“We’re driving down to Florida for Spring Break” – words that, I suspect, spark a frisson of apprehension into the heart of many an American parent when uttered by their offspring, never mind an English parent!
Let me set this in context. My eldest son is currently studying at a university in the States, funded by his soccer (as we have learned to call football) prowess. He is in his second semester (as we have learned to call “terms”) and by all accounts is thriving. We, as a family, are proud of him, and if truth be told, a little in awe of his courage and determination.
It was during a regular Skype conversation that we heard those words, closely followed by “so can I have some of next month’s money (living allowance) early please?”
My first reaction was Whoa, back up a bit! Who is “we”? Where are you staying? How long are you going for? Whose car are you going in? Who is driving? – My only knowledge of spring break comes from coming of age films which portray wild parties and hedonistic activities. Not much different to teenage holidays to Ibiza and Majorca you might say.
In a very calm, feigned patience kind of way he answered all of my questions. It was all planned. There was very little I could say, except “be careful and make good choices!” Which were greeted, as always, with a “yes Mum!” (Again with exaggerated patience). He and I had watched Freaky Friday together when he was about eleven. Jamie Lee Curtis’s character says “make good choices” to her offspring as she drops them at school each day. It became a standing joke that I would say it to him (in a terrible attempt at an American accent!). I said it now as an attempt to cover my apprehension while gently reminding him that I would worry – well that’s what I was aiming for.
I had to trust him, to trust that his “village” had equipped him with the skills and sense to “make good choices”. And I did, well sort of. Though that didn’t stop me wondering what he was up to on a daily basis for the ten days he was away, and yes, I’ll admit it – worry. My friends all told me he would be fine and commented on what a great experience he would be having. To keep myself sane I thought of his “village” – all of the people who have watched over him, helped to shape this confident and brave young man and given him the confidence to travel across the world to study and play football.
Ten days later I received a Facebook message. It began “hi Mumsie, sorry I didn’t send you a message for Mothers Day” and ended with “I’ll Skype tonight”. My overwhelming emotion? Relief – he was safely back on campus. Followed by a touch of self congratulation – he sent a message as soon as he got back!
He’d had a great time. And I’ve seen the photos on Facebook, and there was nothing too wild or embarrassing. Thank goodness!
The “village” done good (as my Grandpa would say!) Did I need to worry? Could I ever not worry?