A new adventure
In 2007 our oldest son, Ethan, became obsessed with Harry Potter after my wife read the first book with him. He was so into the stories and the character that every year for Halloween after that he was either Harry himself or another character from the books.
A couple years later an opportunity arose for Ethan to attend a Harry Potter themed camp in DuBois, Illinois. It’s about an hour drive from our home and we thought he’d love the chance to get fully immersed in the world of Harry Potter.
It was nearly a decade ago, but I still remember dropping off Ethan for his adventure as he stood nervously, listening to his camp counselor explain things to him. He fidgetted with his hands and paced around. I knew he was going to likely become homesick at first but also knew he’d have a blast. This would be his first experience away from home, not counting extended visits to his grandparents in St. Louis.
Even though I knew he’d be fine, I was nervous myself. Mostly because I could see he was nervous. Kids are pretty adaptable to the situations they’re put in. A week later when we picked him up he talked continuously about all the fun he had. I particularly remember the story of a late night raid on the kitchen and all the food they ate when they were supposed to be sleeping. (BTW, the counselor was in on it.)
I’m telling that part of the story to get to this part of the story. I had similar feelings this week when my wife and I dropped Ethan off in his dorm room at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. It’s a two-hour car ride away. And even though Ethan has gone off to many other camps since that first trip in 2009, he’s not coming home at the end of the week. We won’t go to Edwardsville next Saturday to load he and his dirty laundry into the car.
Once again there was a hint of nervousness. But once we got into his room, met his roommate and started setting things up, the nervousness went away and I began to see a look of confidence take over. The nervousness shifted to his parents as tears filled our eyes as we hugged in his room and then did one final fist bump at the end of the hall.
I thought of that Harry Potter moment as we pulled away and the tears flowed more freely down my face. I also wondered to myself are these tears of sadness because we’ll miss our daily encounters or tears of pride. I believe it’s a bit of both. While we won’t be able to apparate and be on the SIUe campus in a matter of seconds, he is only a couple hours away.
As we put in his senior yearbook: “Working hard is important, but there is something that matters more: believing in yourself.” — Harry Potter
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