Monday, February 2, 2009

Guns And Gators

Two American Alligators (Alligator mississippi...Image via Wikipedia

Knowing when to let go is one of the most difficult decisions a mom has to make in raising her teenagers. Is it okay to let them stay out until midnight? When should "no" be the answer to sleepovers at the homes of friends who you don't know well? Or, as I had to ask myself this week, "Is it smart to allow my teenage son to go duck-hunting in the Everglades with another family?"

There are quite a few things to consider in this one question. First, the obvious one: guns. Second: wading through alligator-infested water at 4:00 a.m. Third: doing all this without my supervision.

The decision should be easy. My brothers shot their first rifle at 12 years old when they went hunting with my father. I shot my first rifle about the same age as my son is today. However, we are talking about my son, the little baby that took me over two years to conceive and the little guy that somehow grew up overnight. My first response was a resounding "Yes, you can go," but as the morning approaches, I am starting to second-guess my decision.

I keep having thoughts of what the headline might be if there's a freak accident. I can't help it, but the "what if's" overtake my confidence. I have to remind myself that in just three short years he will be doing these kind of things without me even knowing.

Perhaps it’s the knowing that makes us worry. We raise our children emphasizing in them the importance in good decision-making. We attempt to lay the foundation for them to keep themselves safe when we are not around, yet when the time comes to allow them to exhibit their skills, we hesitate to let them go. It's ironic isn't it? I'm going to allow him to go hunting and I'm going to worry until he returns, but the reality is that I've been preparing for this moment his entire life -- alligators and all.

Fast-forward 12 hours. My son has returned in one piece and happier than I've ever seen him. He had a great time. Enjoyed every minute of the experience. He didn't kill a duck, which doesn't hurt my feelings, but he did gain a great deal of confidence. Something I could have shot down, and how grateful I am now that I didn't pull the trigger on letting him go.


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