Family check:- So much easier to keep an eye on things these days. As number 5 of 6 children, how my mother kept her empty nest symptoms under control without the aid of the internet I don’t know.
Eldest – No crisis – thankfully (me not her, as she would be off again tomorrow if possible) returned from travels around the world and happily working in central London.
Middle – Mini crisis but containable – just started new job as cabin crew out of Heathrow. New job nerves.
Youngest – just started first semester at University at the other end of the country. Probably having multi crisis daily.
Other Half – usual mini crisis – too much work – not enough time.
Me – major crisis – working out how a creature this small
Cannot successfully get its arse over a litter tray this big.
One week down and Youngest is still alive! Just.
I know this because:-
- He’s asked for more money.
- Eldest confirmed it and…
- When we did eventually Skype (apparently freshers’ week is just too busy to find 10 minutes) he was sneezing into a tissue.
Fresher’s flu is apparently all it’s cracked up to be.
‘Use the paracetamol I packed for you,’ I offered. ‘And the antiseptic throat spray.’
‘Oh,’ came the reply. ‘I found the paracetamol. Where’s the throat spray?’
Now it’s beyond me how he can open the Tupperware medicine box I lovingly supplied to retrieve pills without seeing the small green bottle nestling beside it. But then Youngest’s thought processes are one of life’s mysteries to me. Apart from some plasters, antiseptic cream and cold relief powder there weren’t many other ailments I thought he would get in the first few minutes except his signature sore throat so the box was half empty. (I purposefully left out supplying the condoms – there are some things a boy must be responsible for himself.)
I’m still amazed we got him to Uni. Not because I didn’t think he’d make the grades but having had Eldest and Middle super organised needing little assistance navigating their way through the Ucas process – (but then, I may be biased, but that’s girls for you) I dipped my toe into the Ucas water, just to see if Youngest would be ok. On touching the edge I was awash with confusion. Woah… So many forms, so much information. I couldn’t find a course entitled ‘How to navigate your way through Ucas’. I think this would be an excellent addition followed by a Masters in ‘Student Finance’. Hats off to those of you who made it though and out the other side. Knowing to leave Youngest to his own devices would mean his staying at home for the next four years, I had to plunge in. Some might call this helicoptering mothering, I call it self-preservation.
Thankfully Youngest knew what course he wanted to take. I despair for those parents whose offspring have no idea.
We made our choices.
His father and I took Youngest to one Uni.
His father drove him to another.
Was it unfair to insist he got himself to his third? The last weekend before he had to make his final decision? Even if it meant flying up north? Alone? If he’s ever going to be pushed out of the nest, a good way to start is to travel. Ok, I confess, he may have gone on his own but I did organise the journey for him – buy the tickets, print out city maps to plan how he would get from the airport to the Uni and supply my credit card ( for emergencies only, NOT a cheeky Nandos). I know, I’m weak and can hear you tutting and shaking your heads. But to my dying day I will still ask how much should I do? I know in my day we packed the car and took ourselves off without a backward glance but he’s my baby…
Anyway, even with the railways trying to thwart best laid plans by cancelling trains Youngest made it to Scotland and back with only an encounter with the Hare Krishnas to worry him. (Fair enough, he reasoned it was easier to give them a couple of pounds for their dodgy CD to get them to leave him alone than listen to them.)
So with firm and reserve choices of courses made, he then had to decide on accommodation. When I say he, you know I mean, I, had to prompt him before the deadline ran out. How difficult is it to choose 5? Well, it didn’t seem to matter as in the end he didn’t get any of his 5 wishes. After contacting the Uni he was offered 3 more, each had drawbacks.
But here he was. On the other side of the screen. Snotty, headachy and sniffing. Should I drop everything and rush to his side to nurse him? Get a grip woman, I could hear Eldest saying. He’ll be fine. He refused to show us his (untidy) room (nothing changed there then) and continued to lob tissues at the out-of-view waste paper basket while regaling how the offered food was either stodgy or watery and how he couldn’t abide Pot Noodles at the weekend like his flatmates. No worries I reply. You can make a wonderful roux sauce.