The Kids Are Alright In London

Three of our six children are partying in London today. They booked this vacation in December because the dates worked for all of them, totally unaware that the Queen’s 60th jubilee would be going on during their visit. But what a party to crash!

For the past two days I’ve been watching the pageantry on TV and feeling so glad they are a part of it. I can picture them wandering around that stately and vibrant city – which we visited in April – amongst the fluttering British flags, goofy souvenir hats, overflowing pubs and revelers wearing masks of the Royal Family. My daughter Rachel, 27, is finally taking her first trip out of North America, after years of taking simpler vacations while she studies and works fulltime. My son Ryan, 24, lives in London, nine time zones away from his sister’s California apartment. Completing the trio is Bob’s son Jesse, their stepbrother, who’s on his second trip to Europe but his first to London. Within a few days they will join Bob’s daughter Rachel (yes, we have two Rachels) in Switzerland.

London is home to many distinctively named pubs. One of Jesse’s favorites.

Once we got the text that they landed safety, we were careful not to annoy them about keeping in touch. From our plush throne in the family room we watched the jubilee celebration on CNN and scanned the hundreds of thousands of faces along the Thames, looking for three familiar ones. We were thrilled when Jesse sent a message with a photo of the Queen’s royal barge, taken from Vauxhall Bridge, their vantage point for the jubilee celebration. I Google-mapped Vauxhall Bridge right away and shared the excitement vicariously for just a moment. I lurked on their Facebook pages to check for posts and pix, and my heart jumped a few minutes ago when I finally was rewarded. What other parent of grown kids still hovers like this?

Can’t help wondering if they are managing to stay dry, if their passports are in a safe place, if they’ve stowed their pounds and pence deep enough in their pockets. I hope they’ve learned the London subway and can remember the address of the hotel after the pubs close.

My kids, who live nine time zones apart, are enjoying being together in the world’s greatest city.

Worries aside, the fact that our children are vacationing together brings us profound joy. Fourteen years ago, after Bob and I married, I relocated to Boston with Rachel and Ryan, my kids from my first marriage. It was a vulnerable time for Bob’s kids and mine. Each family was used to having their parent all to themselves. But on our very first day here, Jesse insisted that my kids join him and his friends on a trip to the rope swing, a popular youth hangout on the banks of a nearby reservoir. It would be their first adventure in their new home, and Jesse was sensitive enough to know they needed one. The ensuing decade when we became a family was an adventure too, and there were times when we were not at our best. But with time, love and patience it did happen.

So now our amazing young adults are enjoying their latest great adventure — a continent away from the first one, as siblings and great friends, making their own way without us.