Monday 24 October 2016

Becoming adults

A couple of years a go I wrote about our adult children that stayed in the UK when we moved to South Africa with the 2 youngest children.

Not a lot has changed in their lives to be honest, well nothing major or life changing anyway, they're still happy, there have been trips here, we visit there.

Now our youngest 2 children have left home. Child 4 of 5 was with us until he was almost 20, he is now 21 and has been in the army based near Belfast for just over the past year. Peter hasn't seen him since September 2015, I saw him briefly in July when he drove over from Northern Ireland to London  for a few days. We'll next see him this Christmas when he is reunited with #BobTheDog after his last visit here in June 2015.

So far he's travelled to The Falklands and next year sees him visit Kenya, USA and Belize. He then has his first over seas posting, the middle of next year. Something as parents we are not pleased about, especially when he said where he was going.

The youngest is till in school, he will be 18 in April 2017. He's in the middle of writing his application for his CISCO apprenticeship, which is is well on track for.

He visits us 3 times a year, we visit the UK once a year, we talk randomly on Facebook, I send post cards and am constantly topping up his school account.

His friend died last month, he informed us he was to be a pall bearer at the funeral, we were understandably upset for him and his friends and for the fact that we couldn't be there to support him. We were also upset that his boarding school didn't feel the need to tell us this information. We knew his friend had died, we knew when the funeral was to be held, but we didn't know our son's role in it, in fact we realised we knew very little about our son's life in school from anyone else other than him.

We found out this week, our son has joined a cycling club. Those of you who know him will be in shock to hear this, our son does NOT do sport, not even watching it on the telly. Our son is a prefect. Our son works as a TA a few hours a week supporting younger students on the CISCO project.

We've seen our youngest develop and mature over the past year, he is a pleasure to spend time with, Peter and him will talk for hours about 'nothing' leaving me feeling excluded from time to time. They want to go places together, share a netflix account, talk gadgets, technology and generally take the mick out of mum, in a harmless way. We go shopping together for clothes for school, suit measurements, shoe shopping, he is reasonable with what he wants and has a budget in mind which we agree to before we go out to shop. We have coffee and cake together at the local starbucks. he is fun to with. They all are.

Our youngest son though has a second family, his school, his friends, other adults who guide him into adulthood. He spends his exeat weekends with a friend and his parents, he has other aspects of his life that we are not privy to, we don't even know these people, let alone never met them.

I received an email from the head master at his school on Monday night after the funeral. My son and I chatted on Facebook after the event, he couldn't face a phone call, he was too emotional.

This sums my son up and I am very proud of him, proud of his next steps and adventures. We're proud of them all.

'I was so proud of Alex today, he carried John's coffin in and out of the Abbey today. He walked tall and you would have been so proud of him. The piper played, a fitting service for such a lovely kind gentle student. John will be missed by all, a service of celebration of his life.
Well done Alex.'

We've missed out quite a lot as our children have turned into adults, gained their independence, although we don't think we could have given them a better start in life, we know we aren't ready to stop parenting them yet. They don't need discipline, organising, lifts to be given, they need to know we are there to provide them with guidance as they move into the next stage in their lives, that we are there to help them out when times get difficult, with what we can, whether it's helping write a CV, giving them advice when asked for on relationships, career paths, finances.

I don't know if we're getting it right or not, I worry about the difficult times they may face, they are not close in location to one another or to us, but they do have other family members who can step in, pick them up from train stations, airports, help them physically move.

I worry that we may interfere, that our guidance may be unwanted, I worry that they may accuse us in the future of being selfish by living abroad, that we were never there for them, that we missed events that were important to them, that they needed or wanted us there for.

But I guess I'd probably be worrying about all the above if we lived round the corner, that we were interfering regardless.

I suppose I will never know if we got it right or not until the day comes when they tell us.

All I know right now is we have a healthy and happy relationship with them all as adults, just as it is. We're 'friends' on all social media channels, they reply to messages, they remember our birthdays, they randomly contact us for no particular reason other than to say hi, they come to ask for help, advice and guidance, each in their own way and time scale. they choose to spend their own money on coming to visit us for their holidays, whether it's been to South Africa, Dubai or when we're in the UK.

But more importantly they pick up the slack when we're not around to help one another, whether it's because we can't be there or whether it's because we've asked them to.

We are very proud of our children, their achievements and their successes and I'm sure as the years go by, there will be issues raised, but we'll just have to deal with them when they come along.

For now and the immediate future, we'll carry on enjoying our distant relationship with our children and hope it stays the same when we do move back to the UK and be more actively involved in each others lives.

1 comment:

  1. This post makes me happy but also sad! The sacrifices we make. I'm glad Alex is thriving. Though I know as parents it is difficult not playing as much a part as society dictates.