Thursday, May 2, 2013

Home Stretch

My sister-in-law brought her students out for dinner last night for their first night in Berlin.  They each go to their host families tomorrow.  They had been living together in the dorms in Freiburg, attending the language institute there together, for the last month.  Then we were all together for the road show through Germany this past week. And now, each will enter the home of a stranger, some with limited language ability, for another month of “study abroad.”

I am so nervous for them… some more than others…

I can’t help but think about my own kids right now.  They will be completing second grade and starting a summer of various camps and vacations and activities at the same time these “kids” will come back to the life they knew before this experience: an experience that I am confident will change them.  Some in big ways – maybe a change in major, or a switch to a double-major, or the addition of a minor degree to their undergraduate work, or an application for a Fulbright scholarship after graduation.  And some it will change in even bigger ways – there are AMAZING, yes I believe life-altering, second-hand shops up and down the streets here!  A bag, a scarf, a broach, a bracelet that could literally redefine a first date, a second interview, a best friend’s bridal shower, perhaps a quick stop at a café for a cappuccino… for YEARS to come!

...but I digress.

In my heart, I know it won’t be long before "completing second grade" will become finishing middle school, then graduating high school, then (fingers crossed) the big question: where will my sons go to college?  It could very easily inform where they live the rest of their adult lives.

Sitting in the lobby of my hotel in Berlin, knowing that my seven year-old children and I have withstood the distance these past eight days, Pragmatic-Me hopes that when the time comes, I will tell them to go for it.  Pragmatic-Me hopes that I will tell my sons to stretch themselves, to work hard, to follow their dreams, whatever their dreams may be.  To go, if they really want to go, a few thousand and maybe for one semester, even ten thousand miles away.  The world is big and the more of it they see and experience and conquer, the better they will be. 

I firmly believe that… 

Well, that’s what Pragmatic-Me firmly believes. 

Mother-Me, which is the only me that has really mattered when it has come to making any and every decision since July 8, 2005 at 7:50 and 7:51 a.m., the morning I bid Vince, then Nick their very first dankeschöns, will likely see things differently when the clock strikes 2023. 

In fact, as I sit here in the lobby a little longer and think about it, I am beginning to imagine how the scene will play out on the day of their high school graduation:

After a very brief fisticuffs, Mother-Me will undoubtedly deliver a round-house kick to the left temple of Pragmatic-Me, knocking her out cold.  Mother-Me will then grab the hands of each of my eighteen year-old sons and we will walk, hand-in-hand from commencement, then head straight home for an early dinner.  Whatever they choose - it will be their high school graduation, after all.  Then jammies; a thorough tooth-brushing, flossing and rinsing; and a story before I tuck each of them in and give them big hugs and kisses.  

Perhaps I’ll tell them the story of the nice boys who learned a nice trade at the nearby vocational school and lived right down the hall from their mother forever and ever, amen.  

You'd keep 'em on a short leash, too.  Don't act like you wouldn't.