2009.12.09 Kids: Give them wings or give them chairs?

Written by David Green.

By COLLEEN LEDDY

The recent story in the news about the Seattle undergrad student convicted of murdering her British roommate while studying abroad in Italy prompted a conversation with my mother-in-law about my daughter Maddie’s impending trip to Thailand for environmental studies.

We didn’t think Maddie was the murdering type, but we talked about how worrying it is when kids travel abroad.

“Well, at least she isn’t going to Italy,“ Jackie said.

“But she is going to Italy,” I responded.

Or, at least that’s part of the ever-expanding plan: Thailand and Malaysia for the study abroad, Vietnam and Cambodia for fun, Indonesia to visit her aunt and uncle, Germany to visit a friend, Italy to work on an organic farm.

Luckily, not all travel abroad goes as planned. 

Just ask my son Ben and daughter-in-law, Sarah.

More than a year ago, they were set to relocate to Abu Dhabi for Ben’s job. They even fast-forwarded their wedding plans so they wouldn’t run the risk of getting put in jail for five years if they had been caught living together in the United Arab Emirate.

The departure date kept getting pushed back until eventually they decided they couldn’t live with the uncertainty anymore. It was December, Sarah would be resuming her old job teaching kindergarten (she had given it up when they were supposed to go to Abu Dhabi in early September) and they were getting a little tired of living life on hold. Ben told his boss he and Sarah wouldn’t consider moving until after school got out in June. And, then, the bad economy hit over there and opening an office in Abu Dhabi was put on hold indefinitely. 

I was sorry Ben and Sarah would miss out on the excitement and experience, but I must say I was so relieved—Abu Dhabi and Dubai (where he would also have been working) are just a little too close to Iraq and Iran for my comfort.

It’s not about me; I know that. But worry is my other full-time job and now that I don’t have to fret over their proximity to unstable countries, I barely even think about the hurricanes that come their way in Miami—and Rozee and Taylor’s in New Orleans. It’s like, now that we dodged the hotbed-of-instability bullet, hurricanes are nothing.

But Maddie in Thailand. Oy. Typhoid and polio. Hepatitis and meningitis. Malaria and diarrhea. Dengue fever and Japanese encephalitis. My brain zooms right in on the worst that could happen.

Oy, oy, oy. Pure excitement at the idea of her pursuing this journey—proud that my baby is heading out on an adventure without knowing anybody in an unknown territory—and pure dread at what could befall her.

“You can’t worry,“ said Jackie. “You either live...or you sit in a chair.” 

That sounded like pretty profound advice to me.

“Are you quoting somebody or did you make that up?” I asked.

“Well, I just said it now,” she said.

And she did. I googled that line—I figured an observation of that magnitude must have been said by someone famous and I wanted to attribute it correctly—but I didn’t find anything remotely similar to her comment.

Live—or sit in a chair. Of course, those aren’t the only choices, but it pretty much sums it up—take the bull by the horns or  watch the world go by. 

I started reading “Eat, Drink and Be from Mississippi” by Nanci Kincaid just after Jackie made that wise comment, and the same theme appears there.

Courtney comes home from college in nearby Jackson, Miss., and announces that she’s quitting school and moving out to California to enroll in art school in San Francisco.

Her parents are devastated and her brother is disgusted with her for making their parents unhappy. Courtney tries to make her brother, Truely, understand her decision.

“I’m trying to be an adult here, True,” Courtney said. “Adults make decisions about how to live their lives. They don’t just follow the path of least resistance.”

Twenty-eight pages and a few years later, Truely is about to follow in his sister’s footsteps. His father still isn’t happy about his children leaving home.

“I don’t like it—that’s all. My daughter so far off. Now you leaving too. Makes me wonder what we should have done that we didn’t.”

Probably should have taught them how to sit. Maybe bought them La-Z-Boy super duper Reclina-Rockers that offer massages and heat.

  • Front.train
    WRECKAGE—Morenci Fire Department member Taylor Schisler walks past the smoking wreckage of a semi-truck tractor on the north side of the Norfolk and Southern Railroad tracks on Ranger Highway. The truck trailer was on the south side of the tracks
  • Front.sculpta
    SCULPTORS—Morenci third grade students Emersyn Thompson (left) and Marissa Lawrence turn spaghetti sticks into mini sculptures Friday during a class visit to Stair District Library. All Morenci Elementary School classes recently visited the library to experience the creative construction toys purchased through the “Sculptamania!” project, funded by a Disney Curiosity Creates grant. The grant is administered by the Association for Library Services to Children, a division of the American Library Association.
  • Funcolor
    LEONIE LEAHY was one of three local hair stylists who volunteered time Friday at the Morenci PTO Fun Night. Her customer, Aubrey Sandusky, looks up at her mother while her hair takes on a perfect match to her outfit. Leahy said she had a great time at the event—nothing but happy clients.
  • Shadow.salon
    LEARNING THE ROPES—Kristy Castillo (left), co-owner of Mane Street Salon, works with Kendal Kuhn as Sierra Orner takes a phone call. The two Morenci Area High School juniors spent Friday at the salon as part of a job shadowing experience.
  • KayseInField
    IN THE FIELD—2004 Morenci graduate Kayse Onweller works in a test plot of wheat in Texas. She’s part of Bayer CropScience’s North American wheat breeding program based in Nebraska, where she completed post-graduate work in plant breeding and genetics.
  • Front.winner
    REFEREE Camden Miller raises the hand of Morenci Jr. Dawgs wrestler Ryder Ryan as his opponent leaves the mat in disappointment. Morenci’s youth wrestling program served as host for a tournament Saturday morning to raise money for the club. Additional photos are on the back page.
  • Front.bank.2
    SHERWOOD STATE Bank opened its Fayette office at a grand opening Friday morning, drawing a large crowd to view the renovated building. Above, Burt Blue talks to teller Cindy Funk, while his wife, Jackie, looks around the new office. The Blues missed the opening and took a quick tour on Tuesday. Few traces remain of the former grocery store and theater, however, part of the original brick wall still shows in the hallway leading to the back of the building. The drive-through window should be ready for customers later in the month.
  • Front.make.three
    FROM THE LEFT, Landon Wilkins, Ryan White and Logan Blaker try out their artistic skills Saturday afternoon at the Morenci PTO’s first Date to Create event. More than 50 people showed up to create decorated planks of wood to hang from rope. The event served as a fund-raiser for miscellaneous PTO projects. Additional photos are on the back of this week’s Observer.

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