My youngest son is one of the kids Rotary is sending out for a year abroad. He's been chosen to exchange to Turkey. Since my daughter left 4 years ago to live in Switzerland at the age of 16 and returned safely (although changed in that she now had a disdain for American chocolate and cheese-not worthy of being in the house much less eaten and an understanding of punctuality), I thought sending my 18 yr old son out for a year would be an easy task. I mean, I've done it once, why not again and hopefully I'll get another well rounded human returned to me... Yeah right.
Boys are totally different than girls. Girls talk to you. They tell you if they are scared, they ask fashion advice, they yell at you if you are being the slightest bit judgemental. Hell, girls yell at you for looking at them wrong. Boys don't. At least my son doesn't. Is he scared? I don't know. Does he care what clothes he'll wear over there? I don't know. Does he like the souvenirs I've purchased for him to give away? I don't know. Will he even miss me? I don't know. Being in an Islamic country, all I know is that he'll miss bacon. Sad commentary about my relationship with my son huh? I understand other kids so much better than my own.
I have to hang my hat on the fact that the kids we send out, return changed, matured & thankful to their parents that they have been given such a wonderful opportunity. I see that every year when the kids come home and we "debrief" them. I've counseled so many parents that their kids will be safe and returned to them. Rotary does not take chances. We run the best exchange program in the world. There is a world-wide support network in place. Why then am I scared? Is it because I can't judge if my son has absorbed any of what I've taught him? I get no feedback from him other than surly half-replies. What if he embarrasses me by talking to his host families or the club members they way he does me? Can I tell him not to go until he proves to me he's old enough to handle this big task? Dammit. This is frustrating.