Checking In

checking in

My graduated senior has been gone for just over a month on his grand “Capstone” trip to Israel and Eastern Europe. He is with 80 of his classmates and by all accounts seems to be having an amazing time. I rarely call him and only occasionally text him. I am comfortable letting him explore life and experience it separate from me. Sure, I miss him but feel glad he is out doing wonderful things and not sitting in my basement.

Something interesting seems to be happening, however – the teenager who wanted to be with his friends 99% of the time and only spent occasional moments with me now actually reaches out to check in with home base occasionally. And not just to tell me he is fine or to ask for money. He wants to share his experiences with me – imagine that. I’m pleasantly surprised and happy to hear from him.

As you would imagine, learning about and seeing the sites where the atrocities of the Holocaust occurred is emotional for anyone. An almost-18-year-old, on the cusp of adulthood is no exception. He is in the throes of forming his identity as a Jewish young man and finding his place in the world, while looking at the past and thinking about the future. Heavy stuff, for sure.

He face-timed me from Poland so he could tell me everything he had done and seen. He told me that one of his teachers was awesome, and that he found him so “compelling.” Compelling? Really? When did he start using that word? We had a great conversation as he tried to capture his experience for me. I hung up after twenty minutes and felt a moment of complete bliss. I knew it wouldn’t last, but in that moment I felt joyful about the man my son is becoming. He didn’t sound like a spoiled, entitled teenager but rather an adult who feels deeply and is interested in learning about his history, culture, and religion.

A few days later he texted me pictures from Prague with the caption “absolutely stunning.” I have never heard my son use the word “stunning” or known him to be aware of, much less be so moved by landscape in his life. It’s quite a kick to see your offspring become someone who you can picture yourself hanging out with and it’s a welcome relief to have a reciprocal conversation full of adult topics and not just housekeeping issues.

I have no delusions that the road ahead will be perfect and rosy. My son is a typical young man and we are typical parents. I at least feel optimistic about the future. Hopeful, I guess. It beats feeling gloomy. So much of parenting is full of angst and agitation – I’ll take the good moments when they come my way and savor them. I  hope he keeps moving forward and checking back in.


7 thoughts on “Checking In

  1. This is heartwarming. Our experience suggests that distance does bring out that bond that you have so richly built. It does not always last when in closer proximity–but that may still improve. He is probably using language he picked up along the way from you.

  2. I love your posts! They make me laugh, sometimes tear up, and always smile. Keep the posts coming! Hope to see you soon. Valerie

  3. What can I say – me, the Zaydi. I am speechless. I am gratified. We had a text exchange
    about family members who died in Poland. I told him his great great grandfather was shot in
    his home and his great great grandmother was gassed in Belzec. These were my mother’s
    parents whose fate was feared and over which I watched her cry through the war days. I asked him to say a Kaddish for them during his Polish visit. He said he would. Amen. The chain is not broken. You should be very proud of the son you have raised.

  4. We, too, are experiencing the Israel/Poland trip second hand via our daughter. Not sure how it’s happening, but with each sporadic contact we receive from her while she is half a world away, we are feeling a stronger connection to her. I’m sure part of it is the maturation process that likely would have occurred at home, as well. But I think that plunging them into these heavy situations in unfamiliar lands is bringing out the best in them — as a group, but also individually. I’m glad others, wiser than me, make it their work to put programs like this together. It’s a real blessing.

  5. You can pat yourself on the back my dear…Brad and yourself have raised a wonderful son who is equipped to go out in the world – mistakes will happen along his way as in yours, but those form the people we are…you should be proud!

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