My baby is going away today. I wish she wasn't. I like to have everyone at home where I can touch them if I need to! It's not like it's the first time or anything. Brownie camp, school trips, a couple of music festivals and endless sleepovers mean that I regularly say goodnight to her in her absence. But this is different and a first for us. She is going on holiday with another family.
This concept is alien to me. I never went away with anyone else when I was a child and I never wanted to. It was the four of us and my brother and I played with whoever we managed to hook up with when we got there. Perhaps going away with your friend's family was less common then - or maybe it was just that no one ever invited me?
Now that I have my own family it would never cross my mind to take anyone else with us on the rare occasions that we all leave Ilkley together. Numbers are obviously an issue but with four children we are also pretty self sufficient. There is always someone to play with and the top two and bottom two are best friends, although they are sometimes reluctant to admit it. Adding someone else into the mix just causes trouble and fights where there weren't any before. With others around we get positioning, showing off and petty jealousies which never surface in the safe surroundings of your siblings.
But now I have to get my head round my child going on holiday with someone else. Will she be safe? How many of my ludicrously long list of dos and don'ts will be flouted? Will she come back slightly different to how she was before? I'd rather she didn't go. It leaves a big hole for the rest of us to try to fill.
And yet I have to say yes. Once I am sure there are no safety concerns then the rest of it is just a problem in my head. Keeping my family at my bosom and never letting go might be what my instincts are telling me to do but it's not in the best interests of my children. They need to explore the world and make discoveries for themselves and that includes seeing how other families function. And other families don't have the safety in numbers that we have. Mixed sex broods, big gaps and missing offspring all mean that sometimes there is room for a stowaway on a trip away. My child is vivacious, entertaining (if not a little loud) and polite. I hope she will make an attractive addition to a holiday grouping.
It's only three days and whilst she is leaving the country, her destination is Wales so I have no concerns about her getting lost. The family that she is going with are lovely and she will no doubt have a wonderful time and return a little bit more independent and worldly wise. And whilst she's gone I will tidy her bedroom and wait bravely for her to come home brimming with laughter and stories of her exploits.