Today, of course, at least in the Western world, a boy aged 13--whether or not he has had a bar mitzvah--is probably only just getting around his home town on his own. And if he lives in an area not served by public transit, he's still counting on a parent or older sibling to drive him where he needs to go. He's still got about 4-5 years left before finishing high school and he probably doesn't know how to make much more than a peanut butter and jam sandwich. A man? You must be joking.
But today, my 18 year old son is becoming a man. As I write this, he's sitting in a window seat in the plane on his way to Paris. He'll be travelling for two months, mostly with a couple of his best buddies, but he starts his trip on his own for a few days in Paris. He'll then head to Munich and from there, well, we don't know yet. He'll just make up his mind as he goes. The guys are planning to spend the last two weeks of November in Amsterdam and my son will then travel back to Paris and take the plane home.
My son is fairly resourceful and aware of his surroundings. He's been travelling around our large city on his own since he was about 12. For the past month, he's been training in Krav Maga, an Israeli self-defence technique. I certainly hope he'll never have to use it. He speaks French and English and he's quite a personable young man. My logical brain tells me he'll be fine. The mom in me worries.
I also have to admit that I'm more than slightly jealous of my boy. As we were walking through the airport with him, my husband joked that the greatest danger he was in was from me bopping him over the head, stealing his ticket and getting on the plane myself! Not entirely untrue ;).
So give a thought to my marvellous D. and his many adventures. May he come home a man, safe and brimming with adventures--not all of which he will tell his mom and dad!