. I cried because I was happy, but I cried because there was no going back and that the changes that would occur when this new person comes into our lives would be irreversible. Dynamics shift. Our personalities make room for another. Our hearts expand immeasurably.

The experience will be amazing for her. We’re curious, we wish we could watch as she enjoys a true Italian cappuccino, plays her viola with her orchestra, takes in the wonders of the Vatican and the ruins of Rome. Will she share all this, or will she keep these memories locked?

I fumble about for the right key.


By lavagal

Hawaii Kai wife and mom. Melanoma Stage 3a Cancer survivor. English Language Arts teacher, English Learners Coordinator, and Paraprofessional Tutor. Super sub teacher. Dormant triathlete. Road cyclist and Masters swimmer. Gardener. Mrs. Fixit. Random dancer. Music Curator. A teenager trapped in an aging body. Did you know 60 is the new 40? It is.


  1. Mostly cloudy in the Eternal City today. I expect it to be magical for Kid1. Many “Breaking Away” dinner table moments ahead.

  2. My kid1 has only been to Reno without us for choir. Don’t tell her about your kid1. 🙂

  3. Bryan here – Brings back memories of when we sent our daughter to US Space Camp in Huntsville AL. Three years a she went. Sent her down as an unaccompanied minor all three trips. My son accompanied me down to pick her up the first year. It was scary for us.

  4. stand by to shift into woman to woman mode, in 3…2…1;

    daddy will always be daddy but the same sex parent has to do the heavy lifting from here on. it is said girls are easier to raise than boys when young, then the reverse happens with age. idk, never had girls. it is also said that they all go loonytunes at 13, then four years later, sanity returns.

    from my experience with this transitory time, that is spot on. this is the time that best parenting ad vice i ever got, from the most unexpected source, film maker John Waters, was most useful; ”the most important thing a parent can do for their children is let them feel safe being who they are”

    getting to know the new adult is as much fun as raising the child. it’s just different.

  5. My Kid3 is in Tabernacle, NJ. It’s only 20 minutes away. Feels like we’re a universe apart. I think I need counseling! lol I hope that your Kid1 has the best time of her life…she’ a very lucky girl 🙂

  6. Out on the other end (our 28 year-old daughter is 7 weeks away from having her 2nd child) I can tell you to be her parent while she goes through her teen years.
    Prior to 13/14, she had liked hanging out with me. So, it was hard to be remanded to “Ugh – you’re my mother”; to be “uncool” for 4 years. I was blessed to have some girlfriends who, having already experienced it, told me how unwise it was to try to be her buddy; that it would lead to a crappy ending. Some of her girlfriends’ moms traveled that road … and didn’t fare too well in the end.
    Then, high school ended and the summer before she left for college, we fought like alley cats. I knew the fighting was a by-product of the mutual fear of leaving each other. Fortunately, the fighting helped us to sort through our feelings. Unfortunately, my husband and son didn’t know what to make of it – and usually ran away. LOL
    It finally returned to a balanced relationship when she got to college. We’ve been best friends ever since. Watching her with her almost 2 year-old daughter is such a delight.
    Paula, you’re already a fun, thoughtful, loving mom. You’ll do fine. Pretend you’re just riding your bike – coasting downhill.

  7. Well, pal, when my Kid1 (now 20) was at KMS he went to the east coast for almost two weeks.

    Believe it or not, I’m having more anxiety about him heading off to Europe on his own for the summer than I did back then. But back then, I never imagined this.

    He is going to visit my niece in England, where her husband is stationed. She is having our family’s first great grand-child in June.

    My son is going to be an HPU exchange student in Paris, and will turn 21 while he is there.

    I’m extraordinarily proud of him, but the day he sent me his air travel itinerary (which he purchased himself!), I started getting quite emotional, thinking back on images in my mind of these two children at 3 & 5 playing together in the bath tub. Now here they are travelling the world and having babies.

    I feel like I am missing a whole part of his life. He has one more year of school…then he is planning to move away. :0

    I’ll write to you again, then, when my heart breaks again with pride and a little bit of sadness.

    I truly, truly feel your joy and pain, my friend.

Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: