He’s been gone two weeks. He’s been living in Madrid, Spain with a host family as part of a Spanish Immersion Cultural Exchange program through our school district. It’s been the most amazing program and 21 kids have been able to use Spanish skills they have been honing since Kindergarten. Of course that is the purpose of the program but I have gone through the past two weeks praying for so much more. He will exit the plane a more grown up young man and I have prayed for a sense of self reliance combined with gentle humility. He might feel like he can take on the world and I will continue to ask for his heart to feel the need to remain close and grounded right here at home as a respectful and helpful leader in our family. He might come home tonight feeling like he wants the freedoms back that he was allowed while in Spain and I am praying for ways to help him to process that special feeling and how to best understand that it was a time in his life for growing in confidence and independence. I’m just praying for wisdom as he comes home a changed boy.
Travel changed my life back in college and now I am sure travel will have changed his life. Our short conversations via skype and facetime have given me a peace that this was the right time for him. The group of 21 who joined him on the journey are wonderful kids and many are families we do life with day in and day out, sharing rides, how to stories and fears of parenting failures that creep up daily. This was his time and I cannot wait to see just how his heart has been opened. If you are walking the road of parenting I am guessing you might have a top five list of things you hope your children learn before age 21. I do. No need to reveal all five but just know that one of the five is this:
I long for my children to feel that they are citizens of the world, a complex world, God’s world, where all people were created in His image and all people deserve to be treated justly and with respect. I want my children to know that their action or inaction matters and that in this great big world they can make a difference one person and one interaction at a time be it near or far.
So Hayden’s trip to Spain became a huge priority to us. Bilingulism is a priorty for us and we could think of no other way than to allow him to be immersed in the Spainish culture to have him best understand tolerance, compromise, self reliance and just plain adventure while living in another culture and using their language 100% of the time. He has been missed but I am trusting that the time apart will have been worth the nerves and the tears that rolled down my cheeks as he boarded the bus two weeks ago headed for Ohare and on to Madrid.
Thank you to so many who made such a life changing adventure possible. We are beyond grateful.