As the proud owner of an 18 year old on the brink of leaving home (assuming he gets the results required to get into the university of his choice) I am beginning to learn how to let go and stop worrying about him when he's out of my sight. Given that finishing A Levels appears to be the excuse to pack in about eight different post exam holidays where they don't appear to get any sleep for days on end, to worry about them daily would simply result in a heart attack.
He is about to embark on an 3 week tour of "cheap beers" around Europe with five of his mates. The thought of it fills me with horror. In my day, when we all went inter-railing around Europe our parents simply had to wave us off with our rucksacks and hope for the best. Now we have a means of spying on them, of tracking their route. Sort of like giving them a bar code or a little mini camera to put on to their heads. We can check in and even sometimes expect a reply. Now that he's 18 he has finally added me as a "friend" on Facebook so that I can see what they're all up to. Initially I was delighted - how wonderful to be able to share in his experience, but I have to say it's not for the weak hearted and I'm wondering if perhaps it was better for my parents who were blissfully ignorant about what we all got up to. Mostly it's all rather horrifying and you wish you hadn't looked...
My friend called me this morning. "OMIGOD, I've just had a look at Jack's photos and I'm quite sure, although his head is turned to the side that it's not a spot he's got on his lower lip, IT"S A NEW PIERCING! I'm going to kill him." I too discovered that my son had allowed himself to be branded with yet another tattoo whilst on holiday recently in Cyprus. Then you have to look at photos of them behaving badly in nightclubs and dancing on tables - "who ARE all those people he's with?" I constantly think to myself. Another friend, who happened to be away decided to check out how her 17 year old daughter was getting on - many photos of a wild party, which on closer inspection was at her house.
Still, it's a brave new world out there and unless we want to shut our eyes tightly and turn off the computer, we might as well get onboard the cyber train and just go with it. At least it's reassuring to know they're still alive - try and ignore the rest.