Friday, 1 August 2014

The accidental island-hopper

Leaving Paros - hold on, that wasn't the plan!
The phone rings. It’s No.1 (and only) son, calling from Paros. No surprise there. I was expecting his “I’ve arrived” call round about now.

Early this morning, he was delivered by his dad to the ferry that would take him to the Cyclades for a few days holidays without us - the first time he was travelling solo outside of Attica. I wasn’t worried. The weather’s good. The trip’s just a few hours. He has a brain and tongue in his head. What could go wrong, right?

But there’s something in his voice that alerts me. 

It’s not the chirpy holiday tone I expected, but one laced with anxiety and frustration. 

He’s not calling from portside. He’s still onboard, having finally located his bag (helpfully moved to an entirely different part of the hold) only after the ship cast off and started steaming its way across the sea to Naxos, and then on to Ios. 

My heart twinges as I imagine his frustration and panic as he watched the port of Parikia get smaller and smaller and prepared to call us and tell us the news. Cue one frustrated 17-year-old, and an even more annoyed and anxious father.

So, as I type, instead of heading for the beach to splash around like a happy maniac for the next four hours, No.1 is enduring an extended sea trip that will see him do the Paros-Naxos-Ios-Naxos-Paros round trip.

I try to calm the men in my life, telling them that it’s not a big deal (especially as the officials on board told him he can do the round trip without having to pay any extra). It’s an experience, I say (hopefully a learning one). It’s an adventure, I say. Maybe he’ll even see some dolphins or meet new and interesting people.

But inside I’m screaming “My poor baby!” and fighting the rising sensation that it’s all MY fault. I had been uncharacteristically calm about my teenage traveller’s first solo trip. Not a single scenario popped into my head as I waved him off. So, of course, fate took note, was duly tempted, and decided to throw a baggage handler’s spanner in the works.

There’s nothing I can do. I have to get all zen about it. He’s on his own and he will be fine – even without me. It will be a lesson for him, and probably more so for us. I just know I won’t breathe freely until he finally reaches his original destination. At least he can just sit back and go with the flow, watch the seagulls and have a story to tell afterwards.

Meanwhile, I'm sitting here chewing my toenails to the quick whilst smiling manically (and unconvincingly) at anyone who looks my way.

Blimey, this “learning to let go” deal is a bitch, isn’t it?

UPDATE - 5.50pm:
Teen traveler safely disembarked in Paros. Let the holiday begin!


  1. We will never completely let go......our 6ft married man son is still 'my baby' in some just gets easier as they grow up.........and your lad will be fine and as you rightly say have a story to tell...

  2. I've wondered about how this will feel... In a parallel universe kind of way I get it! Your post, Libby's comment, Mr One asleep in his cot upstairs... I feel relieved to have the answer already - we won't ever really let go!

    Sometimes it's the unexpected turns of events that are the MOST exciting ones! I hope he has a good trip :-)

    Thanks for joining #brilliantblogposts - I've absolutely loved finding your blog & reading your posts!