Saturday, June 30, 2007

The Highland Fling

In theory, the point of parenthood is giving your children the confidence and skills to be independent. In practice: harder than I thought.

Around noon today, my wife and I put our 19-year-old daughters on a plane bound for Scotland, where they'll earn college credit studying medieval history and warfare for a month. This seemed like a really fine idea a few months ago. It even seemed like a fine idea as the departure date got closer and more concrete, and we had to do things like buy electricity conversion kits and contemplate our girls being completely beyond our ability to swoop in and make their boo-boos all better. It didn't even seem like a terrible idea when a couple of car bombs were found in London yesterday; London's a big city, our kids were only going to spend a few hours passing through, and the terrorists seemed pretty inept anyway.

So today we saw them off to Scotland, waving goodbye at the security checkpoint leading to their departure gate. I swear, less than a minute later and 20 steps away I stopped at a television showing footage of a flaming car crashed into an airport terminal. My wife walked up behind me.

"London?" she asked.

"Scotland," I answered.


It took the network another five minutes to tell us that the scene we were watching was in Glasgow, not our girls' destination of Edinburgh. As terrorism goes, it seemed like a relatively minor incident (and, again, idiotically inept), but I saw that Glasgow Airport suspended flights and, at this writing--with my wee bairns still en route somewhere over the Arctic Circle--we have no idea how it'll impact their flight and the connection they need to make in London. Guess we'll find out in the morning.

Rationally, I know there are a lot of 19 year olds doing much riskier things in the world, and that mine won't be blown up. Whatever happens, they'll figure it out and be all right. But I don't think I'll rest easily tonight.
UPDATE 1: Well, they called when they got to Edinburgh a few hours ago (6 a.m. Sunday our time). That's most of the way there. We're expecting to hear from them when they reach their final destination soon.

UPDATE 2: Took a little longer than we expected, but they made it all the way. Whew.


Sherwood Harrington said...

And, now, I won't rest easily, either.

Logical risk assessment and reasonable analysis of dangers just don't work in these circumstances, do they?

Here's wishing you what is the most likely outcome: that they have a wonderful, enriching, uplifting journey. As I did abroad when we bombed Libya, and, again, when the term "shoebomb" went from a typo to a recognized noun.

Best wishes, Brian.

ronnie said...

Glad to hear things turned out all right... Your level of apprehension seems quite appropriate, which is astonishing, really, when you think about it :)

What a wonderful opportunity for them. It hadn't occurred to me that one of the benefits of attending the same college in the same year as your sibling allows you to share some of the exciting experiences that introduce themselves in those years.

Mike said...

For years, I regularly sent my boys across the Atlantic to visit their mother -- and one of them is there now, but since he turns 35 in a few weeks, my involvement in the planning was considerably less.

What I quickly came to realize is that the people doing the traveling are frequently unaware of whatever chaos is apparently happening around them, and so, when you finally get hold of them and ask about whatever accident, act of terrorism or weather disaster has been all over CNN since they departed, you get a quizzical little "huh?"

This may, of course, have changed in the current age where I suppose they lock down everything around the world the moment someone shoplifts a candy bar in the B concourse at the Des Moines airport...

Brian Fies said...

Sherwood, I feel bad about transferring my angst to you. I appreciated your "experienced traveler during a crisis" perspective.

Ronnie, the whole "twin thing" has been a surprising source of strength for my girls on many occasions. The stereotype is that twins get too dependent on each other, but in our case I think knowing someone always has your back gives them some extra confidence.

Mike, very true. When we finally spoke to our girls and said we were afraid the Glasgow terrorism might've messed up their schedule, they replied, "Huh?" In fact their connecting flight was delayed and they'd heard Glasgow Airport was closed, but had no idea why. Ignorance = bliss.