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.