Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Claiming my son in baggage claim at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport March 28, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 8:51 PM

COULDN’T ANY REASONABLE mom expect that when her 16-year-old son returns from Europe, he would embrace her before claiming his luggage?

Not my boy.

Late Sunday afternoon I watch as my teen walks toward me after landing at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. He has been gone for 10 days on a Faribault High School Spanish class trip to Spain, and I am anticipating his welcoming hug.

But as he approaches, getting closer and closer, he suddenly veers to the right, directly for the baggage carousel.

I am devastated, especially when I see one girl running into her mother’s arms and my boy running, well not exactly running, the other way.

I am momentarily stunned by this unwelcome welcome.

Then I take action, seeking him out in baggage claim. We nearly bump heads as I reach up to hug my lanky boy-becoming-man and hold him, only momentarily, close. We are, after all, in public view.

He seems more interested in finding his black suitcase among all the other black suitcases and securing his souvenir sword than in seeing either me or his dad. Maybe it’s a boy thing.

Earlier, several mothers tell me how they talked to their traveling teens daily. Me? I got one e-mail three days after departure. Maybe it’s a boy thing. Or maybe it’s not having a cell phone thing. (At least he can’t accuse me of being a hovering helicopter mom.)

On the drive home, I am anxious to hear all about my son’s European travels. But I know that with my teen, waiting for him to share information works better than quizzing him. Yet, I ask a few questions. He tells me Toledo was his favorite destination, that America should have a high-speed rail system. I hear bits and pieces, bits and pieces.

Finally, I ask, “Are you hungry? We’ll pick up a pizza.”

“I’m sick of pizza,” he says. “I’m hungry for sleep…and milk.”

True to his word, upon our arrival home, this weary traveler accepts the large glass of milk I pour for him. And then he’s into the shower and off to bed.

But before my son drifts off, I lean in and gently kiss his forehead before treading quietly down the stairs to wash a mountain of dirty, stinky laundry.

© Copyright 2010 Audrey Kletscher Helbling