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.

 

 

 

 

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Long time, no see (or write)

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boys playing card game

 

I don’t like to look at the last date that I posted here, it seems to have been so long!  Work seems to have subsumed all of us and when it hasn’t been work that has been taking up our time, it has been other stuff!   Like getting eldest son back from Canada after he lost his UK passport with NZ Residency Permit in it!  Or getting youngest son to hockey, football or squash trainings or matches.  Writing exams, presentations, going to conferences, replacing dead dishwashers, taming wild gardens, entertaining guests, working ….Pink Magnolia blossom

So, eldest son is safely back in NZ, has job, is treating house like a hotel, and youngest has finished winter sport and is now busy with summer hockey and mountain biking.  I am busy with the “end of year, you must be winding down now that seniors are on study leave, manic time” when we play catch up with all the planning we don’t have time to do during the rest of the year whilst still trying to maintain “valid and meaningful” programmes with junior students who are not taking your subject next year so couldn’t give a s**t!

Oops!  I am being cynical!  Having to write reports for my form class after a week away at camp at a rate of two an hour is a daunting thought, so I am procrastinating!  Glass of red wine in hand, DS106 on the radio and a full belly are not a good recipe for report writing at 10.30pm so I have given up and will go back “refreshed” tomorrow morning. Young man wearing climbing helmet ready to support a group

 

So what of this year?  Well, Lachlan has been away for most of it in Canada working at Camp Jubilee in British Colombia.  He seems to have had a ball and has been offered a “proper job” there next year from March to October.  He just has to earn enough money to buy his airfare and pay for his life saving qualification which is a pre-requisite of them giving him a contract.  Fortunately, he has managed to get himself a job working in an outdoor clothing shop for the next couple of months.  He also has the possibility of some work with the outdoor providers that I use for my camps – Bigfootadventures – early next year.  For the last week he has “volunteered” on our school camp at Raglan and has made a pretty good account of himself so Bigfoot are keen to have him on board for next year.

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at a rugby match. Boy with flags

Aonghas is nearly at the end of his first year at secondary school.  He has done pretty well – prefers anything that doesn’t require writing – and considering that he has done very little study, he seems to have achieved in most of his subjects.  Think we may need to pin him down a bit next year!

How do you get boys who prefer to be doing sport (or computer games) sit down and study?  We didn’t get it right with Lachlan and we are struggling with Aonghas!  Both bright but no drive to achieve highly.  I guess they need to have some clear goal to aim for?  I worked hard because it was what was expected of me and out of sheer pigheadedness; my Dad made some off the cuff comment at some point about their being no point in girls studying and going to university because it would be a waste of money since all we would do would be to get married and have children!  My boys seem to have no real idea of what they want to do and with no goal there seems to be no impetus to achieve more than is necessary.

school group in kayaks

However, we have really good feed back about how well Lachlan worked in Canada, he has survived, and colleagues and friends compliment us on his demeanor and the way he interacts and communicates with other people.  It is heartening to be reassured that he has the qualities that we hoped we had encouraged him to develop – honesty, integrity, compassion, a sense of what is right and what is wrong, common sense, flexibility…..

So, what have we done this year?  Looking back at our photos we have managed to get out and about but not very far…

January – Top of the South – holiday in South Island, Wairarapa and then back to school

February – Back to school, My first MOOC, Karangahape Gorge

March – saying goodbye to Lachlan, Raglan, Blue Lake

April – Dickey Flat & Akwakatting

May – Spain

June – hockey, football

July – Fiji, hockey & football

August – mid-winter sports

September – tourist visiting out and about

October – not much! gardening,

November – gardening, Yr 10 Camp

Time to make some plans for Summer!  Head north or south?  Gus wants to go to Oz. Lachlan will be working.  Me and Nige just want to chill – anywhere!!

So many options…. will let you know.

Boy beneath trig point on top of hill.  Clear blue sky