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KAREN SCHWALLER

By Staff | Feb 11, 2011

If you’re a parent, you understand that kids grow up in the blink of an eye.

Oh, how I remember those days of diapers and feedings; cleaning up messes all day and night – and then doing all of those things with in much greater proportion with twins after we practiced it all on our first.

Our kids have grown up right under our noses and we can hardly believe they are pursuing careers these days. Where have the years gone?

Well, we had a new experience recently, when our daughter left for Argentina on an agricultural learning trip with some other students from her college.

All the preparations were made – the passport, the immunizations, the paperwork, the airline regulations, the trip education, the regulations, the airsick pills …

Everything was in place, and good to go. I awoke that Saturday to the 7 a.m. news, telling the world of a seven-point-something earthquake that had occurred in Argentina overnight.

O-M-G!!! Naturally, this would only happen if a Schwaller was involved in it.

The quake was in northern Argentina, and the group would be traveling there, but not being there for the long-haul. I did a little quaking myself as I lit up the keyboard that morning trying to find out more about it in the Internet.

It sounded like not much damage and that it was a long way from Buenos Aires. I tried to humor myself by thinking about what I’ve heard people tell their kids when the kids say their finger or toe hurts; “It’s a long ways from your heart.” Well, I convinced myself that it was KINDA the same thing.

The next day, the time arrived for her to head out with her classmates, one of her ag professors and a Spanish-speaking translator.

My daughter was nervous and excited at the same time. Her flight was to leave at 7:45 a.m., so we arrived at the airport at 5:45 a.m., having driven up the night before and hung out in a motel so we wouldn’t have to beat the roosters up in order to get to the airport on time.

Nothing interesting happened until our daughter approached the counter at the airline to have her bag checked in and to get her tickets. The man looked and looked at the passenger list, and did not find her name.

Of course. How could we have expected anything different?

Our daughter was giving me “the look” from the counter, letting me in on the fact that something was not right. I could see them dicker back and forth with papers and computer screens, and finally the man asked her, “Are you sure you’re flying today?”

My guess was that she was thinking that one of (the two of) them was going to be flying, but it was going to be a matter of walking onto a plane, or becoming airborne at the end of her clenched-up fist.

She calmly asked him to look on a later flight’s passenger list, which also was to carry some of the other students going on this trip. After a short search, he found her name on that list. (It was a mix-up at the travel agency.)

We left the airport and returned to the motel for some coveted rest – a commodity which our daughter knew she would be short on once she got to Argentina -and especially, having just come off of a New Year’s Eve late-night young adult bash with friends. (My husband and I were much less foolish, and pasted our eyes open until midnight, after which we skanked off to bed, pathetically middle aged.)

We later returned to the airport, got her checked in and walked with her to the security area where we said our farewells. It was then that it occurred to me.

I remembered when she was a brand new baby. I was working in town and one day had a doctor’s appointment in a nearby town. I left for the appointment, thinking about what a terrible mother I felt like, leaving our new little baby in a different town than I was going to be in for the duration of my short trip.

I really hated how it felt like I was abandoning her at this my very new stage of motherhood.

And on this day, that same little girl, all grown up now, boarded a plane and headed off to a different continent. All we could do was stand there and watch her plane until we couldn’t see it anymore.

There was something poignant and nostalgic about that moment. Our little girl has really grown up, and is living life.

When I was her age, it was a big deal to get to drive the family roadster 10 miles to school, and we could only do it if we had a @#$%&* good reason to drive to school.

How times have changed.

Schwaller is a Farm News correspondent from Milford. Reach her by e-mail at @evertek.net.

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