The first time Number One Son went to Europe was with a school group when he was 15. Though my kids were homeschooled, they did take some on-line tutorials, including Great Books, Latin, and Rhetoric. It was with a group of homeschooled kids from all over the country and a teacher from California that Number One visited Italy.
Am I telling you that I sent my 15 year old son to Europe for two weeks with a stranger we met on the Internet? Yep. That's pretty much it.
The second time he went abroad, he was 18. It was with another school group. But this was a group from a college where they held physical (as opposed to virtual) classes. Number One did not attend that college. In fact, he was still a high schooler at the time. He got hooked up with this group by way of a recommendation from another on-line teacher we actually know in person. Hmmm . . . Number One knows him in person. I've never met him. Sometimes the extended family does stop to ponder my fitness as a guardian.
But wait . . . there's more! Not only did Number One join the ranks of a much older crowd, having never met a single one of them, for a 2 week tour of Greece--he then struck out to see Turkey for three weeks. Alone. By himself.
As the tour bus full of waving, well-wishing students pulled away from him at 4 in the morning in Pyreus (which is the scary/bad Port of Athens) what had seemed like a well mapped out choice before he left home suddenly tingled up his spine like a ridiculously insane idea.
Gathering his wits and his courage, Number One did a commendable job of navigating foreign territory with no help. Even so, it was a little lonely at times. And when he picked up a nasty intestinal virus in Turkey things got kinda scary.
Dehydrated, emaciated, on the brink of exhaustion, he managed to drag his carcass back to Athens where he stopped for a quick hello at a convenient hospital. A non-English speaking doctor took one look at this pale, weak boy and admitted him on the spot. Hooked Number One up to an IV; rustled up a translator so he could ask vital questions; ordered rest and attentive care--all without a single question as to insurance. That was the day we all learned that in an emergency situation socialized healthcare is. the. shit!
Number One managed, a day and a half later, to board his flight home where we were anxiously waiting. He was never happier to see his family! All's well that ends well.
[Side note: Speaking to your very sick child on the phone when he's halfway around the world, giving him the best advice you can think of, and then saying goodbye and just hoping you'll hear his voice again is one of the most helpless feelings a parent can experience. In case you were wondering.]
But I told you all that in order to tell you something else.
To be continued . . .