"Do you have your phone? Do you have your money? Do you have your passport?" My nervous and sad wife peppered our daughter with questions too rapidly to allow an audible response, but our 16-year-old was nodding the whole time. She was ready, but scared too. She had her money in her pockets her passport and boarding pass in one hand and her brand new Nokia phone in the other.

It was 5:45 in the morning and she was heading to Germany for a three week German immersion program, one that will allow her to practice her German as well as getting a taste of Germany and its culture in 2011. My wife and I were both excited for her, but also tense at the prospects of her traveling without us, with people we didn't really know, to stay with a family we had never met.

It was very stressful for both of us as parents and for our daughter.

We anticipated the stress and for that reason we wanted her to have a new phone so that we could be sure she could contact us if she had any need to. Nokia is a trusted name in cell phones. We have had many in our house since I bought my first one in the mid 90s. We never had any serious issues with them - until yesterday.

Just as the stress and tension of the day were easing away - she'd arrived safely; she was getting to know and like her German host family - she called home from the family's phone in floods of tears: the new cell phone was broken.

And it was too. She was typing out a text to her mother when it switched itself off and she couldn't get it back on. Panic, upset, fear, a sudden realization as to how far away she was combined with her exhaustion - she had to get up at 3:45 - meant she had gone from stressed to distressed. My wife was distressed too - her 'baby' was crying and far away.

I was on the train home when my phone rang. My distressed wife relayed to me how upset our daughter was. Fortunately, being conservative and cautious has its pluses. "Yes the broken new phone is a real annoyance, but she has the old one too." I had insisted that my daughter take a back-up phone, a 7-year-old brick that has twice been called out of retirement - a totally reliable Nokia.

When she had the old phone out and working all was fine again. She was at ease and I was too. As for my wife, well, I don't think she'll be at ease until she has her baby back again.