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It was music to my ears, after a long day of waiting while my son traveled alone, to hear him say over the phone at about midnight last night, “I’m in Quito, Mom.” It’s a huge sigh of relief not just for his safe arrival, and for having gotten all the planning right over the past year including getting him set up to return to a college he has already accepted admission to, but for having gotten him to adulthood in good shape at last.

He’s been such a handful of kid ever since he got here. The difficulties, none truly too tough to manage, have grown with him starting with his need to remain in the hospital a few days after he was born prematurely. It was concerning but doctors helped us feel secure in his future. At ten he was scaring us with his hand standing skateboard tricks and his shopping-cart-down-the-driveway past time, either of which would have caused me to hold my breath even it he hadn’t just had surgery for a broken elbow, followed by your basic broken arm. I learned to look the other way because 99% of the time it all worked out fine. At fifteen he was so involved with a girl and had surrounded himself with folks we didn’t feel that good about that we staged an intervention. Our family counselor assured us we would come out the other side okay and we did. We worried about so many things over the years, these and more abstract things like whether he’d learn to manage his money, and whether he was courteous when we weren’t around.

Now he’s off on a gap year in South America, successfully on the ground at least, and I know it is time to welcome another wave of scary new experiences, but this time we are resting confident in the groundwork we’ve laid to help him be a responsible almost-adult. He’s in the charge and care of his host family, now, so we sigh our sighs of relief, knowing that 99% of the time things work out fine.