Thursday, January 2, 2014

Like Mother, Like Son

After graduate school, I accepted a job teaching English in Japan under a Japanese government program that hires thousands of foreign nationals each year. The Japanese government also arranges the trip over. I flew to Japan with the group that left from the Atlanta area. The night before our trip, we stayed at the same hotel. The idea of the hotel was that, since our hosts wanted to make sure that no one missed the plane, we would be bussed to the airport together.

Like all of those flying out the next day, I spent one last evening with my family. Most of those going over said their goodbyes that evening.

Like I said, most said it. A few of the parents showed up again at the hotel the next morning to have breakfast with the people leaving that day. My mother was one of them. I gave her one last hug, said goodbye, and then heard what I didn’t expect. My mother said she was driving to the airport.

I looked at her and told her she wasn’t. I knew from the limited number of family that showed up at breakfast that no one was going to the airport. I hated to hurt my mother’s feelings, but I knew I needed to move on.

I thought about this recently as my older son went to Europe on a trip with his high school marching band. (They would perform in Italy and then perform in the London New Year’s Day Parade.) We drove to the airport, made sure he got checked in, and took him to his chaperone. Then we hung out, providing him last minute advice. When it was time to head for the security checkpoint, we went with them and watched him go through.

At some point, it hit my wife and me that we were the only parents watching at the security checkpoint.

My wife, who had heard before the story of my first flight to Japan, turned to me and confirmed what I was thinking. We had done to our son what my mother had done to me.

The joys or parenthood.

Have you ever done anything to your kids and then realized your parents did the same thing to you?

The program I went to Japan with is called the JET program. The JET program brings thousands of foreign nationals to Japan each year, setting them up as language teachers in the school system. I highly recommend this program.

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