Join Date: Aug 2004
stef, I truly can relate to what you wrote and your quandry. I realize this is not as big a deal for some parents, particularly for those who live in or near cities where kids do this all the time. But for some of us, whose kids really haven't done this all alone, it IS a big deal.
My kids grew up in a rural area. They have been to many cities and even other countries but just always in supervised capacities, and not totally on their own back in high school. Even where we live, they were usually supervised because parents had to drive and so forth.
Anyway, I had never let my kid be in NYC on her own, just like you are talking about. There was a time I let my then sixteen year old stay with friends in the city (college aged) and then take a train back home to our state. Even that was a big deal to me at the time, but she wasn't totally alone and I made her friend accompany her to the train station (though the friend was 17) because the friend had spent lots of time in NYC on her own in the past and knew the city.
Then last summer, when she was still sixteen, a producer/director called to ask her to come to the city for an audition that involved working with her for a few hours. She had gone to NYC with me many times and I was going to take her. She begged to be allowed to fly there herself (had taken planes before on her own), then take a cab from the airport into the city to the studio and then to stay with a friend and eventually back to the airport and home again...but this time all on her own...in terms of getting around, getting there and back, etc. I was really reluctant...it was a first. But she claimed, and this is quite true, that just one month later, she was going to be in college.....in....guess where....NYC, at age 16 and would be on her own. So, I let her fly there, take the cab. The producer/director knew me and that this was the first time my D had ever done NYC on her own and though her own teens grew up in Manhattan, she understood and she actually saw my D to her cab after the session and sent her on her way to her friends. I had my D call me (she has a cell) from each step of the way.....when she landed at the airport, when she arrived at her destination in the city, arrived again at friend's apartment, when she got in for the night (was very late due to Harry Potter book on sale at midnight that night but she called and explained) and when she got to the airport again to come home, etc.
Then, of course, she was totally on her own in NYC a short time later as she began college at a young age. This was huge for me....she was on her own in NYC, taking subways, doing what she wanted, etc. I had to get used to it, lol. The first time was rough for me but it does get better. There is the element that the kid doesn't really know her way around and all that. But a seventeen year old eventually has to go the next level because soon the kid will be in college and doing lots on their own. Funny to hear ME say that but I have adjusted to their doing more and more and more on their own.
So, I'd have your son map out a plan ahead of time as to what he wants to do. You guys can research it online, discuss how he'll get from place to place. Give him a city map. You can have him call you at certain agreed upon times....when he arrives at X, etc. The airport is about a half hour away. My child takes a taxi. It is easier for someone not familiar with the public transportation. But there are other ways to get to the airport. I felt better with the door to door service, particularly for a first time. I realize your son hasn't been there before or done something like this but there will always be a first time and this is just one day and so I think this is a good beginning.
Now, I just shared my anxiety over such an idea at that age....but look at me now....the D I just mentioned....is living in Manhattan....arrived at age 16, is now 17 and did just fine this past year...really knows the city and has done tons on her own. She has traveled there many times via plane and train on her own. I let my other D at age 18 last summer drive 6,000 miles to Alaska! Yep, I did that...if you knew me, you'd know that was a big deal for me. She called each night and the trip was mapped out ahead of time. That D has traveled many places since then by car....including tonight to Boston, alone. She is leaving shortly to France on her own this summer!!! Again, things are mapped out ahead of time and agreements as to when she will call and this particularly D is VERY reliable. At some point, the kids have to grow up and they do manage and the bigger deal for me is that I have to manage and just let them do it. My seventeen year old is leaving shortly for a summer job out of state where she will have a car and be living on her own with others she does not know. At some point, as parents, we have to let go and take the plunge. They do fine and it is more our own peace of mind that is at stake. If you can get your kid to call from certain junctures, eventually you will get used to it. I still worry a lot but I have adjusted, lol.
Give this a try. It is one day...he is almost old enough to go to college and this can be a stepping stone to getting places on his own and being in a strange place on his own. Plan as much as possible ahead of time and have him contact you at agreed upon times. It'll work out! Small steps....pretty soon he'll be taking the big step to college and then he'll really be on his own.