Yesterday around midnight, I dropped off my son Jeremy (22) at the airport. He is now en route to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
His plan is to volunteer at a local organization that helps the under privileged for 12 months. He has a couple of options and will select the foundation of his choice once he arrives. While that sounds noble, there’s more to the story. Jeremy, the younger son, was always the more gregarious one. He can be charming and craves to be liked by others. Along the way, he’s gotten lost, quit college and got into some personal trouble. As a parent, I’ve learned that I cannot live a child’s life for him. I can only suggest a road map. And I get to worry.
This year of volunteer work was by his choice. But the upcoming year is as much for him as it is for any other people he may help. It’s a critical year for him. I’ve reminded him that this endeavor is neither a vacation nor a punishment. He needs to be serious and affect others positively. I’ve asked him to be humble as possible, and to keep an open heart and mind to what he will experience. I’m hopeful he may find some passion or purpose in life — and in the process find humility and gratitude within himself. I hope he learns to live with just what’s on his back and survive challenges on his own.
Jeremy doesn’t speak a word of Vietnamese and he’s never been to Southeast Asia. However, he is street smart having lived in London during his middle school years. A few years ago, I had sent my older son to Beijing to study Chinese for six months. This trip for Jeremy, however, is a much more important endeavor.