I have not always been good at the part of parenting where you’re supposed to let your kids experience the natural consequences of their decisions. Today, I was presented with the opportunity to practice that skill again. It was about 8:15 a.m. this morning and I just sat down in my first session of the reading conference I’m attending. I was late but the doors were still open and I was not the only person just arriving. I found an empty seat near the back and pulled out my phone to send a Tweet. I notice there were 6 calls from my son. The one who never calls. The college student who is spending his Spring Break in North Carolina with his cousin. Uh oh, this isn’t good. I called him and he picked up on the first ring. “Hi mom, did you get my voice mail?” Nope. Then he explained to me that he missed his flight. Just as “Mom-mode” was about to shift into auto-drive I caught myself. First an epiphany and then a Zen-like calm came over me. “Okay… Do you have a plan?” “Yes, I can get another flight for $249 to O’Hare and I’m trying to get in touch with Erin. She’s in Chicago right now.” Erin is his girlfriend from Berkley, California. She and her parents must’ve flown to Chicago to spend some time before driving north to Appleton.
Now this is a college student who has very limited funds. I know because I provide those funds. He currently does not have a job. Pulling my credit card out of my wallet was a natural reflex. But, I again ignored my mom impulse and asked, “Do you have a plan for paying for the ticket?” “Yes, I’m going to use my PayPal account and pay it off in six months.” he said. I was pleasantly surprised he had a solid plan. Now, I don’t recommend a college student going into debt. But, that’s a conversation we can have at a later time. It was such a relief and surprise to, in the middle of a phone call, realize that this is not my problem to solve and that he has taken full ownership over it. He was not calling to ask me to solve his problem. He was calling to ask for my blessing on his decision. “Have a great flight honey!” Later he texted me “Getting ready to board.” “Hey, proud of you for great problem solving!” I texted. I am really proud of that kid! And I have to admit I’m really proud of myself for allowing him to handle his own problem.