This morning at 5.50am my son, A, flew to Mallorca to join his Aunt, Uncle and family at my parent's in-law's flat. It is the first time he has flown on his own - and at 13 really did not need to be an "unaccompanied minor" but as he had not flown alone before we thought it was a good idea. Don't get me wrong, A has flown more air miles than most people have had hot dinners. His first flight was at 8 months and if it weren't for 9/11 he would still love flying as much as he did as a little boy. Now, like most of us, he approaches it with a reasonable amount of trepidation but an acceptance that if we want to travel we just have to get on with it and not let anyone scare us. This does not explain why I nearly burst into tears when I heard he had arrived safely. Not much getting on with it going on there. Really stupid I know, but he'll be my baby till he's 110. Having said that I'll never hold him back - I'm always the one telling him to jump in with both feet and not to be afraid of anything or anyone.
Anyway we decided to send him as an "unaccompanied minor" as he had never flown from Gatwick airport (we always fly from Heathrow if we are flying from London) nor had he ever flown alone into Mallorca. He speaks reasonable French but not much Spanish. So we thought it was a good idea. Yet even as I stood with A in the waiting area with the four other "unaccompanied minors" (one a really tiny little boy - what a brave mum he's got!) I felt a sense of trepidation. Sadly I think it was less to do with worrying about him and more to do with realising he isn't really a little boy any more. And of course due to the fact it was four o'clock in the morning and I'd had very little sleep I was totally emotional. Suddenly I was watching him go off to college, dancing at his wedding and growing old. Good grief, it was ridiculous.
Anyway we waited a little while, A with his pouch round his neck containing boarding pass and passport ("From now on I'll look after my own when we travel together Mum"), and then the lady from BA came to escort him to the plane. From the carbonated paperwork we had filled out, she took the green slip, A took the white slip and I got the pink one. He hugged me and his Dad and went off - didn't even look back once.
My husband remarked I looked a bit lost as we walked away. I just held on to the pink slip and my dignity with both hands. Time for a little bit of personal reinvention for this 21st Century Housewife I think. A isn't the only one who is growing up.