It’s Friday night, the start of half term and a welcome break from revision and exams. Two of my sons are out with friends and I’m on standby waiting for the text to say they’d like to be picked up. We’ve agreed a latest time for collection but they know that they can contact me anytime and I’ll set off to get them.
I’m filled with apprehension, so many things could go amiss. My sons are lovely, they’ve given me very little trouble over the years, they’re polite, caring and considerate. Best of all they’re good at choosing loyal friends. They’re all pretty sensible and they look out for each other but once they reach an age where alcohol is involved anything can happen. It only takes one person in the group to have one too many drinks for things to go wrong and that puts everyone in danger. One drink too many may cause someone to become outspoken and lead to a fight. One drink too many may result in someone being stupid and getting everybody into trouble. One drink too many may stop someone from being careful when walking through town. One drink too many may lead them to take risks and get in a car with a driver who’s been drinking. One drink too many may lead to an encounter with the police. One drink too many may result in a night at the hospital.
I try to relax, I try not to worry, I remind myself that my boys are sensible but at night the demons in my head don’t go away and I can’t settle. It’s on nights like this that I really miss having a partner, someone who can allay my fears, someone to lean on if things do go wrong. Instead it’s the turn of my 15 year old to keep me company until I get the text to set off and collect his brothers. He understands that I worry and he lifts my spirits with his cheerful conversation. I know he will stay up until we return, just in case he’s needed. It makes me sad that he has to give me this support but it makes me so proud that he wants to do this, not just for me but for his siblings.
So I sit and I wait. I perpetually look at my watch, willing the time to go more quickly. Why is it that during the day I never have enough hours to get all my work done and yet now, when I want it to go fast, time seems to stand still. Soon I’ll be able to set off and collect them. We’ll drop off various friends on the way and finally we’ll be home, safe and sound. They’ll be happy and chatty and probably keep me up for another hour or so playing me songs, telling me about their escapades and even though I’ll be desperate for bed, I’ll stay up with them, enjoying the moment and rejoicing that once again all is well.