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ChangingMinds Blog! > Blog Archive > 15-Jun-07


Friday 15-June-07

Whittington days

Dick Whittington famously went to London with the hope that the streets would be paved with gold. They weren't of course, but he still make it to Mayor. At some point in our lives we all have our Whittington days, when we set out from home, often with unrealistic expectations that the world will somehow fall in our laps. Reality  then bites, of course, sometimes rather hard, and the real test is how we face the slings and arrows that the world throws at us.

My son, after leaving school, is now leaving home, going off to London to stay with a friend and hopefully make his way in the world. Of course we are worried about him and suspect he will do foolish things that we will unlikely ever hear about, but we do hope he navigates the waters of young exploration and finds safe passage to a fruitful career.

The first stage of setting out is with optimism and hope. New things are fresh and interesting and there is excitement in the air. However, this honeymoon period does not last as hoped-for luck does not happen and we may fall on depressingly hard times. We may rant and rail against these but we may also have time to think and realize at last that our live are up to us. We can lie in the gutter and we can pick ourselves up and shoot for the stars.

My son's problem has never been intellect - he got 14 GCSEs (exams taken at age 16 in the UK) without really trying. What I hope he finds now is motivation beyond hanging out and hedonism. There are no guarantees, I know, but he's got head, hands and heart and I hope he uses them all.

As parents it's easy to mourn the leaving of a child, especially when you know the risks they may face, but we cannot dwell on this. Letting go is tough but necessary and ultimately, I believe, the best strategy all around. We will not phone and nag and tell him how to run his life. If he is to return from time to time then it must be because he enjoys our company. It's no longer a simple parent-child thing but is largely adult-adult. We will provide the safety net of haven if things go wrong, but do so on the expectation of adult behaviour - the petulance of the past must stay there.

My daughter also is finding her way. She's been doing project management for a large event and finding the pleasure of exercising a skill - and organising is something she does very well. She's also got a couple of interviews coming up for more permanent work and I have my fingers tightly crossed.

And so we move into the empty-nest demographic to which I have been looking forward in many ways. Bringing up children is interesting and their paths are seldom straight, and it's nice to sit down without wondering what parental activity will be needed next. Of course we still love them and enjoy their company, but the adult interaction is just more civilized and undemanding. I've almost forgotten how, but it will be nice just to get home and relax.

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