THE CHALLENGE: Watching my oldest son prepare for a 3-month trip to China when there’s something I really, REALLY, REALLY want to share….
(That’s where this blog comes in handy)
Top 9 Things A Psycho-Worried Mother of a 21-year-old son going to China obsesses about:
9. Natural and Unnatural Disasters
8. Animals and Mosquitos and the diseases they carry for which David has not been immunized such as Rabies and Japanese Encephalitis
7. Will he be warm enough?
6. What if he gets sick?
5. What if his roommate hates him, finds drugs and hides them in David’s bag? Then, when he tries to leave the country, a dog sniffs it, and he’s hauled to a third world prison, locked in a box the size of a television and I never see him again4. If he accidentally says “Bomb” in some other language while on the plane
3. They see his passport. He’s got the worst, scary passport picture I’ve ever seen. Then they send him to …oh, another third world prison worry
2. He has a nervous breakdown during his 12 hour layover in Italy
1. The Black Dahlia Murder t-shirt he chose to wear on plane is taken as a declaration of international war and he is immediately executed as he’s exiting the plane
My observations of David’s preparations are an especially good test of my skills. It was 7:30 pm the night before his trip before he started packing. I saw his luggage bulging (certainly over the weight and size limit) and researched luggage limits on the Internet. I book-marked all kinds of helpful sites, made lists made of things he needed to bring and to remember and emergency numbers. I shared none of these with him--an exercise in self-discipline. The minutes are ticking by and the “what-ifs” are building up in me like a wave about to crash. Yet I know and go over and over, “let him learn himself.” I repeat this. I keep the worry in.
I’m waiting for him to ask me… JUST… ONE question. The worry increasing--my helpful suggestions suppressed. I am a balloon, growing larger and larger, filling with worry-and-helpful-suggestions. I am a strong balloon—I will keep mouth shut. No question is asked of me.
The next morning David entered the car wearing shorts and the murderous “Black Dahlia” t-shirt. We travel toward the airport. The urge to ask him if he packed a jacket is nagging. I am a sneeze-in-waiting. The pressure is building--I will not ask!
Out of nowhere, my daughter says, “Brrrr, it’s cold in here (the car)." I, as the balloon, am frantic. I MUST ask this question. I am GOING TO DIE if I don’t ask him.
“David did you bring a jacket?” I exhale.
Here it comes…..
“DAVID-ITS-COLD-HERE. IT-MIGHT-BE-COLD-IN-ITALY. WHAT-ARE-YOU-GOING-TO-DO? DO-YOU-WANT-US--TO-GO-HOME-AND-GET-IT?” I released a delicious, satisfyingly large amount of air and tension. I, as the balloon am flying all over the place, pbsssting.
“DAVID-DO-YOU-HAVE-YOUR-WALLET? DID-YOU-REMEMBER-YOUR PASSPORT? WHERES-YOUR-WATCH? DO-YOU-KNOW-WHERE-YOURE-GOING?” Embarrassingly stupid, little-too-late questions I’ve been holding in are coming out like a hose on "full blast". Poor David recoils; both repelled and repulsed. I am ashamed.
Deflated, I vow to go back and practice “Keeping My Mouth Shut” with my other two children (and maybe I’ll even practice it with my husband too).