Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Apparently one day my kids will leave home

Apparently one day my kids will leave home
21 May 2014

I remember when Luke was little and he used to snuggle with me all of the time.  He’d wrap his little arms tight around my neck and squeeze the very breath out of me.  Telling me how much he loves me, and how he would live with me forever and never leave home.  He didn’t want a wife, nor kids – cause he already had his mom.  And she could make all of his best food already and knew exactly which were his favourite snacks.  She even played superheroes with him, could name all of the dinosaurs, and was really good at playing cricket in the garden.

And even though I was the adult and he was the child, and I should’ve known better, I admit that the idea held a huge amount of appeal.  I bought his story.

And to be fair, I was given fair warning that the winds of change were blowing.  As he got older and older, his story started changing.

And thus, I had to adjust my plans too.  Eventually I told him, that we would build a little flat onto our house, where he could stay.  He could visit every day and we could still be great friends.  Spending lots of time together.  And yes, I’d still make him his favourite – pancakes, Mommy Spaghetti, and peel his oranges. 

When I realised that this held little appeal, I changed my story too.  We’d buy the house next door, and put a little gate between our houses.  Or even better – a ladder over the fence so that we could simply hop over, whenever we felt like it.

But quite predictably those days are now long gone.  At sixteen he is practically chomping at the bit.  Rearing to leave home.

I never had the same instincts.  I was quite happy to carry on living at home, whilst I was studying.  In fact, I even lived at home when I was working.  A bit embarrassing and naff to admit now.  I vaguely remember contributing to household things.  Buying a microwave, etc.  But possibly I just bummed off my folks.  Mortified now at the thought.  I didn’t want to move in with Grant, and we were busy planning our wedding.  So change was afoot already.  Seemed a bit silly at the time to rush off into a temporary living arrangement of flat or shared digs, when I would be moving in with Grant after we were married in any rate.

And so perhaps I kind of expected Luke to maybe even study from home.  Stellenbosch University is in the town right next to ours.  And this is Luke’s first choice of tertiary institution.  As a student I commuted.  It made sense economically as accommodation in Stellenbosch is extremely pricy and very rare.  Varsity Res’ are super expensive too.  And so I guess I kind of thought that Luke would most likely commute too.  At least for his first year, while he settled in.  Even though I know it would make sense for him to fully emerge himself in varsity life and Stellenbosch once the time came.  Living close to campus would be awesome.  Still there was lots of time to think about these things – we had time on our side.

But is there really?  At sixteen, Luke is now nearly halfway through his Grade 10 year at school.  Grade 11 is his last full academic year, as Grade 12 is consumed with block days, mock exams and finals quite early on too.  I have been warned by many that matric really flies.  There’s valedictories, 40 days, Matric Farewell, as well as a hundred and one other little events, all commemorating their last year at school.

And this whole time-is-running-out-concept was really brought home the other day.  A friend and I, along with our sixteen year old teenagers were driving together.  We were chatting about how fast the kids were busy growing up (I could practically feel the rolling eye balls boring into my back from the back seat), how they’d soon be off studying, and reminiscing about how they were both four years old, just the other day.  And I said to my friend (very mockingly and tongue in cheek), “Luke can’t wait to leave home in two and a half years’ time”.

To which Luke piped up from the back, “A year and eight months”.

I practically swerved right off the road.  Are.  You.  Kidding.  Me???  He’s been counting?  And as for counting – how bad is his maths?  The kid still had two and a half years at school.  Pffft!

I gave a nervous little giggle and said, “What do you mean a year and eight months?  You only finish Matric in two and a half years’ time”.

To which he replied, “I turn eighteen in a year and eight months”.

Right, so that would be in the February of his Matric year.  Which scared the bejeebers out of me.  There is no way I would let a new eighteen year old loose on the world.  Moreover a freshly turned eighteen year old, most likely in possession of a driver’s licence (but not a car), without a Matric qualification.  As if he would study on his own!  Ha!  Double Ha!!!

But I could not just let it lie there.  Upon enquiry he informed me, that he would be old enough to move out of home when he was eighteen.  That him and a few friends could set up a place together and share. 

Perish the thought!  The kid that forgets to lock the gate after himself when he’s the last one in, wants to live on his own.  The one that doesn’t put the lid on the tomato sauce bottle.

I was informed that I would not be given the address (Please note that I am a perfectly normal and nice parent.  Actually I’m a nice person.  I am not a convicted felon, nor have I spent any time being incarcerated.  I don’t smoke, drink myself into a stupor, or galavant around with men half my age.  I have spent the past sixteen years of my life, dedicating my all to this child and trying my best to lead an exemplary life).

So, I’m thinking it’s probably time to let go of the whole flatlet idea.  And the neighbouring houses too.

Letting my kids grow up is hard.  Eventually letting them go, with a smile on my face, might kill me.

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  1. Look at Luke's face in the last pic....bwahhhh haaa haaa
    I don't think he is really going to be so happy when he leaves home!

    Very thrilled that you decided to stay so long, and wasn't it so very right with Daddy getting sick.

    On the bright side, thank what yo are going to do with his room.
    But you will probably have to get in line behind Amber and Cole!!

    Magnificentll written!

  2. Love your view on Life Helene! And yes, you are a fantastic mum to all your kids!