The cruelest truth of parenting: If you do it right, they leave.
I’d done my reading. I knew that from the moment I got that baby in my arms, my job was to prepare her to go. I understood. I’d done it myself, to my own mother. So I concocted a foolproof evasion.
As our eldest approached adolescence, I created an adventure so adventurey that it would foil the designed entropy of human development.
When our kids were five, nine, and twelve, we moved to a tiny mountain town in Costa Rica. For the obvious reasons—slow down, step outside consumer culture, blah, blah, blah. I wanted to live a life a little less obsessive Type A, and for our family to spend less time at practices, more time together.
The plan was clearly brilliant. In our new world, our kids were more a team than they’d ever been back home.
“You guys will not believe how milk works here!” Hannah, Harry, and five-year-old Ivy burst in from a mission to the grocery store, where they had discovered giant, metal silos. Strictly local and straight from the town’s dairy, the silo milk could be dispensed into a vessel of our own choosing. We’d never experienced milk that had been, so recently, encowed.
The early weeks were filled with such marvels, shared among ourselves. We were all we had.
In no way did I intend “I want us to be closer as a family” to translate to “Let’s take our adolescent daughter to a place where she can’t speak the language and knows no one; then she’ll have to stick with us.” But the fact remains: Speaking no Spanish, we moved to Central America, and to a house so isolated you had to walk ten minutes to find another person. Hannah was almost 13 — time to fly, little bird — but I had her now.