The High School Trip

Funny how a blog about where you’re going can also be about where you’re supposed to be.

I’m supposed to be in Akron. Two of my best friends growing up are having a graduation party for their kids tonight. That’s where I’m supposed to be.

Finn and I leave in a week for Costa Rica. It’s a new tradition based on an old tradition. This is the high school trip modeled after the kindergarten trip.

If you know me you know the kindergarten trip. Starting with Sam I took each of my kids to Chicago the summer before kindergarten. They’re all my favorite trips really. Though each was a little different they all had common themes: Southwest direct, train downtown, Shedd Aquarium, Field Museum and holding hands wherever you go

I think it’s the holding hands that I miss the most.

Chicago’s a big city with lots of action so when you walk down the street, and you slow down to match your gait with smaller legs, you hold hands. It feels really good. And I think the kids love it too. You’re not carrying them or pushing them anymore. They’re big kids at 5 and they’re walking next to you on an adventure. They’re grown up now, ready for school. But in their hearts they know you’re holding on to them. And you’re not letting go.

That’s a whirlwind summer before kindergarten. New clothes are being bought, school supplies and lunch boxes are getting picked out. As parents you’re thrilled and excited to see your child take the next step. Just like you’re excited for their first baby step. But all the talk about kindergarten must be pretty terrifying to them actually.

I think about Sam a lot. Most of the time it’s memories. Tea time at the American Girl store in Chicago, her chestnut hair, Baby Baby and Rabbit going everywhere with her, Cincinnati. Memories are good. Even the bad ones. It’s thinking about the future without her that hurts.

Which is why I didn’t go to Akron. I’m not going to see her graduate.

Unanimity among three boys is nearly impossible, especially when they’re 7, 10, and 14. Oh, and they’re brothers? Forget about it. But everyone was on board for the high school trip. Finn, of course, but so were Joe and Jack. When the idea came up at the dinner table there was no arguing, no whining, no existential angst over the concept of fairness, it was just…of course there should be a trip. And impatience and jealously lost out to memories and anticipation.

I didn’t go to Akron but I’m going to Costa Rica.

It’s a whirlwind summer before high school. New clothes are being bought, technology needs are being argued about, and textbooks are being picked up. As parents, it’s actually a little terrifying. You can only think “Holy shit, he’s going to be driving in a year and a half and college costs how much a year now???”

I’m not going to hold Finn’s hand on this trip. I think he’d punch me.

We’re going surfing, he and I. 7 days of getting up early, hitting the beach, and coming home exhausted. It’s what he wanted to do for the high school trip. You know what? So did I. I got to hold his hand and walk around and see things in Chicago. I cut up his dinner and made sure he didn’t go into the bathroom alone. I tucked him in. Not on this trip. Nope. On this trip he’s going to be stronger than me. He’s going to paddle harder and longer and catch more waves. I’m going to sit on the beach while he’s still out in the water. And every time a wave comes in I’m going to watch as he paddles and I’m going to hope that he catches that wave. And when he does I’m going to celebrate his success and when he doesn’t I’m going to celebrate his effort. And I’m going to celebrate his future.

I held Sam’s hand when she said good bye. I’m going to let go of my little boys hand and say hello to a young man. This time, where I’m going is where I’m supposed to be.

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