Definition: A rapid increase in height and weight, which typically occurs during puberty.

At least that’s how it’s commonly defined. I’m thinking that over the space of the next week or so, my little one is going to go through a cultural growth spurt that’s gonna open her eyes and ears and mind to a world she's presently only read about or seen on television but is now going to experience up close and personal.

Itinerary

Depart for Holland
Thursday July 19, 2007

ColumbusMemphis
Northwest Flight 5947
Departs Columbus at 12:30pm
Arrives in Memphis at 1:05pm

Memphis – Amsterdam
Northwest Flight 5008
Departs Memphis at 7:20pm
Arrives in Amsterdam Friday 11:05am

I was never good at airport goodbyes. There’s something about the hustle and bustle and the businesslike attitude of the folks that make their living by traveling from place to place that makes the long hugs and moist eyes seem almost trite. I should know because I’m guilty of it. A few years back I was what was known in the industry as a road warrior. It wasn’t uncommon for us to hit three or four cities a week, do our schtick and take to the air for ports unknown. I felt what can best be described as a certain disdain for my fellow passengers who were traveling merely for pleasure. That they somehow had invaded my space by trying to strike up a conversation while I was desperately either trying to catch up on work or nail a few hours of much needed shuteye.

This was all before 9/11 so airport security wasn’t what it is today. I couldn’t imagine having to that in today’s world.

So, yesterday morning I had to see my little one off on her trip. About twenty other kids and a bunch of apprehensive parents (me included) were all gathered in our local airport making small talk and exchanging nervous glances with each other. Did you remember this? Did you forget that? What if this or that happens?

I felt especially bad for the one kid whose parents had forgotten her passport at home and had to make a beeline back to get it. Another part of me says something to the effect of “What the hell were they thinking?”

We got there about three hours early. After what seemed like an eternity of waiting and double and triple checking everything, it was time for her to check in, get a boarding pass and go through the whole security rigmarole. When I asked her if she wanted me to stand in line with her she gave me that look that every parent will get sooner or later. The one that says “Back off, I can do this by myself”.

And so she did.

After a few hugs and words of advice she passed through security and was off to gate 36B. I stood there with a lump in my throat and my heart pounding away inside my chest. After a few steps, she turned around and gave me a little wave and smile that seemed to say everything was gonna be all right. Lord knows, I needed it.

Itinerary

Depart for U.S.
Sunday, July 29th

Amsterdam – Memphis
Northwest Flight 0057
Departs Amsterdam at 2:10pm
Arrives in Memphis at 4:55pm

Memphis – Columbus
Northwest Flight 5941
Departs Memphis at 6:35pm
Arrives in Columbus at 9:18pm

I know I’m gonna want to know everything. Every little detail about what brought a smile to her face or a tear to her eye. About what places they went to and what the food was like. About the Dutch people themselves and how they got along with their guests, about all the kids from all the other countries who were doing the same things she was. About the place they call “Friendship Village” where they’re calling home for the next eight or nine days. About the games themselves and how she played in them, about how slept and what “tulip country” was like. Was Anne Frank’s house as moving as I’ve heard it was? Did you make any friends that you’ll keep in contact with?

Yeah, I want to hear about the whole gosh darn shooting match from beginning to end. Spare me no details.

But, I’m no fool. For the most part, thirteen year old girls don’t do that sorta stuff. For whatever reason, there are some things that will always remain a secret.

In a about a week or ten days she’ll come back a bit changed. Maybe a bit more independent and sure minded about herself. Maybe she’ll be a bit more confident about her place in the world and I’ll become less and less of a factor in her everyday routine.

It hurts a bit but it’s to be expected. That’s just a small part of what growing up is about.

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