When my son’s dad and I were together, he was taking flying lessons and aspired to be a pilot. He flew flight simulators on the computer and relished his time in the air. It was no surprise to me that he would try to pass this love of flight on to his son. While I personally don’t enjoy airplanes, I don’t want my kid to be limited by my fears. This is why, when his dad suggested he participate in the local flying club’s First Flight program, I agreed (even though it made me kind of squirmy inside).
It wouldn’t be his first time in an airplane; he’s done some trips to Palm Springs without incident and enjoyed the experiences. He had none of my nerves and all of his father’s confidence. When we told him about the first flight in a small plane event, he was initially very excited, grinning from ear to ear. As the days passed by, I watched that enthusiasm fade slowly. I decided to investigate.
I asked him why he wasn’t as excited anymore and he looked uncomfortable.
“Well, mom, I don’t think I can do it on my own,” he confided. I pressed further, asking him to elaborate as to what it was that he didn’t think he could do on his own.
“Fly the plane. I don’t think I can fly the plane on my own. What if I crash?” he asked innocently, with eyes wide. I clutched him close to my chest to hide my body jerking with hysterical laughter. He just learned how to use the microwave. He wasn’t going to be flying solo anytime soon.
“Buddy, you were going to be a passenger. You were never going to fly the plane,” I reassured him. He looked understandably relieved and slightly more excited about the whole proposal again.
I definitely support letting kids believe they can do anything they put their minds to, but I never imagined my eight-year-old figured that would extend to solo flights. Observing his careful risk calculation, I gained an appreciation for his healthy dose of humility and ability to see when he was out of his depths (or heights, as it were). In the end, the weather forced a postponement of the first flight until the fall, so he hasn’t been up yet. One day, he will learn to fly and, hopefully, one day, I will learn to have the swagger of an eight-year-old who thinks he just might be able to fly an airplane. After all, his mommy told him he can do anything he puts his mind to.