13 Years ago this week I dressed my then four-year-old in his little school shorts, put on his new school top and fleece and walked him to his first day at school. As I choked back the tears I waved him off as he joined the line of children about to embark on life’s school journey. I can still remember it with absolute clarity. He seemed so vulnerable going off to join the big wide world and didn’t seem ready, but he took it totally in his stride which he has done his entire life.
Somewhere between all the parents evenings, school reports, nativity plays, permission slips, sewing in name tags, packed lunches, grazed knees and eternal late night ‘is my games kit ready for tomorrow’ questions I find myself facing the fact that he’s in his final year and thinking about moving on, going into the big wide world again. I know from experience that this year will hurtle by faster than I can mainline a Dairy Milk at the end of a stressful day, so I decided to begin the leaving home training.
For many years I’ve regularly drip fed my children the ‘don’t ever take out a pay day loan’ advice, along with other regular ‘mom always says’ points about making good choices and not following the crumbs to the gingerbread house. But this training was more basic, a few survival recipes and how to use the washing machine was a good place to start. I’ve mentioned a few times that it was high time he started doing his own washing but this time I made a point of standing him in front of the machine and identifying what the big white thing with the circle on the front was.
‘The clothes go in here with a bit of washing powder, the water swishes round then you take them out and hang them up’
I won’t lie, I didn’t think he would actually implement the extensive training but I was delighted to see he not only did his washing but hung it all up. It was a monumental moment, I nearly cried!
There’s something else he’s managed to achieve without any training at all though, and that’s noticing things. This may not be a big deal in your world but it’s a big deal in mine, and recently, in one week, he noticed three things. My dear husband Orkney Beef has many qualities, but noticing changes in my appearance is not one of them. Firstly, I recently had quite a drastic haircut. I’m now a regular morning swimmer (see The Struggle of a Wannabe Mermaid ) which meant for convenience the hair had to go. So I went from pretty long to pretty short. Orkney Beef didn’t notice, or if he did, he didn’t comment until I asked him specifically. I was then told that yes, of course, he’d noticed but I was clearly, fishing for compliments! Tech Support (my son) however said ‘nice hair mum’ as soon as he clapped eyes on me.
Secondly, I bought myself a dress. No great shakes in the grand scheme of things but it takes a LOT to get me in a dress, However, I love a good charity shop rummage and I found a really nice one. If it didn’t work out between us and I bottled it then it was only a couple of quid down the drain. So I bought the dress, got my brave on, and wore it. I was surprised at the number of comments I received from colleagues at work. Orkney Beef didn’t notice, while Tech Support took one look at me and said ‘nice dress mum!’
Lastly, I had another gorgeous charity shop find. It was a beautiful pink wool jacket with black buttons. It still had the new label on and the buttons were still wrapped. It had never been worn and I absolutely loved it, so I bought it. I must admit it was a little different from my usual coat choice but I didn’t care. I felt wonderful in it and that’s all that mattered. This time both the men in my life noticed. But their comments were poles apart. Orkney Beef took one look and said ‘what on earth are you wearing now?’ while Tech Support got in the car and said ‘nice coat mum’ as soon as he saw me. That boy will go far, but I think I’ve been training the wrong person. The one that needs the work on is perhaps the one that’s not fleeing the nest. 😉