Big daughter is going to Peru next year. Next year! Only a few short weeks ago it was “in two years’ time”, but now it feels much closer – and it doesn’t seem like five minutes since big daughter was the same age and size as small daughter is now, so how can she possibly be going to Peru for four weeks next year?!
Her trip is being organised through her college by World Challenge, an international company with over thirty years’ experience of sending teenagers abroad, and I’m much happier at the thought of waving her off at the airport knowing that she is part of a group with a carefully planned itinerary and a backup plan in case of emergencies. She won’t be taking her phone with her though, so the only time we will hear from her will be if something goes wrong – no news is good news, apparently!
One of the focal points of her time away will be to work on a social project – possibly at a school or in a children’s home – and that makes us very proud as it’s the reason that big daughter wanted to go. She feels that it is important to make a difference in your life and in others’ lives wherever you can, and to have this desire to help at a young age is a wonderful thing.
I can remember being big daughter’s age and feeling that the world was mine for the taking. The potential to do anything that I wanted to do was just there. It’s a liberating time, that space between finishing your education and having to become part of the “real world” with jobs, commuting and all the other requirements of being a grown up. I’m torn between excitement for big daughter and her wonderful adventure, wishing that I could have had the opportunity to do something similar at her age, and being terrified that this is the beginning of our girl leaving the nest to start her own life. My Dad would say that your children never actually leave, they just have different needs (“Dad, can you help me build this shelf?” rather than “Dad, can you push me on the swing?”), but it’s still a huge step and not one that I am sure I am ready to take.
The only consolation is that big daughter’s trip isn’t until next year. Before then, we have a lot of work to do. The travel company encourages the students to pay for themselves, believing that something you have worked hard to achieve is more satisfying and better appreciated than something handed to you on a plate. She’s already started fundraising and is making good progress, and it’s been wonderful to watch the pride with which has she has been able to pay her instalments.
Later this month is her biggest fundraising event yet – a sponsored abseil at Manchester Velodrome. When I talk about her flying the nest, I’m not sure that abseiling 130 feet from the roof is quite what I had in mind!
PS I'm hoping to help out with the fundraising later this year by turning my basic sock tutorial into a small book to sell on Amazon, the proceeds of which I'll be donating to big daughter's fund. (I did wonder if the world needs another beginners' sock-knitting book, but then decided that I'd never know the answer to that if I never wrote it!) I'm planning a sock-a-long to go with it; the intention is to show as many people as possible that sock knitting isn't scary! What do you think?