I love airports. The inevitable lines, layovers, and delays rarely bother me because I’m just so damn happy to be there. I sit and watch the people go by; I check out their luggage choices and eavesdrop on their conversations and wonder why anyone would travel in 4” heels. When I’m done doing that, I wander up and down the terminals, occasionally stopping for a cup of coffee, a package of peanut M&M’s, or a magazine I would never buy at home. It doesn’t actually matter what I do because it’s not about the doing; it’s just about being there.
Airports have been one of my happy places since I was a little girl. As the child of divorced parents who lived two states away from each other, I was flying unaccompanied (with my older sister) at an age when most kids are still learning to read. The airport was a respite, an easy, relaxed space that allowed me to transition between two very different homes and families. I’m sure my parents thought that sending their young daughters off to fly alone was less than ideal (to say the least); little did they know that all of those hours I spent in airports when I was young would serve me so well later in life.
I was thinking about this yesterday as I finished reading Captain Underpants with the girls. At the end of the book, the author, Dav Pilkey, shares the story of how he invented his half-naked hero. Perhaps not surprisingly, it all started when he was eight years old and getting in trouble in school. Dav was, apparently, “disruptive and behaviorally challenged” and Captain Underpants was born out of the boredom of detention.
Now, I know absolutely nothing about his parents, but I would be willing to bet you a first class plane ticket that they weren’t so happy about little Dav’s behavior back then. I feel pretty comfortable guessing that they did not console themselves with the thought that their troublesome son would grow up to be a bestselling author and illustrator with a sweet movie deal.
The point here isn’t that every less-than-ideal parenting challenge is going to land your kid a movie contract; of course not. (I’m still waiting for my starring role in the sequel to The Terminal. I’m sure the phone call will come any day now.). The point is that you just don’t know.
There is no way to know.
You can read the rest of this post over on my Mindful Parenting blog on PsychCentral.