A new chapter…

A new chapter has begun in the Robertson household. It’s exciting, scary and sad all at the same time. Aonghas turned 18 last October, he passed NCEA Level 3 and has finished school. He is still at home, working as an out of school care assistant (OSCAR) for the YMCA after school hours, coaching his old secondary school 2nd XI hockey team and mostly, for the rest of the time, playing computer games.  Transition is a hard time. Frustrating, confusing, unsettled.  Well, it is for the parents, anyway. Not sure Aonghas is bothered! Lachlan is in his final year of university (hopefully), he is between houses so he is back at home. Living in my office, so I have decamped to the living room. The house and garage is full of ‘stuff’.  They are good kids, they will get there, wherever ‘there’ is, sometime.

Family of two sons, parents and aunty in a restaurant.
All ‘growed up’

Why is it exciting? Well, we are ‘free’ of being a taxi service now that driving licenses have been acquired, although our cars are still required … not sure how that happened! So we can get away for weekends, no need to ferry boys to sports matches, no need to stand freezing on the sidelines. We can plan our weekends around ourselves and our own needs. Our boys have exciting adventures ahead of them, when they work out what they are, that is. They have new life experiences to look forward to.

Why is it scary? So much unknown territory. We have been ‘four’ then ‘three’, now we are ‘two’ again. Time to rediscover ourselves, each other. Can we find ourselves again after years of our focus being on two boys and not ourselves? Scary too, that we don’t know where the boys are. How do we keep them safe? How did we ever keep them safe? Are they spending too much time on computer games? Are they drinking too much? Are they taking drugs? Are they driving too fast? Are they doing stupid stuff? Where do they go when they answer the question, “What did you do with your mates?’ with “Oh, just hanging out, doing stuff.’ ? Hell’s teeth – what is ‘stuff’? and where were you hanging out?

Now I know what/how my parents felt.

Why is it sad? There is a hole. A hole which was once filled with hugs and cuddles, and new experiences that were shared and enjoyed together, and conversations, and worry about friends and school, and laughter, and I am unsure that it can be filled again. I miss my boys. I miss the spontaneity that seems to have gone now they are older. There is a hole where there were football matches and hockey games and mountain biking and lawn bowls and squash.  And binge watching of Star Wars and Harry Potter. Oh, I know it filled our weekends, but now it’s not there, I miss it. I miss standing on the sideline cheering them on, chatting to other parents, being an embarrassing parent – “Mum, do you have to shout so loud!?” I miss watching ‘George of the Jungle’ for the umpteenth time. I miss the noise, I miss the excruciating pain of standing on the lego brick in barefeet, I miss the lego creations and the battlefields of monsters, soldiers, and strange creatures arranged across the living room.  I miss the bedtime reads, the treasure hunts,  the looking after, and  … well, I miss being ‘needed’.

I am not ‘needed’ anymore.

My boys are ‘all growed up’.  They are pretty much independent. So I am not needed, at least not in the way that I have been ‘needed’ for the last 23 years.

So, we have found a way to fill the hole.

white camper van parked by the beach. Sun is setting, sky is pinky orange in the background.
First evening in ‘Vera’. Kaikoura.

We have bought a camper van so we can escape whenever we feel like it. There are so many places to explore that we haven’t been to yet.  More time to rediscover who we are, in new places.

It’s only a wee thing, and it’s pretty old and battered. But it’s ours. She is ours. Vera is ours. Okay, the name is not fixed yet and Nigel isn’t convinced but I’m working on it! She came with a free panda – Pete the Panda. (Name courtesy of William!)  I bought her when I was in Christchurch for work and then parked her at a friend’s house for a few weeks until we could fly down and pick her up.  That was our first camper van adventure.





All growed up…

Boys in ocean with mountain in backgroundOver the last few weeks we have been gearing up to losing our first born to the big wide world. D Day is almost upon us and I fear I have not really got my head around the idea that tomorrow we will be at Auckland airport waving Lachlan goodbye. People keep saying to me how hard it is and how I must be feeling empty at the thought of him going.  I am feeling a little bewildered that I am not feeling those things!  Maybe I have just been so busy to have time to think, or maybe I have not been allowing myself to think as a self-preservation/defence mechanism?  Maybe it will hit me like a great big slam-dunk tomorrow when the actual parting happens, or a week or two down the track when the hole he leaves becomes more apparent?  (will I miss the trail of detritus he leaves in his wake…the wet towels in the bathroom, the kitchen cupboard doors left open following a hungry boy’s search for food, the lights left on at night, the empty beer bottles and coke cans, the chocolate wrappers and the week old mouldy cups of half drunk tea in his bedroom?!)

I will miss his sense of humour, the small gestures of care and love that an embarassed 18 yr old tries to hide,(like when he bought me a little elephant back from a trip to Raglan with his mates) the snatched moments of real conversation and closeness that sadly haven’t happened as much as any of us would like given the demands of work, study and sporting commitments, and Kate, his girlfriend!  I seem to remember at a similar age preferring to spend time with the love of my life rather then with my parents!  But, I ask you, who at that age wouldn’t?  two people sitting on the end of the wharf

We have just had a lovely evening all together along with Kate out at Raglan.  A splash in the ocean – once he decided it wasn’t too “uncool” to let himself go and have a swim, followed by fish and chips at the wharf.  The slightly incongruous bonus of a live band at a fish and chip shop added to the experience.

We think that he is ready to break out of the coccoon of home and it is time for him to find his place in the world?  I think, I know, that he is perfectly capable of fending for himself.  Yes, he is young, only eighteen, but he can cook, wash his clothes, he knows his way around airports, bus stations, booking into hostels and he communicates well with people (other than his parents who are the recipients of grunts and mumbles!). He is also fairly sensible on the whole given his age and experience and has a healthy respect for danger; he has an open outlook on life and is up for a challenge.  

We do worry about outside influences that may lead him into doing stuff that may be risky or dangerous, we worry that in a desire to fit in he might do something against his better judgement, we worry that without the structure of home he may fall prey to a lifestyle that is not “good”.  However, we also know that we have to let him go and find out all those things for himself.  

We have never (I hope) been over-protective parents; we have provided opportunities for risk-taking, challenge, exploration, opportunities for our boys to test themselves, their skills and their courage.  But we have always been close at hand to catch them when /if they fall.  Canada is a long way away – who will be there to catch my baby if he falls?  But he won’t. We have faith in him, in his capability to look after himself, to do what is right for him.

Our baby is ready to fly the nest. He is all growed up.