Jordan and her friend are going on their first ‘sun holiday’ later this week. One week of being abroad, away from parental control and attention, the two 19-year-olds are prepared to have high jinks, sun burn and ‘craic’. She has packed her suitcase with enough clothes to stay a month and has counted every penny she has saved at least twice.
Andrew and I have smiled and tried to sound enthusiastic as she unfolds her holiday plans before us. They’re staying in a hostel, going to Sitges to ‘party’ one of the nights, going to various places where young folk go.
I am a gibbering wreck.
I held it together as much as humanely possible, but this weekend the dam was breached and I – naturally – descended into full-blown panic, resulting in me bending her ear in a really tedious fashion.
‘Be careful who you talk to.’
‘Don’t accept drinks from strangers, you never know what is in them.’
‘Don’t carry all your money at once.’
‘Don’t tell anyone where you’re staying.’
‘Here, here is a video of ‘Taken,’ starring Liam Neeson. I want you to study it. This can and does happen in real life.’
‘Wear sun screen.’
‘Don’t get really drunk.’
‘Don’t walk home alone.’
‘Don’t talk to strange men – oh I said that already? Sorry.’
My husband has also been pestered. ‘Have you put credit in her phone? We should probably get the number of that hostel, oh and who do you know over there that she can contact in case they get robbed, she ought to have a contact in case–’
‘You’re driving yourself nuts,’ he said. ‘Stop worrying. They will be fine.’
And I was, I am. I’m so very scared something ‘might happen’. What, I cannot say, will not even put into words, but something.
‘This is so sexist! Would you be giving me all this advice if I was a boy?’ A clearly irate daughter asked as I frowned over her choice of holiday footwear (really, how can you flee a would be rapist in six-inch heels?).
Indeed. Would I ?
No, I am ashamed to say, I probably wouldn’t.
‘It’s not you I’m worried about, Sweetie it’s–’
‘Everyone else.’ She finished, so used to that particular bon mot of mine.
And it is everyone else I’m worried about, because the sad fact is that for a young pretty 19-year-old the world can be your oyster and a very dangerous place indeed. Maybe it is sexist of me to be more concerned because she is a girl, and maybe she is correct and I wouldn’t be bending the ear off a 19-year-old boy with the same intensity. But here we are.
When does it ever stop, I wonder.