Our teenage son, child 5, is privileged and entitled. He has benefited from a private education in a UK boarding school and on leaving school in July has moved into a one bed flat with all his bills being paid for by the bank of mum and dad, his current situation is unemployed. He is lucky, has no understanding of the real world and doesn't have anything to worry about, unlike other people's children who left school this year.
Sounds cushy, doesn't it? And those very words have been said to me on numerous occasions.
The reality is somewhat altogether different.
We live in Dubai, our son was educated in the UK, because at the time we were living in South Africa and there was no support for his dyslexia. There was no British Curriculum available to him until he was 16. Our older son, child 4, found out the hard way that whilst he finished Matric with qualifications to go to University in South Africa, that when his qualifications were converted back in the UK, at the age of 19, he had the equivalent of 5 GCSE's but does not hold English or Maths.
Sending our son back to the UK was not an easy decision. Both emotionally and financially. His teenage years have been spent in a bubble, no parent support, no freedom to get a part time job and no socialising in the evening in town with others, learning valuable lifeskill that his 3 older siblings had.
On leaving school in July 2017 having had applied for apprenticeships, we quickly discovered that the qualification he did at school enabled him to get straight into the world of work, however he had no work experience. All the apprenticeships in his area of interest and knowledge would just be teaching him the same course we'd paid for him to do during his last 2 years in school.
We didn't know this, we were led by the school, the promises they made for his future, but we weren't there to attend the parents evenings, ask the questions, meet the other parents and find out what the reality of all this was going to be.
I spent the summer in the UK, my job as a mum this year was to help him apply for jobs, take him to interviews, help him get a part time job to gain some experience and then get him settled into a place of his own. I was open an open ticket from Dubai and he was my only priority.
Then a week after I collected him from school, my father died and everything stopped.
The teen carried on applying for jobs, I ran him for a few interviews, but I didn't focus on him as I'd promised.
Now I'm back in Dubai, he has a few things lined up, a bit of part time work over the holidays. The only thing we're now paying for are the utility bills, water and electric. We have to pay the council tax, property management fees and insurances regardless of whether he's living there or not. We own the flat, no mortgage, it's our bolt hole when we visit the UK.
But it's in a small town in South Wales, with a population of 10,000 people, there is limited public transport, no train line and it is difficult for him to get anywhere for a 9am interview. He's applied online for all the local jobs, over 150 people applied for one at a coffee shop, he has no retail or work experience.
I'll be back in the UK in February, we'll do another online push together in Mid January to apply for jobs further afield so hopefully any interviews can take place while I'm over so he can attend them easily.
It's not just simply a case of finish school and walk into a job. An 18 year old still needs guidance and support to make the transition into the real world. Normally they get to do this from the safety net of home over a period of time. His brothers left home aged 18 and went into an apprenticeship and 2 joined the army, they do so from the family home, with guidance and support, with someone there to encourage them, help them fill forms and attend interviews. For us, it's very different this time round and will take a bit longer.
So I'd thank you to keep your comments in the opening paragraph to yourself, they're not helpful or even kind. We're doing what we're doing because he's our son and we have the ability to support him in this way. As a parent I'd rather have had him attend school locally, I'd rather be in the UK with him. But I'm not.
*update. Since I wrote this post over Christmas the teen has landed himself a job in the area of work he's interested in, it's a firm offer but he's waiting for security checks to come through before he gets a start date then we'll have to help him find somewhere to live.