This week, my eldest has gone off for the longest trip away from home that he has ever been on. It’s an eight day school trip, where he and 14 others will be looked after by two teachers from school.
I know that lots of mothers would worry about their child going away for such a long time. I know that the school will have organised the trip down to the last detail and I have complete faith in the teachers who are taking them. So I am confident that he will be well looked after and have a fantastic time.
That’s not the bit that’s worrying me!
The awful truth is, I’m finding it hard to ‘let him go’. He is growing up and will be going to secondary school next year. Both this school trip and his moving to the next stage at school, are enormous steps forward in his personal and social development. He still needs his mother, but not in the way that he used to.
I love his sense of humour and fun. I love the fact that being older, I can explain stories in the newspaper; share ‘slightly’ more adult jokes with him; and watch movies that aren’t just about Monsters or Superheroes!
There are lots of elements to seeing your child grow and develop that are positive. But I know that in a few years time, he won’t want to be around me. He will start sprouting one of those vile shadows of bum fluff on his top lip; hairs under his arms; develop an aversion to soap and water; and start getting bad skin.
I AM DREADING IT!
I feel like this stage is the bit where you’re just coming to the top of the hill. You can see the view, look back and admire what you’ve achieved in the ascent, but when you look forwards, all you can see is the rocky, slippery, downhill slope.
And it’s the fact that we are at this stage that makes this trip so beneficial. The week is very structured. The kids have to share all the jobs in the house. From setting the table, to washing and sorting the socks, with the exception of making the meals, all jobs have to be shared by the kids.
Earlier in the week, I decided that I too, would encourage independence. I figure it’s better to get this set in motion before the bolshie teenager emerges! I handed over the list of what had to be taken, and oversaw him do his own packing. He crossed things off the list as he put them into the bag and read through the notes about what he was and wasn’t allowed to take. He did it perfectly. I know it’s not that hard – but sometimes we do things automatically, instead of allowing our children to become self-sufficient.
Having finished the packing, I was given strict instructions not to phone every night. Apparently, one parent phoned her child three times each day, which caused him huge embarrassment. And now the entire school year is in terror of their parents phoning too much!
The following morning, I took him into school with his rucksack. He was so excited and talked non-stop in the car. But as he got out of the door he looked back. Looking very slightly anxious, he said:
“Bye Mum. Love you!” And before he finally walked into school, he came round to kiss me goodbye through the window. Wow! That must be the first time he’s kissed me in front of his school friends, for years!
As he walked off, I could see that already he has become a little man.