Saturday, 24 September 2011

On taking my Daughter to University

Having received some valuable feedback recently about my blogs, including the suggestion that perhaps I tend to over-think things and could say 'more with less', I am going to try a different approach with this blog and just try to riff with the thoughts and see how it comes out. I'd be very interested in your feedback about this approach.

So, yesterday, I took our first child, my daughter Natasha, to Nottingham, to move into her Halls of Residence as she starts her first year at University next week.  A significant moment in any child's - and parents' - life.  She's 19, having done a Foundation Diploma between her A Levels and starting University; and, whilst we are used to her being away for several days, indeed weeks sometimes, at a time, this is that big moment when she really starts to separate from us and starts her independent adult life.

Mandy and I are not the first parents to experience this separation anxiety, nor will we be the last.  Indeed, judging by the faces of many of the parents I saw leaving the complex yesterday, it's yet another heart-tugging part of the ever-developing role of parents everywhere.  So, here's what I want to reflect on in this blog - what I consder to have been, and continues to be, my greatest learning journey, being a Dad.

Like many parents nowadays, we were late starters, having our first child, Natasha when we were in our late thirties and our son Samuel (henceforth Tash and Sam) on Mandy's 40th Birthday!  I still treasure the obstetrician's description of Mandy as an "elederly prem", tho' I'm not sure she does.  We have been blessed with two beautiful children who are growing up, or in Tash's case, have grown up, into personable, articulate, emotionally intelligent and creative adults.  How did that happen?

Niall's first rule of parenthood - there are no rules!  It's the ultimate seat-of-your-pants, non-formal, on-demand, experiential learning opportunity.  Just as you've managed to reflect and re-apply what you've just learned, the goalposts move and off you go again.  What works for child 1 does not necessarily work for or apply to Child 2.  They are their own people, from day 1, and I learned that I had to go with the flow, adapt and flex, whilst we tried to maintain a safe, loving and nurturing environment (OK, Home) for them - and us - in which to grow.

So, one down, and one to go.  Sam has just started 6th Form College, as did Tash three years before him.  And guess what - it's a completely different experience for and with him than it was for Tash!  Good, but different.  So, we're flexing here!  Again!  Sam's still living with us while Tash is now living away, and we all have much to learn from each other before he sets off on his adult journey - I'm relishing the thought.

Many different books have been written about parenting.  There's probably a book just in Mandy's and my experience of being and learning to be parents.  But it's our story - a never-ending story - and we're too busy and engaged in living it to write it down and share it.  Except this blog, of course.

To conclude, I'll just quote you from the text message I sent Mandy as I left Tash to drive back to Brighton yesterday evening - "7:20 Just leaving now. Choked. Nx"

1 comment:

  1. I have another 15 yrs to go before I possibly go through a similar experience (gives me time to save I s'pose). Not sure the experience will be a little different with a boy than with a girl :-~