Six weeks ago, the Weinsteins were preparing to part ways. For my 17-year old daughter Melissa, a trip to West Virginia for a two week leadership camp....for my husband Bob and me, a trip across the pond for a 10-day vacation to London to celebrate our 20th anniversary!
While my nerves frayed at the thought of Melissa flying without her parents, I took some comfort in knowing she'd be travelling with a number of fellow teens from her youth group. Still, I wanted to stay by her side through the oftentimes harrowing task of getting through security and finding the correct gate.
Although I didn't have a ticket, I had heard that airlines were willing to give a gate pass to parents of minor children. Sure enough, the kind representative at US Air did not hesitate when I asked if I could escort my daughter through security and to the gate. Melissa boarded the plane without incident, and proceeded to have the experience of a lifetime at camp!
Four weeks later, my baby would fly "sans parents" once again, this time to visit her grandparents and cousins in North Carolina. Ever the bargain hunter, Bob had discovered incredibly inexpensive fares out of a tiny, two terminal airport in Trenton, NJ.
The only downside? We had to awaken by 4 am so that we could get in the car by 4:30 am so that we could arrive in Trenton at 5:30 am...enough time to get through security and safely onto the plane for the 6:30 am departure!
Of course the Weinstein family snuggled under the covers at a reasonable hour to get a good night's sleep in preparation for our middle of the night journey to Trenton, right?
Instead, we spent the night rockin' out with Billy Joel, who dared to schedule his Philadelphia tour date the night before Melissa left for North Carolina.
So, when the alarm so rudely signaled our wake up call after a mere three hours sleep, three bleary-eyed people, delirious with exhaustion, made our way outside into the early morning darkness and silently embarked on our journey to Trenton.
At the airport, I again waited in line to get a gate pass to escort my daughter through security, while Bob decided to find a parking spot and get some shut eye in the car.
Surprisingly, we were not the only ones who had learned about Trenton's cheap fares, translating into a 20 minute wait behind dozens of moms, dads, toddlers, strollers, car seats, wheelchairs, golf bags, diaper bags, carry on bags, etc. Finally, when my turn came, I approached the lady behind the counter and I requested the gate pass to accompany my daughter to the terminal.
"How old is she?" came the employee's grumpy response to my request.
"She just turned 17," I replied.
"Well technically, she's not a minor," growled the lady.
Thinking that anyone under 18 was still considered a minor, I kept my contradiction to myself, and calmly explained that I had accompanied Melissa to the gate in Philadelphia, and there wasn't a problem.
"Do you want her to go with you," the lady asked Melissa, as if I were some kind of parasite.
What a ridiculous question! My baby, my cherub, the love of my love would absolutely want me to be with her! How could this crazy airport lady even think that my offspring would not want her mommy to be with her!
"Of course she wants me to be with her," I said with a definite air of indignation.
"I need her to answer me," snarled the airport lady. Then looking Melissa in the eye, she asked again, "Do you want her to go with you?"
Ok, no problem, I thought. I know that Melissa wants me to be with her. How could she not want me to be with her.
I looked at my child who was staring at the airport lady with a somewhat glazed expression born out of lack of sleep. Then, she responded by shrugging her shoulders and uttering the following words: "I don't care."
Yes. That's right. The child who I carried for nine months...............
Shrugged. Her. Shoulders.
Yes. That's right. The child who I raised from a six pound infant said....................
I. Don't. Care.
Thinking at that moment that, at the very least, I would not be allowed to escort her through security, and at the very worst, the airline, convinced I was trying to kidnap this teenager, would send someone to arrest me.
Somehow, through continued haggling, the angry airline lady finally allowed me to have a pass so that I could accompany my kid through security.....even though Melissa obviously did not care if I came with her or not. (sob.)
We made it to the gate without incident, only to learn that the plane had been delayed by two hours. As we settled in for the long wait on the uncomfortable airport chairs, I offered to get Melissa a snack, and in return she gave me a grateful smile.
I knew that her "I Don't Care" response had come from lack of sleep, not lack of love. And I also knew that, as the minutes slowly ticked by in the wee morning hours in the tiny Trenton airport, that Melissa was glad to have me by her side.
|Melissa celebrating her 17th birthday on the first day of her two-week leadership camp!|
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