Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Growing up, up, and away

It's 2016. Which means that my oldest child will turn 16 this fall.


It's also going to be her senior year. Never content with ordinary, K has moved quickly through her school accomplishments and will be graduating early. When we first realized 5 years ago that K's projected graduation date would mean she would graduate at the age of 16, we made sure she understood that just because she was graduating at 16, did not mean we would automatically allow her to go off to college at 16. It would all depend on where she wanted to go, what she wanted to do, what the requirements of any scholarships or programs would require, and mostly whether we believed she was ready or not. After all, we have very vivid memories of our own time in college and we know what she's going into.

But here's the thing about K, she's a go getter. She's smart and she has sailed through this school stuff without getting stressed over being and doing everything. She has been involved in serving and leading in many different capacities at her school, but she also knows how to set boundaries and priorities and is comfortable stepping back and letting others lead. She's content letting others make their own choices while she sticks firmly to her own. She has known for ages what she wants to do with her life and has set a trajectory that will get her there.

Back in December, K forwarded me an email she received about a summer leadership program. I encouraged her to pursue it. Life is short and you should seize the opportunities that come your way. It was a daunting application process and there would be a whole lot of money she would have to raise to do it, but K dove in. She found people to be her nominator, her mentor, and to write recommendations. She planned fundraisers as she waited anxiously to hear if she had been accepted. They take only a very small number of participants each year and people apply from all over the country.

Then the email came saying that K had been accepted! She was going to be part of the Compass program through Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. She spent the spring taking family portraits for friends, designing and selling t-shirts, babysitting, asking for donations, whatever it took to raise the money. June 22nd, she boarded a plane to Boston where she was met by the Compass people, who then spent the first 10 days doing wilderness training in the Adirondacks. They're now back at Gordon College where they're spending this week studying theology, then they'll leave Sunday to spend 10 days doing mission work in Nicaragua. They'll go back to Boston for a few days, then K will head home July 21st.

It's been like a mini-preview of K heading off to college next year. She went off to a place where she didn't know anyone, knowing that those perfect strangers would soon be some of her closest friends. She went to try new experiences and learn new perspectives, to see if what we've taught her all her life still holds true under different and difficult circumstances. She is out of communication and away from everything and everyone she knows. We've only gotten to talk once so far and I wait anxiously for the infrequent blog posts from the program director to hear how things are going.

K going on the Compass trip has been a big topic of conversation among our friends and family. I was frequently asked if I was nervous sending K off for a whole month to backpack and travel all the way to Nicaragua. And I had to say no. She was ready and able and fit for the challenge. Sure, I miss her, but we've spent her whole life preparing her to fly out of the nest. How could I clip her wings now?