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Letting Go, Even Without Trust


It's such a little word. But I came to realize this weekend that it makes all the difference in our interactions with others.

We dropped our son off for a week at a major state university, a week that's devoted to the study of politics and government, a week for which he qualified through a scholarship. We should have been all the things the other parents were - excited, wistful, proud beyond measure.

And we were. But they were all drowned out by fear.

I've done everything I can possibly do to make this week safe. I've read every label, met with food service, emphasized the pitfalls like the thoughtless pat of butter or shared cereal containers. I've talked with the camp director, health services, the adult counselors. I know they have the very best of intentions, and that they don't want anything to happen on their watch.

I also do not know if I can trust them.

You see, the food services lady seemed so very nice. She was expecting her own child. She had obviously dealt with special meal plans before. And yet...there were so many things she initially missed, so many people in that kitchen (and she could not be there every time, every meal). I have to trust them all. But I can't possibly KNOW them all.

I have to trust that the adult counselor will be available, should my son have a reaction. That he will believe my son, support my son, listen when I say he should just call 911 and not rely on the campus health service. I have to hope he will not freeze if my son is incapacitated, or just too shaky to give the injection.

I have to trust that the health director really does understand anaphylaxis and isn't just giving lip service to the situation, hoping to play it by ear if it really happens.

I have to trust that the other boys won't bully, won't slip peanut butter in, won't single him out so he gets distraught and perhaps takes a stupid risk.

And most of all, I have to trust my son. I've given him meal-by-meal instructions, talked through the scenarios. Yes, I've probably done too much hand-holding, but how do you not hold the hand of your child? The only way you can know that your child is ready for you to let him go is by letting him go.

I've let go. I just have to trust that his wings will open and that he can handle whatever comes.

I have to trust that he will come home again. What else can we do? The alternative of keeping them in the nest forever is so much worse.

I'll indulge in a little bit of mommy blubbering now. When my son was not yet school age, he came running into the house with tears in his eyes. "It's on the GROUND! They're hurt! You have to HELP!" He was so distraught that it was hard to make sense of it all, but eventually I figured out that a robin's nest had been blown out of the neighbor's tree during the previous night's storm.

I went to see what could be done. One little robin had been smashed by the fall and was clearly dead, but the other two were near the nest and quite vocal. I picked them up and put them in the nest. However, the next step was harder - the tree's lowest branch was a good 15 feet up, so they were clearly not going back into their old tree.

We puzzled through it over the next few hours. We tried chopping worms and feeding the little birds, but it wasn't terribly successful. After a while of this, I noticed that there was an adult bird who had been hovering around us for some time. "Let's try something," I told my son. We put the nest in a simple hanging planter and hung it from the lowest branch of the tree in our yard. Sure enough, the mother bird immediately started feeding the noisy babies as soon as we moved a distance away.

My son looked dubiously at the nest. "I don't think they're gonna be safe there, Mom. You need to find a way to keep them safe too." He was right. So...we got out the big ladder and the duct tape and we bound that planter into a V fork much higher up the tree. And sure enough, the mother again made the adjustment and fed those babies.

The babes were already well-feathered - it took only a week or 10 days before they fledged and were gone. What had seemed an insurmountable problem had just required a slightly less-orthodox approach.

I think I'll go mail my son a role of duct tape. It can't hurt, right?

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