For Ben, nothing seems out of reach and life is just full of the next adventure. He started talking about taking a trip by himself over a year ago. My momma radar went way up and I started thinking of all the reasons it was not a good idea. Thankfully, there are other adults in Ben's life that saw it as an opportunity to learn so many lessons, so the planning began. Of course, Ben couldn't just start with something in the Tri-State area or even on the East Coast.
No, Ben wanted to go to California.
Do you see the Hollywood sign in the background! He made it happen!
Ben is a great traveler but up until this point in his life, the trips were planned and paid for by none other than Mom and Dad. There was never any stress about the details because they were all handled by someone else.
So Dan started working with Ben.
First they set a budget, what was reasonable to use for a vacation and how long it would take him to earn and save up that money.
Next was the planning. Where did he want to go, what hotels would be a good fit, and most stressing to mom, how would he get from point A to point B as he was not old enough to rent a car (he would not want to drive in California traffic anyway).
If you know Ben at all, you know that he loves amusement parks so most of the planning was around visiting Magic Mountain and Knotts Berry Farm. Over the course of several months Ben's plans started to take shape and the day they booked the flights, I knew it was for real.
Dan's point was that even if all Ben did was fly out to California and turn around and come back home, it still would have provided many life lessons for Ben. Fortunately, the trip turn out as magical as Ben envisioned.
Transportation was still the biggest hurdle but Dan showed Ben that if he took Uber to the places he wanted to go he would have $2 left per meal in his budget but if he took public transportation he would have $25 per meal which certainly made more sense.
Dan worked with him using Google maps which detailed every step he needed to accomplish to every location. There is also an app on your phone that you tap to pay on the bus system in LA. The week before the trip, Dan spent time each day with Ben walking through the specific days adventures in the following week and Ben was ready to go.
Ben is a part of a virtual movie chat group every weekend and had the wonderful opportunity to meet some of these friends in person. They even went to a "voice over class" at Warner Bros. Studios and made memories he won't ever forget. They went out of their way to make his trip a success and filled with fun.
The last day of the trip, he had a red-eye flight home and took a tour of SoFi stadium where the LA Charges play football. He even made a field goal from the 20 yard line!
Ben arrived back home, after a minor delay in North Carolina due to fog, happy and exhausted from his adventures.
So how did this momma handle the trip - I had a literal panic attack the night before he left and prayed heavily over him and the whole plan. I knew deep down he had every right to live this dream and that he would have a wonderful time, but worry is my nemesis.
The other way I was able to get through the week was that anything that Ben needed or wanted to share, went through his brother Dan or dad. (Dan even blocked Ben on my phone) Dan fielded all the calls from meeting up with a friend who was home from the army and just happen to be in California visiting his sister that week to finding out that the hotel he specifically chose because there was transportation to Six Flags didn't really have a shuttle after all!
Someone said to me "Oh boy, he is going to want to do this all the time now!" which while it is true, now he knows how much goes into a plan like this and it is not something he will be doing frequently.
He learned so many lessons, the biggest of which he refers to as
"Don't freak out!".
He learned that if he stops and thinks, uses his resources, even if it includes calling his brother, that most things can be solved without a big deal.
What did I learn? I learned the same lesson that I continue to learn since my children were born. I want to give them wings but it is hard to let go!
I love you more,