No matter what age your kids are you can’t help but worry about their safety. Once they or their friends reach the age of 17 there is the specific fear that comes when they are in a car driven either by them self or by one of their friends.
J does not drive yet, but he gets lifts to and from school with one or another mate who does. What can you do? You can’t wrap these young adults up in cotton wool. All you can do is hope with every bone in your body that these young people are good and sensible drivers.
Yesterday I had to go to the school as it was my daughter’s parents evening. Afterwards we had to do a bit of shopping. We got back about 7 to a house in darkness. I assumed J would be asleep as per usual. In we went and H popped upstairs. She came back down and asked where J was. ‘Oh ‘ I said – ‘it’s Wednesday. He plays football after school on Wednesday doesn’t he?’ ‘Not till this time he doesn’t,’ said H. I went from perfectly calm to feeling like I was going to throw up in less than a second. It really is not like him to be out without letting me know where he is.
I rang his mobile. J is like all 17 year olds I know in that his phone is never more then two inches from his hand and when I ring him he always answers pretty much instantly. His phone rang, and it rang. As it kept ringing for what felt like an eternity but was probably less than a minute I realised I didn’t even know if he had voice mail – I had absolutely always before been able to speak to him practically straight away. Then the phone was answered. The split second relief gave way to even more panic.
I could hear what seemed to be some kind of disturbance going on; there were raised voices and the general impression was of some kind of crisis. What I couldn’t hear was J. By now I just knew I was about to speak with some total stranger who was going to tell me something terrible had happened. I can’t describe the sheer terror I was feeling. But then I heard J’s voice. ‘Mum’. Only it was so quiet I thought an injured, or at best terribly shocked, J was just about managing to speak to me. By now I was in tears and was yelling at him to please tell me what had happened. I had also managed to scare the living daylights out of my daughter and my mum, both of whom were witness to this phone call.
‘Mum’, he whispered, ‘I’m in the cinema.’
It was Clint Eastwood who was responsible for the noises in the background.
Just one silly little example of how our imagination as a parent can go from zero to full scale worst case scenario in the blink of an eye.
Once I had given him merry hell upon his return for failing to leave me a message about what he was doing, he did get an extra tight hug.
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