WATCHING THEM WALK AWAY-A story for all the mums and dads
I remember as a young girl, the beginning of a new school year was like Christmas. Living in a rural area meant I didn’t see a lot of my friends over the school holidays and the thought of catching up with everyone was a source of positive energy, a feeling of rejuvenation.
The journey to school just prior to the commencement of first term was a memory I’ll never forget. New books, new pencil case, new uniforms, and a chance to sneak a peak of anyone I knew. Who were the new teachers and what were they going to be like? Were there any new kids in my class? Where was my best friend hiding? Had my feet grown?
When I returned home I’d busily arrange my books, writing my name neatly everywhere I could. I’d set up my Student Diary with all of my personal information writing a new year level inside the front cover, and I’d scribble a few of my best friends names and addresses exactly where they were supposed to go in the allocated addresses section. I’d then cover my text books with clear contact, trying desperately not to make bubbles, and place them all together in a nice even line inside my cupboard in my bedroom. I was so ready.
Looking back, it was truly great. It is an excitement that perhaps I haven’t been able to match as an adult. The complexities of life stifling my ability to live in awe and wonder-as a child does.
And as I observe my own boys heading off to commence a new schooling year, I am reminded of this feeling once again, and I ponder-
I ponder the magic of witnessing their innocent souls bursting to participate in all things new and exciting-as I did.
And my mind drifts… and I ponder how they will handle the rejection.
I ponder how they will deal with failure.
I ponder whether I am doing a good enough job to ensure they prosper.
I ponder whether they will still love me in 10 years and whether they will work hard enough to realise their potential.
I hope an amazing career spontaneously chooses them and not the other way around.
I hope they draw on sound judgement in times of trouble.
I dig into the deepest depths of me with my hand on the steering wheel still watching them skedaddle away, and pray they are happy.
And I find myself concerned- because I know. I know what it’s like to pass from innocence and fun to aware and responsible.
But then it suddenly occurs to me that I am simply balancing on the opposite side of my circle-My circle of life. The wheel has turned, and I am staring back at myself- and not my sons.
They are kind of smiling, they are barely excited, and they couldn’t give two hoots about their books, their uniforms or their lack of haircuts. They’re not fussed about the English teacher, they are wondering why they couldn’t have six months a year off, and not a single item of food will be consumed in their lunch box. The diary is a diary in name only and they’ve been playing on-line computer games with their friends for the entire duration of the holiday. They are messy, disorganised and they prefer grunt to English- But they are as happy that way as pigs in mud.
The miracle and truth that I so often forget, is that they are living in their own circle-and not mine.
Sure, we can worry about anything and everything that may happen to them, but their experiences will always be unique.
They will go their own way, they will do what they do and they will be who they are regardless of their mother sitting in the car pondering their existence and happiness. Regardless of our desire to steer them toward or away from our own experiences. Regardless of our warnings, our teachings, our back lashings or our perceived failures as parents.
So what do we do?
We keep doing what we are doing because it’s ok;
…and we watch them walk away with their school bags on, and ponder their growth and their happiness and their futures, and we sit back and have a cup of tea with a smile, when one day, they find themselves balancing on the other side of their circle of life, and they ponder how they got there.