Friday, March 10, 2006

Launch and sail

Time's Up! My 15 minutes of fame are over. E-mails generated from the newspaper article rolled in for...half-an-hour. I got three total, and 24 hours later, it was clear that my reign as Roadkill Queen had come to an end. What a ride! Time to move on.

When my son was 14, he constructed a boat from a cardboard box. He duct-taped sheets of styrofoam insulation to the bottom. He covered the entire structure with MORE duct tape, then called his friend Chad to help him launch the thing.

The boys were extremely enthusiastic, but I stood by fretting and nay-saying: "You are going to sink!"

They took off to the creek anyway, so I grabbed my camera and ran after them, in the guise of playing photographer. My real intention was to be available to save my kid's life when the boat flipped over. I imagined him trapped upside down with his legs caught in that stupid cardboard kayak, and I was having NOTHING to do with that idea!

So, while I tsk-tsk'd, Brian crawled into his boxboat...

Chad gave him a shove...

And LO, that boat with my kid in it took off like a bat out of hell! It worked!

Off he went down the creek while Chad grabbed his bicycle and I ran ahead trying to get pictures around the bend.

As a mother, it is sometimes difficult to know when to let your kids set sail. Sometimes they actually do know more than you do. It is hard to know when to loosen the reigns on this fierce protective instinct, and to realize that your vigilant guarding might be no longer necessary. Your children can right their own tumbling boats.

As I write this, my son is in St. Louis, taking a government physical and enlisting in the U.S. Army. I ache. I try not to weep. I try not to worry.

I try to remember that he's a smart and strong guy, and this is HIS answer. This is not an idiotic decision made out of desperation; he has dreams and goals that will be more readily attained if he has military service under his belt.

I try to remember that

despite the instinct

my days

of chasing after him

to protect him

are done.


  1. Anonymous10:41 AM

    I remember that. I also remember him coming home totally stoked that he had done it. Just like he will this time when his Army stint is over.'s a good thing. And you've given him lots of that.

  2. That's a beautiful blog. I couldn't read it without crying.

    I wish Brian all the luck in the world. He's a great person.

    Here's to Brian getting some "slices".

  3. nice metaphor, and cool boat

  4. Tons of love and support from your NY buddy L. Much as I was on your side for trying to talk him out of it SOMEBODY has to be a soldier or we'll be overrun by the barbarian hordes. So be of good cheer. Maybe he'll have flat feet or some such thing and he'll wind up at a desk job. Hope springs eternal.

  5. To 'let go' is not to cut myself off,it's the realization I can't control another.
    To 'let go' is not to enable.
    but to allow learning from natural consequences.
    To 'let go' is to admit powerlessness,
    which means the outcome is not in my hands.
    To 'let go' is not to 'care for',
    but to 'care about'.
    To 'let go' is not to fix, but to be supportive.

  6. Wonderful post.

    Wonderful boy, now wonderful man.

    Wonderful mom.

  7. Anonymous, who are you? Thanks for the kind words.

    Momo: For some reason I think he's pretty great too.

    Paul: Thanks. We don't have it anymore. :-)

    Andy: Thank you, and thank you for your accompanying email. It means the world.

    Jodie: Nice. I'll refer to that when I lose track of my "letting go" boundaries. :-)

    PP: Wonderful friends.

  8. he's gonna shine way brighter than the duct tape on that boat, and it will be because of his own engineering and a little help from you.

  9. Wow. I'm here for ya if you need anything.

    What a beautiful post.

  10. This was a touching, interesting post.

  11. You deserve a medal already.

  12. Anonymous9:18 PM

    Wow, Brian has lived my dream...floating down a stream on a magical little boat. A fairyland adventure.

    He's a dreamer and adventurer like his mom.

    He's brilliant like his mom.

  13. That is such a sweet thing:) You come across as a great MOM:) aLWAYS always enjoy reading your blog.

  14. I'm speechless. I'm a limp pile on the floor. Impossible to imagine a child growing up. Making decisions. Leaving for now. You should be very proud. Mushed up with pride is the worry and wondering, I'm sure.

    I love the pictures & the story.

  15. I love you.

    I wish Brian all the best.

    Call if you need us.

  16. I wonder who has more courage, the parents setting them free, or the children flying away?

  17. SS: And you. My friends. Who can raise a kid without them? Luv you, hon.

    Ruben: TYVM.

    Jennie: I'll wear the one you sent me a year ago. I promise.

    Anon: I'll send you the blueprints.

    Edina: I love YOUR blog too; always a little dance when you're highlighted on Bloglines.

    Wendy: Limp pile...I know you can relate. Thanks for the comments. What's for dinner?

    Tracy: I love you too, of course.

    Theresa: Whew. I contemplated your question. I'd like to take credit, but Badge of Courage goes to kid: "Drop and give me 50" would do ME in. Knowing him well, I have a feeling he'll hear a lot of that. In fact, I should have thought of it myself. Nice to see you, T.

  18. hey, congrats on your 15 minutes of fame!! :)
    This post was very hard to let our kids grow up sometimes....

    and hey, both my grandma, my mom and my husband were born in your town!

  19. Oh my God, I've welled up like a girl! I might have to ring my mum tonight!

    Curse you and your feel-goodness - I had plans for tonight!!

  20. The penultimate photo is such a lovely picture.

    It almost doesn't look real.

  21. jay are: Family's from CU, cool! I believe your weather's nicer though.

    Sven: Mum can thank me later. You good boy!

    Buffy: Today I learned a new word: Penultimate. Thanks for stopping and making me smarter.

  22. I don't know, you got some new commenters! And you're so right, some things mean so much more than being known.

  23. this made me cry!!! It was beautiful and the last pic of your son in the river on his boat!!! jeeze. This was beautiful and I send you courage and love Warrior Mom.


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