We have five girls. The oldest three are fully grown and living on their own. The youngest two, our twins, are in college which means that they are home during the summer and on breaks leaving us with a nearly empty nest – empty most, but not all, of the time.
When our girls went away to college, they rarely came home except at breaks when the dorms and schools were closed.
We don’t believe this is because they didn’t like being at home. It was just that they were really ready to leave home and have the full college experience.
And, so far, once they graduated, they were also ready to live on their own. So far, no one has returned home to live with us as adults.
And, we don’t really miss them being around full-time. Not because we don’t love them or like spending time with them. Because we really do.
It’s just that growing up and moving out is part of the cycle of life. The goal, after all, is to raise your children to become independent, self-supporting adults. Having teenagers and college students prepared us for this stage of their lives. If you’ve lived with teenagers and college students, you know what I mean.
Our youngest (by two whole minutes) child, is our most adventurous child.
She started out life with an eye problem which caused her vision to be impaired. This resulted in her having delays in motor skills. She is now the only member of our family who does not have to wear glasses although she has zero, nada, zilch depth perception.
This did not stop her from being our first and only child to choose sports (Cross Country and Track) as an extracurricular in high school and competing at the State level.
She’s been skydiving.
And gone four-wheeling in the jungle.
This past semester, Our Baby, The Adventurer, decided to study abroad in Argentina, 5,000 miles away. Argentina is a beautiful country, but we wondered why she didn’t choose a country that was, maybe, a little closer, and, maybe, a little safer?
We bit our tongues. We find that we do that a lot with this child.
She took care of making all of the arrangements. Making the arrangements almost convinced her that studying abroad wasn’t worth it. Oh, those pesky details that take away the fun of going on an adventure. We felt it was necessary for her to experience this part of the trip, too. The not-so-sexy planning and arranging and budgeting part.
She left for four months, and we worried about her making the connections in major airports along the way. We worried about her getting through customs and finding her bags and getting the cab to take her to her new home in Buenos Aires. We worried about her getting around safely and what was she going to eat and all of the myriad of things that parents worry and fret about.
But, she made it safely. This was the view from her bedroom window. She chose to live with a family rather than stay in a dorm.
She walked all over Buenos Aires and made it to see the Atlantic Ocean early on. Across the way is Uruguay which she visited with my son-in-law when he went to see her.
Within the first week or so, she was robbed while walking home late one night (really, it was very early in the morning). She wasn’t hurt, but was devastated over the loss of her iTouch which is what she used as her GPS and camera. Apple products are very expensive there and in high demand.
We bought her another iTouch and sent it to her via FedEx. This resulted in another adventure as her package was seized by Customs. She had to figure out how to get to the airport and to the proper series of offices to make the “extra” payments to obtain her personal property.
She received an email from The State Department advising her to avoid the political demonstrations after Chavez died. She promptly and accidentally walked right into the middle of one, was pushed to the ground, and chipped a tooth, but she saved her new iTouch from being damaged!
As if that was not enough, she went back the following day with friends to take pictures. We just shook our heads in disbelief as she shared these stories.
What else could we do?
Needless to say, her first few weeks were adventurous. But not necessarily in all the good ways.
We talked to her every day, but as time went by and she made friends and became more skilled with the language, we heard from her less and less. We had to text her to make sure she was still alive and well. And she was.
She had many other, more exciting, adventures in Argentina.
She rode on a motorcycle for the first time ever. We didn’t even ask who the guy was. Sometimes you just do not want to know certain things.
She petted a lion at the zoo. Let me just say that when I saw her make this her profile picture on Facebook, I just about died. When I shared it with DSH, he just about had a heart attack, and he immediately texted her about being safe.
Really, though, what could we do about it?
She also petted a tiger. I think this one is even scarier than the one with the lion. She also got up and personal with an elephant, rode on a camel, and played with baby lion and tiger cubs. Can’t do those types of things at zoos in the U.S. And I think there’s a reason for that.
She went on a trip to Patagonia with friends. I love this picture of her looking over the Andes Mountains.
Here she is with her friends looking over the Andes Mountains near the Chilean border.
They did 65 kilometers of ice trekking, kayaking, and hiking in the Andes Mountains.
She refers to the friends she made on this trip as “mi familia.”
She also told us that this trip was a “life changing” experience. And we can tell that it was.
She also was able to go to Mendoza, the wine country of Argentina. We are a recipient of a bottle of Malbec from the estate where she stayed.
She did and learned lots of other things, too. She visited monuments and museums. She went to festivals and learned the tango. She was in Argentina when Pope Francis was elected Pope and was able to see the celebrations of that first hand since he was from Buenos Aires. She learned about Eva Perón and some of the politics of South America. She was able to visit the Reuters News office, there, and do some job shadowing.
She even figured out how to apply for and interview for an internship, long distance, and secured a job for next semester at school.
She has always been our pickiest eater, but she broadened her palate in Argentina. Argentina is known for its meat, and she is a meat lover. She sent me pictures and links to the foods that she ate and loved. She brought home some containers of the local dulce de leche and some of her favorite cookies.
We think she gained a greater appreciation for her family and her life in this country and did some growing up, too.
But, for me, I love that she had this adventure and that she has this adventurous spirit. Even though, as a parent, it can mean there’s some stomach churning moments. When I started a family I put a lot of my wishes and dreams on hold so I’ve lived my life vicariously through her these past few months. Her sisters are now saying she’s my new favorite child. Her twin sister says that she had to travel 5,000 miles away to make that happen.
It is our wish for our children that they are able to have and realize their dreams. We think this one is well on her way to doing that.