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.