Sometimes (not often), I long for my children to be small and helpless again so that I am responsible for them and can look after them and do everything in my power to keep them safe. This is especially true of travelling – it is certainly a lot easier to avoid danger when they’re with you and still defer to your higher regard for heightened dangers. Because, of course as we all know travel can go wrong at any time and even the best laid plans and every contingency thought of under the sun won’t necessarily help the situation you can find yourself in.
Of course, when I think about travelling with young children, there was a minefield of issues to consider and/or avoid – any of our holidays that basically involved armbands and rubber rings, the sea, swimming pools, steps, water of any description, risk of food poisoning, stranger danger, sunburn, mosquitoes, snakes, elephants, aeroplanes, boats, taxis, cars, buses, trains, luggage, allergies, sun stroke, earthquakes, tsunamis….had the potential to go wrong and I don’t frankly remember enjoying a lot of them a great deal because I literally saw disaster looming around every corner. That list could go on for the entire page – it really is a small wonder that we ever go anywhere abroad quite frankly.
But, having travelled all my life thanks to my parents, I have done the same with my children tucked under my arm, so it really shouldn’t come as any surprise that all three of my children have inherited a love of travelling. It’s very different now though as they are old enough to go on their own with friends – even spending their own hard earned cash on holidays because as my daughter says “you can’t replace memories and experiences are important.”
So, just a few weeks ago I found myself in the unenviably anxious position of having my two eldest children going away without me. My son to Croatia with friends, but my daughter went to Ayia Napa in Cyprus with about 3,000 of her closest friends. A total recipe for disaster in my book and something I know every parent dreads. But what can you do? She did something equally revolting last year and survived (although there were lots of dramas including one boy that got stabbed to death in a fight).
I must have spent in total about three solid days going through every single disaster I’ve ever heard of and advising her accordingly which I know must be really awful and depressing, I don’t remember my parents doing that to me – although I bet they did and I wasn’t listening – just as I can see my children’s eyes glaze over when I remember another drama or read out some horror story from the newspaper to add more weight to my argument.
Any newbie parents quivering in their boots at this point can use any or all of the following to try and put them off – it won’t work though (thank goodness – and of course you have to be sensitive to the personality of the child – if they are not brave by nature then perhaps have a little think about your choice of approach first!)
My list included the following horror stories:-
Drinks being spiked, followed by being raped by the paramedic on the way to the hospital
Being too drunk to notice that a man has climbed into the open window in room and raped one of the girls
Getting so drunk you fall over in the road and get run over (that happened tragically to a young boy out drinking with mates this time)
Dehydration owing to too much alcohol
Getting into fights
Falling off balconies
Honestly by the time I had finished with her I’m surprised she hadn’t zipped herself into a sleeping bag and refused to leave the house. And of course you also want to balance that with them having an amazing time with their friends ….it is just SO hard to let your children go and all you can do is hope that you have equipped them with enough common sense to get under, over or through any dramas that come their way.
So off she went, all shiny and happy and grown up with her band of gorgeous friends and she texted me here and there to let me know they were all still alive and I enjoyed looking at the Instagram feeds of the group – gave you some idea of what they had been up to (in a good way). Of course there were a few girly dramas to deal with amongst different groups, but they managed to get through them all and came out the other side with some quiet advice from parents back at home.
But then, a massive curveball thrown their way involving somebody back at home.
Unexpected and shocking beyond belief.
What I’m trying to say here, without giving too much away, is that it you can’t actually protect your children from every single eventuality in the big wide scary world because very often it is what happens practically on your own doorstep that can be the worst, most heartbreaking thing of all.