Wednesday, 10 October 2012

When daughters fly

I have four daughters. This piece is prompted by one of them, but applies to them all.

And sometimes she flies. No, I don't mean fly the nest. Not that moment when you leave her in the car park at uni knowing she has cases to unpack. Leaving her full of excitement and terror with all the gizmos she might need but no sensible knickers. And you go home to an empty house and you're not sure if you like it, or if you should like it, so you make her favourite meal for tea and wimper a bit and then play your own music and read your own books and no one interrupts and you realise you could get used to this.

No - I mean flying in the air. In an aeroplane. A huge metal contraption that, looked at objectively, shouldn't be in the air. That smell - of stale air, and yesterday's supper. That are filled with people who, at best, could be overweight and at worst (I disregard the terrorism option) are sick with beri beri or typhoid or mysterious green-frothy disease which everyone will catch. Daughters sit in this thing, above the ocean, for hours. With no realistic means of escape. Then they have to land - on something as tiny as a runway and come to a careful halt, without so much as bruising a finger!

I know what you're thinking. I agree with you - it's fine for me to go flying, head across the world when I feel like it. There are countries to explore, adventures to be had. And I have no problem with them having adventures - even adventures in unlikely places. I do not need to keep the world away from them.

I just wish she could get there a different way. Not in a plane. I know the statistics - she is safer in a plane than crossing the road (though I have been known to reach out to hold a hand crossing the road, in an unthinking, maternal way, and been put back in my place!). But there's something about planes, all those people crammed together in that tiny space, and no plan B should something go wrong. I quite enjoy it for myself - but shudder each time I leave her at the airport.

I know I shouldn't check the news. I'd hear soon enough if there were a problem. I know there is no point looking up in the sky as if just wishing her well could keep her safe. At least I have the sense not to watch Airplane.

Welcome Home, Anna!


  1. Oh, so true!
    My 17 year old son went to Shanghai alone for a week to do work experience, and my main worry was the travel. My husband thought I was mad, but my reckoning was that I could control everything else, even remotely, but I couldn't sort the plane!
    Of course he was fine...

  2. Oh yes Jo! For thirteen years mine flew backward and forwards to Kuala Lumpur at least once a year, and for 12 of them sometimes pregnant or with combinations of numbers of grandchildren. They live here now but still go regularly back the other way for holidays. I soooo know that feeling! xx

  3. I think all mothers would know how you feel,we never stop worrying about our children. My son likes jumping from planes and flying on kites which means jumping off mountains. I try to just block it from my mind or I'd be a nervous wreck.

  4. Oh yes Jo, this struck a chord with a mighty clang!!!

  5. Yes, it is ironic, almost, that we should fuss about them. My kids have occasionally fussed when I've gone to dangerous bits of the world (or bits perceived as dangerous) and I've been "Oh for heavens SAKE, mum - I mean, daughter."

    Still when it is your kids, it's rather hard to break the habit of a lifetime. That's what I say, anyway

  6. Thank you all - at least I'm not the only one. (I saw Anna to say - you can imagine what she said!)

  7. Glad you said it first, Jo. Now you know how they feel when you're coming face to face with jungle beasts. As might be expected, I too worry myself silly when any of the kids fly. I set the computer so I can watch live arrivals in said airport, even if they land in the middle of the night. Only when LANDED appears on the screen can I go to bed.