09 July, 2014 / Parenting
My kids’ school just had a talk about university applications. It was all about this course and that course and all I could think was, How can this be? That my boys will soon be applying for college or uni and washing their own pants?
It only seems like last week that I was shepherding them home from the park, dripping and filthy and attracting those ‘Look at those poor, sodden children!’ type looks. I walked through the park yesterday for the first time in about eight years. It’s been completely gentrified with a renovated paddling pool and loads of shiny new play equipment. In our day there’d been a burnt-out climbing frame and a stinky little hut full of fag butts.
But actually, I’m enjoying the fact that they’re older. The whole uni/college thing is thrilling to me because I didn’t go. I left school at seventeen – the age my boys are now – and, thanks to my dad spotting a tiny recruitment ad in our local paper, applied for a job as a trainee journalist at DC Thomson in Dundee, publishers of Jackie magazine.
Is anything more thrilling than leaving home? I was desperate to get the hell out. Having applied for art school, and failed to gain a place due to being pretty crappy at drawing, I realised how lucky I was to get a job of any description, let alone one on the magazine I’d loved since I was thirteen. The next three years were spent writing about blusher and how to make ‘Dave’ notice you. I lived in a bedsit, then flatshares, surviving on toast and beer, mostly. It was like being a student, without the lectures – the average age in the Jackie office was about nineteen.
Jimmy and I gave our boys a taste of independent living recently, and left them home alone for a week. We’d asked them if they wanted to come on holiday with us (our daughter had been whisked off to Spain by her friend’s family) and they replied with a resounding ‘NO THANKS.’ Then they proceeded to organise a ‘gathering’. Yes, I was worried about returning home to be greeted by inebriated teenagers and scowling police. But, desperate for a break, we set off.
Friends moan about not being ‘needed’ any more, and feeling redundant, but these days I think, what are you on about? Who wants to be needed every minute of the day? I’ve had seventeen years of being on hand, attending to my offspring’s every needs, and my reserves of patience and dutifulness have all run out – peeling the top off a pot of Petit Filous would break me now. Anyway, Jimmy and I had a marvellous time, doing the stuff we love to do – chatting, eating, looking at art, quaffing a bottle of rose over a salad nicoise at lunchtime. And we came home to a tidy house and no evidence of excessive partying.
My chilli plants had been watered. There was milk in the fridge. One of my boys reported that he’d made a Caesar salad – yes, an actual salad, with leaves. ‘Next time,’ he said, ‘you might as well go away for two weeks.’