The hardest thing as a parent is letting your child go. If I had my way my kids would be bundled in bubble wrap, sitting on my couch till the end of days. I could watch them every second, feed them, take care of them, make sure they are safe… who am I kidding? I’d still worry. Too much bubble wrap? Are they too hot? Too constricted? Am I feeding them enough?

I still worry, a lot, but my kids have all the freedom they want. If they want to do something, they can. We have raised them to be confident, strong, cautious explorers. They have the tools to take care of themselves in every day situations. Of course any situation can turn at any moment (heck, I broke my leg at a wedding, it took 1 second), and our kids have a protocol to follow in all the things that can go wrong. As much as possible.

So when Tess asked to go to Korea, I said no. WTH was she thinking? Korea?!?!?! The kid had never even been on a plane alone before. Korea is not next door. Just no. But Tess did her research. And the fact of the matter is, she wasn’t just going alone. True, the flight was all alone, but her friends parents would be waiting at the other end. Parents we knew. The whole family had been stationed with us in Germany for years. Now they were in Korea.

It had been a hard move for them. It had been a hard move for Tess. Germany is an awesome duty station. True, there’s language & cultural weirdness to overcome, and there’s missing family… but that’s at all duty stations. Korea, while gorgeous & amazing, is even more of a language & culural barrier. Especially after Germany.

Tess’ friend had a hard move. Moving just before Junior year in high school is hard regardless, to Korea even harder. I can’t imagine that big a move, at that age. I was lucky, my mom put down her foot and said “no more moving” once I turned 13. Tess is lucky too, Dave fought to stabilize and then retire so she could have a one-high-school experience. Not everyone is that lucky.

It turns out Korea is not even that expensive, it was still out of our reach. Dave had been unemployed for half a year between his military retirement & his new job. And we’d had a wedding. And I’d broken. The answer was still no. We had a despondent little girl on our hands, and a secretly relieved mom. Halfway around the world there was another despondent little girl. One who was having a very hard time adjusting to her new world. Her parents reached out to us. They really wanted to cheer their girl up. They offered to pay half of Tess’ ticket.

Tess flew through the house. Her feet never touched the stairs as she ran down to my office with the news! Now she could go! Right? Right!?!??! Right.

I had no reason to say no. None. Tess is a remarkable young lady. Confident. Cautious. Adventurous. The fact of the matter is, in less than a year she will be on her own. Away at college. Making her own decisions on a daily basis. Now is the perfect time for her to spread her wings and make those first little flights from home. I just didn’t expect that first flight to be to Korea.

On Wednesday Dave & I drove her up to Munich. Lufthansa has a direct flight, no stopovers, to Seoul, Korea from Munich. We walked her in, double checked she could fly on her own, checked in her suitcase, gave her a last hug, and of she went. Confident. Happy. Excited.

Honestly, I was pretty confident, happy & excited too! What an adventure! Truth be told, I was (am) a little jealous. Korea is on my bucket list. I’ve never been to an Asian country & here was my tiny daughter, going on her own.

Soon the texts started flying from Tess… her plane was filled with Koreans, speaking Korean (she doesn’t understand a word!), her newspaper is in Korean (first souvenir!), the excitement just flowed out of her fingertips. And then silence for 12 long hours. The flight is just over 10 hours, eight hours time difference, and customs & immigration is no joke, but finally I got a text from our friends. Proof of life. A very tired Tess in a very foreign airport.

My Tess is in Korea. Today she is  Seoul, sight-seeing, going to a lantern fest. I cannot wait to see the pictures.

This is it! Off she goes!

Munich airport has napcabs! We will now only fly out of Munich!

Leaving on a jet plane ♪ ♫ ♬

Safe & sound in KOREA!

She can’t read it, but she loves it!

The taxi’s are orange mom! It’s so weird! I know you love orange.

First Korean food: kimchi fries. She loves them!

Together again ❤