A week ago, I took Boy One to his place of education – car laden with lots of things I was quite happy to see the back of and lots of other stuff that it had somehow come essential for me to buy.
A big step for us both. Not least because his Asperger’s has, particularly at the start, had us wondering if he’d ever cope in the big bad world.
But there we were, heading up the motorway onwards and upwards.
Here’s what I learned:
The cutting of the apron strings is a gradual affair. (Not, of course, that I’m an apron-wearing kind of mother. I once had one but it really annoyed me so I threw it out.) Remember how you’d stick close to a reluctant toddler until they worked out that they could indeed manage and might even have more fun without mum to hand. Same deal this time. We went from ‘what are your plans?’ (Subtext: don’t go yet) to ‘Thanks mum, Bye’, (Subtext: Go now – quick as you like.)
There’s another parenty phenomena needing a word. Remember when they went off to primary school and you spent all day with everything crossed worrying about them? Finally, you collect them at the school gates bursting to find out How It Went. “Fine.” Is all you get. Maybe a “good”. So you fall back on the old favourite: “What did you have for lunch?” And it’s the only thing you’ll ever learn at that point about their day, except the fact that they are their own people and not all of their lives are your business. (We could call it the LunchQuestionPhenomena – LQP for short)
Same LQP with a nest-flying teenager. I am quite used to the idea that there was much in my son’s life that I don’t know about and don’t want to know about. However, the last few weeks we’d got closer. Probably as much to do with a lack of school routine and the need to get me to pay for things as a desire for maternal bonding.
I’d been lulled into thinking I’d get an insight into his new adventures, to share in his joys etc etc. Big mistake. Before I drove home I texted, something soppy and uplifting likely. No instant reply.
No reply at the traffic lights.
No reply at home.
No reply that evening.
So I text: “how’s it going?”
And that’s it. For days.
Sometimes stalking seems reasonable. With no information to go on and lots of questions unanswered, I resort to social media.
Facebook – he’s got eight new facebook friends. So that must be good.
Twitter – nothing, but then he only usually goes there to be rude to me.
Snapchat – yes. The maps. A stalky parent’s best friend. So now I worry if he’s gone out and I worry if he’s staying in.
Worry is the work of a mother. Probably a father too, but I’m not one of them, so I can’t say. You start worrying about hitting virtual milestones and move to worrying about hitting actual things (stones among them), then you worry about attainment, socialisation, calamity miscellaneous and specific, culminating in worrying about exam results. Thing is, now the scope of things to worry about – and the chance to do anything about it – is so much bigger.
I have nothing wise to offer on the subjects of children leaving home, except perhaps gratitude for my mother’s patience at long rambling phone calls when communication does, finally, happen.