Thursday, October 25, 2007


Today I was at the optician with my 16 year old son, j. He was 16 in September, which makes him one of the oldest in his year at school and still has the whole of this academic year to do in Year 11.

We've been going to medical appointments for most of his life - it's thought that some 'trauma related to his birth' (described by the hospital as 'normal', incidentally) has caused him some problems. These don't impact him in enormous ways but they're there nontheless.

Today I had to face the fact that he isn't a child any more. My role was to sit in the waiting room until it was time to pay for his contact lenses and glasses. I didn't need to sign for any of his examinations, didn't need to give any information and had to wait for him to tell me what the opthalmologist said. I know I have something of a reputation in our house for being 'involved', but it's hard to sit back and be on the fringes. 16 seems so young.

During the summer I had a very upsetting time when he told me he had obtained details and costings of courses, accomodation and travel for a University in...wait for it...Tokyo. All without discussing it with me or J. He wasn't being hurtful - just didn't see how it affected us. How it affected us???!!! How it affected me, was that I went through a couple of weeks of real grieving at the thought of him moving that far away. Daft I know - he isn't going anywhere for at least another two and a half years.

Then he did it again last week. Filled in an application for two colleges - to do A levels - without discussion with us. Then didn't see why I was surprised...

Possibly I should celebrate the fact that he's so independent and confident. There is a precedent for this in the family. J celebrated his 16th birthday in Mexico after having joined the merchant navy at 15. It just doesn't seem 'right' to me. I'm sure it's more about me than j though.

What was I like at 16?

I was a goody goody. A bit of a swat. I did what my parents said. But I led a secret life in my head. Later I cut loose a little. Between 16 and 18 I did all sorts of things I wouldn't want my parents to know about.

Did I consult them about colleges? I'm not sure. I can't remember. What I do know is that 16 didn't seem young at all then.

Maybe I do just need to chill out and trust him.


Cindy said...

Having a 17 & 18 year old I can relate to your feelings. Sometimes they act so young and others they are very grown up. Amazing how fast this happens, them growing up, I'm not old enough to have a couple of young adults!

Rowena Hopkirk said...

I know it must be hard to see him becoming so independent, but truly, count your blessings. I felt like I was moving heaven and earth to try to get my two to take some sense of Ownership of their lives! So many kids now are afraid to leave home, afraid they won't be successful, or even be ok. You must have given yours a sense that he can trust life and himself a little!

rho said...

Oh I imagine it is so hard to have your son grow up while you stay the same as always.

16 does seem so young to us-but like you said when we were 16 it didn't seem young at all - I bet you investigated schools and did all kinds of things and just informed your parents - maybe you were a little more subtle about it or diplomatic about it though - but that probably is more of a difference between male and female lol I think at 16 I was pretty good at getting people to think that my ideas were their ideas all along -- wonder where I lost that ability ;)

Diane in Chico, CA said...

"Maybe I do just need to chill out and trust him."

Good luck with that :-)

Barbara-Kay said...

Congratulations on raising such a competent child!

Oh, and what is a "swat", besides being an English term? Inquiring minds want to know! VBG!

lazylol said...

I have a almost 17 year old doing A levels and a 19 year old working. I know how you feel and I too hate the thought of them leaving home. You should be proud of your son's independence though. It is great that he is looking at the different options available to him. If he is anything like my son, he will change his mind about 10 times during year 11. My son started the year wanting to be a chef, then he wanted to go in the army, do an apprenticeship and he enrolled to do building studies at college. It wasn't until his results came in at the end of August and he'd done better than expected that he decided to do A levels. We then had a mad dash around finding him a place! He is loving it though. If they are happy then we are happy I suppose.

Janet MF said...

Wow! We spend our lives hoping to raise independent minded children, and you seem to have a very focussed son. It is sad when they plan for the great unknown and release is hard, a bit like the end of breastfeeding and their first day of school. Our third son (my only birth son out of 6 children) had a processing disorder (most likely due to Rh. neg and lack of oxygen at birth) - didn't even start learning/working at school until he was in Grade 6 (11 years). He's the only one so far to complete 4 years university (4 days drive away or a whole days flying) with double honours in history and international development. He now earns more than his older 2 brothers and has just bought his first house at 24! He still has problems processing. Take heart - they all surprise us and they do come home; sometimes for longer periods than is confortable. Enjoy the years you have before he leaves for uni and maybe read "The places you'll go" by Dr.Seuss.
Incidentally our oldest daughter through adoption is going to school in England this year, at her request. She's just 17 and has only joined our family within the last 3 years. This was an extremely difficult parting for us(especially her younger siblings), but so far she is enjoying her time in Suffolk with my sister, and getting used to all the homework. We still expect the "Can I come home?" phone call and she knows she can come back to Canada any time. We all miss her so very much.

Janet MF up in snowy and cold Yellowknife