Four hours from now, my 16-year-old daughter will board
a plane, by herself, bound for Toronto. I am sincerely (and irrationally)
afraid that she will be abducted by a sheik and forced into his harem, never to
be seen by her family again.
This makes no sense at all, because my daughter is very
mature and responsible, and has flown transcontinental about 26 times,
not to mention domestic flights. She’s totally got this, and is excited to
visit her best friend, Hanna who just moved to Canada.
Meanwhile, the movie Taken
continually runs through my mind. What if someone slips a mickey into her
Sprite on the plane? Or, what if the sheik travels with a syringe of sedative
that he sticks my daughter with, as she stands on the moving sidewalk in the
Detroit airport, then he guides her outside into his waiting stretch limousine? The ridiculous thoughts just keep streaming.
Last night I made Claire’s favorite—clam chowder in bread
bowls. After dinner, she and her 14-year-old sister, Camille helped me
with the dishes then we sat on the couch watching the show Catfish together. I was struggling with
how much self-defense type of information to share with Claire. I felt that I
had to give her some insight in how to be prepared for potential hazards. In
hindsight, it may have been better to remind her about the 4-ounce liquid rule
for carry-on luggage, or not to wear lace-up shoes because she will have to
take them off at security, but I decided to dive right in the scarier, less
Me: “Claire, you know if someone points a gun at you, or
even goes so far as to press the gun's muzzle into your ribs, and tells you to
go with them—you know that you shouldn’t, right?” There was a pause and my
sweet daughter just stared at me, silently; the flash of the TV illuminating
her face in the darkened room. Camille leaned forward to see me. She had a look
of bewildered horror on her face
Me: “Let me rephrase that. If someone threatens you, with a
gun, or a hunting knife, or just an angry, verbal threat even, and tells you
that you have to go with them, you
have a better chance if you run away from them, than if you go with them. Because,
even if they shoot at you, they will most likely miss, unless they are a
trained marksman, and even if they hit you, it most likely won’t kill ... you.”
She looked at me in silence again. Then she opened her mouth
to speak, rethought, closed her mouth and turned back to watch the show.
It occurs to me that maybe I’m not really afraid of the sheik stealing my baby.
Me: “How are you feeling about your trip tomorrow? Are you excited?”
Me: “Are you nervous?”
Claire: “I wasn’t until you told me that a man was going to shoot me.”
Camille: “Yeah. That was stupid, mommy.”
Me: “No one is going to shoot you, it’s just a good piece of information to have, right?”
Claire: “Sure ... you’re so weird.”
Me: “I know. Good night.” I went to bed and dreamed I was Liam Neeson.
This morning I went to the grocery store and bought bags of
sunflower seeds, smoked almonds and trail mix. If the plane goes down, and
she’s stranded on some unknown island in the middle of ... Lake Ontario ... I want to
make sure that she has enough sustenance to nourish her until I can get there
in my kayak and save her.
I’m packing all this into her carry-on bag, working myself
into state of panic, when it occurs to me that maybe I’m not really afraid of
the sheik stealing my baby. Maybe I am actually afraid that in less than two
years, I will be packing up her bags for college and that in about 22 months, my eldest daughter, my firstborn, the girl with whom I share the same
sense of humor—that person will be moving out of close proximity to me and our
family. I won’t get to kiss her cheek every morning or laugh with her at the
dinner table every night. And Camille—who is so close with Claire that even
though they have their own bedrooms, they choose to share a bed so that they can
talk until they fall asleep—will have an even harder time when her sister
leaves for college.
A tremendous sense of loss washed over me; my body and heart
suddenly felt heavy. I never thought about this time in her life really coming
to be. I only have her for a few more
years. I sat down on the couch and stared at the wall; the hum
of the dryer was the only noise in the house.
I went into the kitchen and opened the junk drawer where I
keep a small envelope of money, leftover from cashed paychecks. I picked a $50 bill
and tucked it into Claire’s carry-on bag with a note that read, “Go out to
lunch in the city with Hanna. Have a blast and if you think of it, take a picture
and send it to me. Y.O.L.O.—mommy.”
In just a bit, I’ll drive her to the airport, check her in,
then watch as she walks through security, on her own.
4 cups fish stock (check the seafood department’s freezer section),
or clam broth
2 cans Campbell's cream of celery soup
1 can water
2 fish bouillon cubes
2 pounds chopped clams (frozen or fresh, if you can get them)
2 to 3 pounds red skin potatoes, small cube
Pinch of dried thyme
1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
1 soup can of milk
handful of chopped parsley
1. In a large soup pot, sauté the fat back or bacon in a dry pan
over medium heat, until most of the fat is rendered, then add in the celery and
onion—sauté until soft. Sprinkle in flour and stir to cook for a minute or two
then deglaze with wine (scraping up the bits stuck to the bottom of the pot).
2. Add in fish stock, celery soup, 1 can water and fish or
clam bouillon. Scrape the bottom of the pot again. Cover and bring
just to a simmer. Add in the clams, potatoes, thyme and black pepper. Bring back
to a simmer and simmer gently for 15 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning.
3. When ready to serve, pour in milk and add parsley, stir and
cook until hot, but not simmering (definitely not boiling—which will break the
4. Scoop bread out of bread bowls and ladle soup in. Serve at