I’m in the process of setting up a new campaign and already have several new recruits – MAGY’S = “Mothers Against Gap Year’s”. It’s all too much – we are not coping well.
My soon-to-be-travelling-to-the-end-of-the-world son is sitting behind me filling in a Visa application to Cambodia (and farting). He is off to various embassies today and to get his Japanese Encephalitis jab (I still don’t know what that is but it better be worth it because it’s costing me somewhere in the region of £78 and that’s on top of £150 for a rabies jab…).
I’ve been relatively calm up until now, because of course it’s a good thing that he’s off to spread his wings a little. Flee the nest for a minute. I know SEA really well – I couldn’t love it more. I have never felt safer. However putting myself into the mind and body of a 19 year old boy with 6 mates is an entirely different matter. Their brains function differently. They’re not sensible. Now that I’m getting a little more involved in the detail I’ve noticed my stress levels rising. My friends aren’t helping – mothers of two other boys who are going with him – they are not only far more hands on than me but are beginning to freaking me out about things like losing visas and border controls.
Here is an email my friend sent me yesterday:-
“After being very laid back about their forthcoming trip – am now feeling completely sick about the whole thing!! Was online last night checking he’d got the right info re visas etc and went on a few sites about safety, crime rates, healthcare, emergency services or lack of them!! Also read a few students real life experiences and freaked myself out. Anyway obviously haven’t slept a wink and now becoming completely paranoid so Catholic priest booked in for major blessing plus have asked a girl who has recently come back from travelling to meet up with them to chat about her experiences of travelling through Asia. She’s back from uni for a few days so thought it might be a good idea to get the boys together with her for a drink. I know my son won’t be impressed that I’m now interfering but his whole approach so far seems very naive and vague. Nowhere in Asia seems particularly great for blonde English teenage youths but Cambodia – well certain parts – sounds really scary.
Sorry don’t want to make you nervous and I’m sure they’ll be fine but I think the reality of them being away for a long period of time in strange lands is just hitting home!”
FFS – the bloody rubber ring thing in Laos!! Shall we just follow them in disguise? I think I can get my mother to come for 4 months. Should be fine. Would be good to get together. Maybe we could also find somebody who looks awful who spent some time in a Thai prison to come to the pub for a drink too? Just to put them off? Know anyone?
Yes any deterrent is a good idea – this weekend I’m planning to run continuous showings of Apocalypse Now, The Deerhunter and The King of Siam – that should be enough to put anyone off!! Be good to meet up soon.
“Don’t forget “Midnight Express” – that’s the best one!! Must order it on Amazon now.
Anyway. You see how easy it is to whip yourself up into a frenzy of total panic. At this rate I’ll be at the airport refusing to let go of his leg and shouting at all the security men to stop him.
I wonder if this is because he’s my firstborn and it’s all new. Another phase in his life that I want to be involved in, take an interest in. Like all the 85,000 photos I took of him when he was born, started crawling, walking, swimming, going to school – as if he was the first child to ever do all that stuff. Isn’t it incredible how much information you can absorb at each stage – I was so knowledgeable on breast Vs bottle feeding and prams and primary schools and contagious water born diseases you can catch in swimming pools. I’ve got notes on his growth, his first words, I’ve even got a little box of his teeth. Surprised I haven’t got test tubes full of poo samples to be honest.
I wonder how much that level of focus from a parent affects the child long term and whether it’s therefore a good or bad thing that my third child is going to have an entirely different experience. He is at the opposite end of the spectrum and is convinced that there isn’t one photo of him growing up and to be honest, although I try to convince him otherwise, I haven’t found it yet. I have no memory of his first words, no photo album of his first year, no little umbilical cord clips (yuk) and no box of teeny weeny teeth. In fact, I am ashamed to admit that once, when I managed to lose his tooth before it went under his pillow for the tooth fairy I “borrowed” one from my little box that belonged to his older brother – but it was a little brittle and the wrong colour and he wasn’t really convinced.
Does this mean I’ll be far more chilled when it comes to his travels? Maybe I won’t even notice he’s gone….Unlikely. He’s my last child. He gets just the same amount of love from me, but in a different way. Must ask him about it all though and maybe try harder in future – wonder if he will want me to come with him to the hairdressers and save some locks of hair and other such stuff….