My son is about to embark on his first ever trip abroad by himself. I am in ever revolving turns all proud, excited, nervous, thrilled, worried. He is 17 years old, a slightly peculiar age of not being quite grown up but just finding his way in the world, starting to get more independent yet always happy being surrounded by home comforts, and content to be looked after by mum (as long as I don't embarrass him in front of his friends).
We've traveled together all over the place - visited Russia, trained it through Europe, as well as doing more standard beach holidays in sunny places. He's been away with school, this year to CERN - undoubtedly the best school trip ever.
The furthest he's ever been on his own is into town about ten miles away and now in June he's off to America - to San Francisco. He's going to Apple's WorldWide Developer's Conference, after winning a 'scholarship' in a competition where he had to submit an app he made.
He talked to me about it when he was thinking of entering, I encouraged him, because that's what mums are for - and now he's won and he's going and I'm feeling a whole lot proud and a little in shock. Not because I didn't expect him to win – he is a big Apple geek and has been making apps for years - and, though I'm biased I think he's great.
No, the shock is realising that he's going to be so far away, on his own, in a strange country, in a place where I don't know anyone who I can call on to look after him if he needs it. It was a gut wrenching, heart in mouth feeling booking the flight and hotel and realising I'm not going to be there to check tickets, times, gates, getting to the hotel at the other end. I'm not going to be at the hotel with him, checking out facilities, the area, deciding how to get around and where to go. And I'm not going to be with him at the end of the day to choose where to go for dinner, talk over the day's events and what's going on tomorrow. He's on his own.
This is a huge step - it's a fabulous opportunity for him, to go and be in the environment he wants to make his career in, meet techies and companies from all over the world, have a week of workshops and training and learning all sorts. All I can do is believe that he is mature and sensible enough to look after himself, that he is sociable and intelligent enough to talk to people and make friends when he's there, that he will make the most of every single moment of this opportunity, and that I have done enough to be able to wave him off into this big step into his next phase of life and independence. Then all I can do is be thankful for Apple and their gadgets and get ready to face time him!