the next seven days feel like the most significant change in my family life in a very, very long time. in fact, i can’t remember what would have trumped this, all the way back to one of the kids being born.
tomorrow (wednesday), max starts high school.
next week, jeannie starts the practicum for her MA in counseling. she’ll be returning to the work force (even though she won’t be paid) for the first time since she was pregnant with liesl, more than 18 years ago.
in the next 10 days, i’ll be in san antonio, phoenix, and winston-salem; but there’s nothing really new about that.
but the biggie is that liesl leaves tomorrow for 9 months abroad (england, scotland and india).
last night, our house was packed with liesl’s friends (and a few of ours) for a going away party. we played “pin liesl on the country” (pin the tail on the donkey, but with liesl’s face attached to a pin, and a world map with the countries she’ll be in highlighted), musical chairs (with music from the countries she’s going to), and busted a piñata in the shape of a ship. plus: a pasta bar, dessert bar (under a sign that said “Liesl is desserting us”), a slide show of liesl pics, and a ton of hugs
i’m still not sure what i’m feeling about liesl heading out. it’s such a complex jumble of emotions. i’m excited for her, of course. i strongly believe it’s going to be a substantially formative year. she and a friend are traveling together. they’ll spend a week or so being tourists in london before heading north to walk the 14-day coast-to-coast hike. october through december will have them in scotland, working in an after school program being started by a local church of scotland. january through march, they’ll be 90 minutes south of chennai, india, working on a reforestation and water conservation project. then, april and may of next year, they’ll be back in england, working on an organic farm during the week, and exploring the UK on weekends.
of course, there’s plenty for a dad to be nervous about. they are two 18 girls heading off on their own. they know some of their plans; but there are tons of bits that are open-ended (example: they have a hostel booked for the first two nights in london, but don’t have plans beyond that). there plenty to be nervous about in terms of harm that could come their way — but there’s also plenty to be nervous about in terms of poor choices they could make. but i have to let liesl be a young adult; i have to let her use that developing frontal lobe decision-making ability, or how could i expect she’ll ever grow.
part of me hopes i don’t have to know about the “well, that was a bad choice and a good lesson” experiences.
part of me will want to rush over and rescue her when she’s in a pinch (like i was tempted to do last night, when, on her last day of auto insurance coverage, and two days before leaving the country, she got in a car accident).
part of me wants her to make perfect choices at every single moment, and experience 9 months that could be filmed and edited into a case study shown to high school seniors.
part of me wants her to get stuck, and make some bad choices, and have a few “oh, crap” moments, because i know those will (or at least could) shape and form her.
mostly, i’m just going to miss her. god, please, protect her. let her mess up; but protect her.