Monday, June 17, 2013


I had imagined that I’d be in the car driving out to the airport right now. My younger kid Tashi, now a tall 22-year old, is due back from Southeast Asia today. But his flight is delayed an hour and a half. And so as a kind of test of my ability to settle in to writing when I have some adrenalin expectancy flowing, I’ve decided to write a short blogpost in the time I have before leaving for the airport.

I’ve just had a piece in Lucky Peach, the seventh issue, the Travel issue. My article is  about travelling with kids, about why? to do it (many reasons, including that it leads to remarkably rich travel learning for you, and also for your kids) and when? (as soon as possible and often). And now here I am waiting to greet my kid at the airport.

Adults raise kids, yes, but kids also teach adults, and raise them, stretch them, help them grow. I am very grateful, even when sometimes the process hurts a little.

Almost all parents feel those pangs when their kid goes away, whether it’s to some kind of summer camp, or to university, or on a long trip, in fact even on a short one. I try to imagine a time when both my kids will be living elsewhere, in a town or city or country far away…I try to picture appreciating contact with them without pangs or neediness. I think it’s something I will need to work on for the rest of my life.

Because the truth is that I enjoy my kids enormously. They are very nice people, great to talk to, full of good sense, humour, open-eyed appreciativeness, and insightful ideas and judgements. And I’m lucky: they are very tolerant of me, of my tendency to impatience with technical glitches or other impediments. They can laugh at my quirks without meanness or needing to score points of some kind.

I am grateful for all of it. But it leads me back to the need to let them go and to be clear with them that I am happy to see them making their own way in the world, wherever it might lead them.

I was given that freedom and encouragement by my parents early on. It was a lucky thing too, that they encouraged my autonomy and confidence, for they died young, leaving me strong enough to keep moving forward, rather than a puddle of tears and anxieties.

Now here, at another place on the arc of life, it’s my job to be as clear-minded and un-self-indulgent as I can be with my kids and with myself too. I need to take pleasure in their company and also be happy when life takes them to other places and people and ideas. 

And so this process of welcoming Tashi back from his travels is just another way-station on this road I am travelling with them, a life journey of arrivals and departures - theirs and mine, long and short - a mix of wonderful and worrisome and everyday. Many other people are on the journey with us, members of our extended family of friends and relatives, a web of cross-connections that sustains us all.

What a privilege, to have the freedom and the confidence to follow our curiosity while knowing that there are welcoming harbours to return to….

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