Admittedly, I have not been using iPad 2 very long myself. But when you dock your iPad with a computer apple or pc, it should give you the option to save any applications before you sync. When your son set it up he would have probably save what apps were on there
The system of syncing does have it's draw backs. It may appear that you have lost your e-mail, but hopefully only on that devices and copies are kept on your e-mail's server, so once you get iPAD to link into your server again, you should be able retrieve your missing mail.
Setting up e-mail accounts on tablets, desktops, and smartphones can be a sensitive process. If you accidently type in the wrong letter or number the e-mail syncing process won't work.