Well, it’s official. After a year of dreaming about it, our son Andy has finally heard the news: he’s going to Finland for a year-long Rotary Exchange! As a Rotary ambassador, he’ll live with two different families, attend Finnish high school as a junior, and travel to several nearby places. We’re not sure yet which part of Finland he’ll be going to and haven’t gotten word about his host families yet, but that information should come to us in a couple of months.
At first, I wasn’t so sure about sending our teen out into the world all on his own. After all, it’s a big world and he’ll only be sixteen… what if he gets lonely or homesick? What if he misses me? What if he’s frightened? Okay, I’m bluffing. Andy will be fine. Andy is more than ready for this adventure. It’s my own hide I’m worried about. How will I live without him? I’d simply assumed I’d have all of my kids under my roof until they were at least eighteen. But here’s Andy, the rascal, ready to head out on his own two years before my carefully planned-out timeline for cutting the apron strings. What’s the deal?
Here’s the deal: Andy is ready for this life-changing experience, even while his mother sat in the closet and cried when she heard the news. (Not really, but it was close.) After his many years of taking long-term, slow-travel kinds of trips with his whole family, he is ready to dance to his own music.
Really, what did I expect to happen? We prioritized in-depth travel from the time he was ten, exploring Belize for six months, the United States for two months, Costa Rica for three months, Mexico for two months, France and Italy for five weeks, plus many shorter-term trips. Our choice to worldschool him while immersing in various countries taught him to value travel as a means of achieving what he wants in life: deep education, lasting connections, and supreme adventures.
Now is the time to realize the results. We’ve strived to raise kids who are globally-conscious citizens and worked hard to make sure our children appreciated the diversity of all the different kinds of people on this big, beautiful planet. Andy’s choice to be an exchange student is the first major indication that we’re meeting our goals. So instead of crying that I’m losing him, I will be cheering him on!
I think back to all the days of this kid’s life. I have to urge myself not to get overly sentimental when I think of the child he once was (and who is now lost to me). Instead, I need to stay in the moment and enjoy him for who he is right now: a diligent, curious, caring, adventurous young man who has things to learn, dreams to follow, and places to go in his life.
If you’d like to follow Andy and his adventures, he will be keeping a blog. He hasn’t set it up yet, but as soon as he does, I’ll post it here. Thanks for following our story! 🙂