Living on the toastline
My eldest son, Sam, is clearly thrilled to have been offered a place at his first choice university.
Why wouldn't he be? He's been working towards his ambition of studying film and media production for the past three years or more.
But as freshers week approaches, there's a hint of panic in the air. . . for both of us.
Suddenly, I find myself asking the sort of questions I ought to have been asking two years ago - such as, is he really up to it?
Is he cut out for academia, or would he have been much better off getting a trade under his belt. Apparently more than 100,000 students drop out of university after their first year - and almost one in four fail to complete their courses.
Will my son be a quitter - a drop out with no degree to his name but nevertheless deep in debt - when he could have been earning a decent wage or gaining an appreticeship that would serve him for life?
I dare not mention my reservations to Sam, who is panicking about his impending departure from the nest for very different reasons.
His concerns are far more fundamental. Just the other day, he was frantically running through a seemingly endless list of potential problems. . . will there be a washing machine? Is there such a thing as a student cookbook? Will there be space for his bicycle? Does he need a lockable box for his personal stuff? Will his room mates be offended if he has a lockable box for his personal stuff? And then - in the midst of this tirade of questions we couldn't answer with any certainty - he suddenly turned white with fear. "Ohmigod! - what if there isn't a toaster!" he cried, in all seriousness.
It was at that precise moment that my wife and I went from being supportive to being in hysterics. A life without toast? What insufferable hardship!