When he was 13, his Scout troop went on High Adventure to the Grand Tetons. Did you know there are grizzly bears in Wyoming?
The boys and their leaders rode mountain bikes, ran the rapids on the Snake River, hiked in the woods, and visited national parks. My dueling emotions for my newly-anointed teenager were worried sick and totally exhilarated for his adventure.
Our son came home with delightful stories and a suitcase full of nasty, soiled clothes.
Each time his adventures took him a little farther from home, and now he lives and works in a Big, Scary City.
He is fine, and he has learned through all of his experiences how to deal with the world, even grizzly bears. About a month ago, a black bear was sighted in the area where NBC Nightly News studios are located, literally across the street from his college apartment. Now he lives two miles from there, but often visits friends near campus.
I worried about this, though the chances of our son encountering a black bear in the middle of Washington, D.C., are about as likely as me winning the Hoosier Lottery.
As I sat and talked with my adult son over the weekend, I realized that the real worries for mothers in our country are not the occasional black bears. (Though one was recently sited in Owensboro, Kentucky, across the Ohio River from us.)
The real worries for all mothers are those we often want to ignore – the poverty and hunger in our own cities. My father lives in West Lafayette – in theory one of the most affluent areas in Indiana – yet thousands of school children bring home backpacks full of food for the weekend and return the empty backpacks on Monday. With his friends at a retirement home, my dad packs the bags on Thursday and food is distributed to children on Fridays.