So it was son number two's birthday yesterday. It was quite odd, as coupled with the expected celebrations, there was an all pervading feeling of excitement (him) and sadness (me of course). It's odd feeling sad around his birthday, but with Saturday looming, I feel time is running out. I am asking myself whether I have prepared him for this new chapter in his life. Does he know how to use the washing machine, has he bought pens, where will his socks go? He said to me last night that although he expected me to worry about these things, I shouldn't, as to him, they are not important. Quite right really, but I still don't like the idea of his socks littering the carpet and him shrinking his best jumper on a boil wash.
So he was up at 6.00am, not wanting to miss seeing the husband before he left for work. Well, that's what he said. Naturally, as with all teenagers (even those up the higher end of the spectrum) I actually think he was more interested in opening his presents early, rather than having to wait till we were altogether again last night.
I have never known anyone who can be that cheerful at that time in the morning. His face was beaming, and as we snuggled up on our bed in our pyjamas and dressing gowns while he opened his cards and presents, I felt a little wistful. I was wondering whether this would be the last time we did this. I read somewhere a few months ago that you never know it's the last time you do something with your children until it's too late. Remembering this, I took a moment to enjoy his company and share his happiness. Knowing him as well as I do, I would imagine that he'll be back next year to do it all again, but as we know, nothing in life is guaranteed (except death and paying tax according to my father). But he is a human version of a homing pigeon, so unless he gets distracted somewhere round the M23 by food, I'm sure he'll be coming home at regular intervals.
ELL, his long time best friend-now-girlfriend drove up from her university to celebrate with him. I was relieved to see that she hadn't changed at all after one week as a student. This fills me with hope that son number two won't appear on his first visit home, not only with the obligatory dirty washing, but with dreadlocks and several tattoos courtesy of the Tattoo Parlour at the end of his road. Looking at the people hanging round there when we paid a visit last week, I would question whether any tattoo would be spelt right anyway.
Seeing the two of them together last night, it reminded me of something my dad said to me about thirty five years ago. He told me that he was really jealous as I had my whole life ahead of me. And that's what I see in these two. They are on the brink of something incredible as they start their university lives. It will be a time they'll remember, with some bits they'll be desperate to forget I expect (especially if son number two insists on wearing the BananaMan suit with Mrs S bought him).
I've seen all three of his siblings go, but never have I felt the cut of apron strings as strongly as I do with this one. I suppose that's because there was always at least one of them at home all the other times.
It may be time to start looking for another dog...