My eldest daughter finished school this summer, and is on her gap year.
So the Wednesday of her flight to Sydney arrived. I was at work, my husband was on a business trip and she had forgotten to arrange with anyone for a lift to Heathrow!
Luckily my elderly parents got her there, just about on time. I received a frantic text at work 30 minutes before her take-off, asking for the contact details of my relatives in Sydney as she had somehow lost them. Well she’d just have to wait till I got home for that, it was going to be a long flight anyway and this didn’t bode well for a year away. I girded myself for the next 24 hours waiting for another text… would she text to say that she had lost her visa? her money? her passport? would she make her connection in Dubai successfully? Any number of horrors passed through my mind…
When she was 13 years old, I had sent her, alone, to Hamburg to stay with her German pen-pal family for three weeks. I took her to Gatwick, helped her to check-in and then made sure she walked through passport control with the right gate number written on her hand. She looked so small all on her own; this would be a big test of her independence… and mine. I had driven home and was having a cup of tea in the garden when I got a text from her “No one here to meet meL”. I still remember the grip in my stomach, the horrid sinking feeling, of not being able to reach her. A quick call to the host mother however, had discovered that they were waiting at a different terminal exit, and I was still on the line as they ran for three minutes across the terminal, until, breathless, the lovely Frau said “I can see her – we have her! Everything is alright now.”
But this was going to be different. She is 18; no one is running to meeting her.
Eventually on Friday I got the text. All was fine: made friends on the plane, weather hot, found their way to central Sydney from the airport on a bus…been shopping for clothes already, heading out for a barbeque with people they’ve met.
My husband says I should stop fretting, and try to assume the best case scenario. What was it that Arthur Ransom wrote in Swallows & Amazons…if not duffers - will not drown…well actually, not very comforting when your child is on the other side of the planet, but I will try… I expect she’s probably on a beach already...