Sunday, July 15, 2012

The Adventure of Independence (Cheryl Renée Herbsman)

When I was sixteen, I got on a plane in North Carolina and flew to Tel Aviv, Israel by myself. It was a trip I'd been dreaming of for nearly two years. In a week's time I'd be meeting up with a youth group tour, but first I was off to visit the boy of my dreams.

Was I terrified? Yes. But what a huge rush at that age to be given the chance to experience that kind of independence. I was going off to explore the world all on my own. Now, as a parent, I think my own parents were nuts. But at the time it made perfect sense to me. And I was grateful for the opportunity. I remember the feeling of starting out on an adventure all alone, the sense that I had only myself to rely on. (For those of you who don't know my story, it all worked out. I had an amazing summer, and five years later I married the guy ;))

Our world has changed a lot over the years. And I think teens tend to be more supervised than we once were. I still see high school grads going off to Europe in small groups. But again, as a parent, I'm sort of horrified!

When I write teen characters I remind myself to leave the parent-self out of the room. Otherwise I become too protective of my darling babies and don't let them face anything too scary. I write instead from the perspective of that sixteen-year-old I once was setting out on a grand adventure.

In BREATHING, Savannah lives a fairly sheltered life, growing up in a small town on the Carolina coast. But she dreams of something bigger. She longs for independence. And when her opportunity arises, she has to decide if she's brave enough to take it on, to leave behind everything she knows and everyone she loves to embrace an adventure all on her own. It's such an exciting time of life, those first big adventures.

The topic is especially salient for me today. This very morning I dropped my sixteen-year-old daughter off at the airport, where she met up with a camp program, where they got on a plane without parents, heading off for a month in Israel. She might not be completely alone the way I was at her age. But for me as a parent, it still seems monumental -- watching her go off into the world, embracing her own adventures. Now, if only I can remember to breathe for the next thirty days.
Wish me luck!



5 comments:

  1. You're so right about putting your parenting brain aside as you create your story.

    And so brave to let your daughter go!

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  2. We have to remember that even though the world is more dangerous than many kids know, it's also usually not as dangerous as the worst fears of parents.

    Shutting our children away from life to try to keep them safe also damages them, even if the damage is less obvious. So it's a neverending quest for the balance between the joy and the risks of new adventures!

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  3. That's a tough thing, letting your child head off without you. But think of all the amazing things she will experience and how much she will grow as a result! You are a great mom for giving her this opportunity!

    Angela

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