When Jax turned 16, he walked into our bedroom and announced to Raylan and I that he was going on vacation with two of his friends that summer.
Raylan and I: Oh Really!
Jax: Yes, we're going to stay at Grandma and Grandpa's house in St. George for a week and then spend a couple of days in Vegas.
Me(Step-Mom/killer of fun): You're only 16!
Jax: So, Brad is going to be 17 in six months!
Raylan: And who is going to pay for the gas, food, a hotel room, etc?
Jax: Um, well ..........
Long story short Jax didn't end up taking his road trip with his friends. Instead a deal was hatched between us and Jax. When he graduated from High School, Raylan and I would send him to Hawaii for his Graduation trip; his arifare, a place to stay and some money for food. And best of all he could invite a couple of friends to stay with him, no parents! Well kind of, we would be on the island, in a different location in case of an emergency. He agreed to that plan and has been bascially counting the days until then.
That day finally arrived on Sunday when Jax, his best friend, Raylan and I traveled on the same plane over here! We had a dinner and breakfast with them, got them settled in to their condo. Other than that we haven't seen much of them! We've run into them a couple of times at the beach and at one of our family's favorite restaurants. Other than that no sightings to speak of. Luckily we've only had two emergencies so far; should he put a pan in the dishwasher? And by the way, how do you start the dishwasher? Pretty low key! I hope it stays that way another couple of days!
Kauai has been a huge part in the bonding of our family. Since 2002 we've been here once a year with our three youngest. The kids immediately fell in love with the beach, the ocean, the entire island the first time they set foot here. On our very first trip, they missed a week of school. Raylan and I decided to have them do video reports from various locations on the island to share with their classmates when they returned. For some reason, every time they did a report - all three of them started off with Hi- this is Elle, Jax or Little Hart reporting live from Hawaii, Kauai! So damn cute -it's ingrained in my mind forever.
Now, being here with Jax on "his" own vacation, Raylan and I have been reminiscing about all the great memories we have of the kids vacationing here. Truthfully it's been a comfort to have Jax here with his best friend, rather than somewhere else. It feels like he's hanging out at home. A comfort to Raylan and I as we try to adjust to him being on his "own" vacation. And probably a trial run for what lays ahead of us in the coming months - Jax on his own at College!
This trip has also been a big role reversal between Raylan and I. He's usually telling me to let go of the chains with the kids. Give them some space - they're 17! But this trip has brought out the Pappa Bear in him-- "Let's invite them over to dinner? Meet for a burger?" No honey, they'll call if they want to get together. They want to be alone - he's been waiting two long years for this - we'll see them in a couple of days!
Eleven years later, I'm grateful that Jax is experiencing a normal rite of passage with his Graduation Trip! Thankful that a tradition in our blended family is a place for him to not only take his graduation trip, but a place to proudly share with his best friend because of all the great memories he has from being here with our family. Perhaps a small thing, but a significant one in our journey as a blended family!