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 ;))
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.
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.