Sunday, April 6, 2008

Rights of Passage

When I was a junior in high school, I saw a poster on a wall in our high school career center with a picture of a large ship on it. It was advertising for a trip around the world - on the S.S. Universe - and all of the countries that you could visit on that trip. It was a "Semester At Sea."

They were not glamorous countries either. We are talking 3rd world countries like Egypt, Morocco, India, Singapore and Taiwan. 13 countries in all, none very attractive to tourists, but all very attractive to students longing to study the world. I was one such kid. And I convinced my parents to let me sail on the S.S. Universe for a full college semester.

Elizabeth is now a junior in high school. Knowing she shares my sense of adventure, I knew she would love to do this, too. She's my kid, after all. And she loves to travel. She's already been to Hawaii five or six times, Mexico a few times and she just returned from her second mission trip to New Orleans. And she LOVES to stay in hotels. At one point, she even wanted to own one.

I offered her this trip. I wanted her to experience all that I got to experience. Sailing up the Nile, climbing the great pyramids of Giza, seeing the Taj Mahal, riding an elephant, riding a camel, sailing through the Suez Canal...

I purposely didn't mention the other fun things we did... like trying to see how many Black Russians I could drink before I threw up, how many times I could get my purse stolen in India, how many storms our ship could endure on the Pacific ocean and how awful kimchi tastes in Korea. I also didn't mention my trip to the hospital for eating ice cream in Sri Lanka nor how they liked to pull my blonde hair in Seoul.

Yeah, she was gonna love this trip.

So I offered it to her.

"You mean, you'd let me go on 'Semester At Sea?' Like you did? And she thought about it for all of two more seconds...

"No thanks."

I'd forgotten the most important thing... she would have to study on this trip. And actually open a book. Not something she's so good at. Not something that would hold any appeal to a kid with a social life.

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