One of the chicks is getting ready to fly. You could say he’s taxiing to the runway, all cleared for take-off. In fact, if you’re quiet you can probably hear that the nearest emergency exit is behind you.
Boy One is off soon and there’s much flurrying.
Since last century (or some other time, ages ago) the Next Stage has been a mythical land where other people’s kids went then, all of a sudden on a Tuesday last week, you’re planning emergency weekend visits to Ikea and trying to remember all the things you vowed you’d teach your child to equip them for the big bad world.
Life skills. Yes, them. Boy One appears to be able to feed himself, operate a computer, telephone and, occasionally, an iron. But is it enough? It’s like I’ve given him the keys, told him how to get into fifth and where the motorway is, but somehow overlooked the brake, indicator and mirrors bit of the lesson.
Poor lad is looking a bit bewildered now as I’ve taken to bounding into his room and asking things like “you do know how to change a plug, don’t you?”, “what is your strategy for budgeting?” and “make sure the chicken is properly cooked, won’t you?”. An odd atmosphere pervades. He, while making another list of the things he needs to pack (there are a great many lists on the go at the moment), said: “Mum, you don’t want me to take everything with me do you?”
The right answer to this was, apparently: “Of course you can come back. This is always your home.”
On the up side, they no longer fill student kitchens with kitchen stuff. After grumbling about it for a while, the penny dropped and I realised the beauty of this evolution. I have the perfect, guilt-free way of emptying my cupboards of all the tired old crap. And, besides, if it’s familiar (with its chips and flaws) then it’ll be comforting, won’t it?
Plus if I find I’ve given him what the Panther of News rather mystifyingly calls “the only frying pan that actually works” then I’ll have to buy a replacement!
I could bang on about how proud I am and what a fine young man, etc etc. But I’d be in serious danger of embarrassing us both, so I won’t. Instead, I’ll have to take comfort in the fact that fetching and using the stool to reach high places is far better exercise than texting your eldest – and tallest – child to come and get something down for you.