Wednesday, 4 July 2007


Today is the Fourth of July. Independence Day in America, where we celebrate by having cook-outs, fireworks, and lots of beer. Since I've been in England, I tend to ignore this day. Well, who would celebrate with me? Actually, I find my English friends quite amenable to the idea of celebrating a bunch of terrorists (whoops, patriots) beating a bunch of poorly prepared soldiers. But it's just not the same. So I've let this holiday pass most years. I still do Thanksgiving every year. My British friends love Thanksgiving because it's all about food and friendship, two things most people enjoy.


Today is also the day I waved goodbye to my son as he went off independently on his school PGL trip. It's one of the last rites of passage before he moves on to secondary school. I felt like crying but don't know if it's because of my current physical ailments (bad back, cystitis, conjunctivitis) or because I'm sad at the passing of my children's childhood. It seems like yesterday I got my son ready for his first day of school, in his brand new shorts, jumper, and shirt. His blue eyes sparkled that day in anticipation of going to big school. Then big school became a disappointment as he struggled with various subjects.


Now we have grammar school to look forward to. We ordered the blazer yesterday afternoon. Then we went to the meeting last night for new parents. I dragged my boy along because I thought all the boys were going. As we arrived, though, it became apparent that many parents felt it best to leave their sons at home. I'm glad I didn't. He got to meet his new form teacher, listen to the languages master explain the different options, groan at the lame jokes made by his head of year, yawn at the PE teacher. It's just one more way for him to become familiar with what will be his academic home for the next five or so years. None of his friends is in the same form as him. There is one other boy from his school who will be with him. I tried to put a good spin on it. I said the other boy isn't going to be with his good friends either. I said at least he wasn't going to be with the boy he can't stand. I said it will be an opportunity for him to meet other boys. I scanned the list of names. "Oh, yes, you know him from football. And this one used to go to Kumon with you." Still, I could feel his disappointment and watched as he fought back tears. I wish I could do more to make him feel better. But this is something he will have to go through himself.


In the middle of the lame jokes and much-too-long meeting, my mobile rang. I rushed to switch it off, but couldn't find it of course because it was at the bottom of my bott0m-less pit handbag. It was my daughter. She'd found a slug. In the house. She was crying because she didn't know what to do. How did the slug get in the house? Easy. The cat brings them in in her fur. I find at least two everyday this time of year (and some people moan about fleas!). Fortunately, she figured out that she could pick it up with a paper towel and throw it away. Glad to know she's learned something from me. She goes off on her PGL trip on Friday, the day my son comes home. I've spent all weekend and week getting the two of them ready. I'm sure my daughter will be fine, provided there are no slugs in her room.


There's a silence and stillness in the house, a taste of what will be in the future. We bring our children into the world, and they are such a major part of our lives. And then they are gone. Off to have an independent life. Should I celebrate?

15 comments:

Crystal Jigsaw said...

I think you should celebrate being an adoring parent. We do our best for our children, mine's only 7 so I guess I have a long way to go. I worry terribly about Amy's next school and wish sometimes that time would stand still for about 10 years so that I can really make the most of her being my little girl. Lots of good wishes to your son, with parents like you he can't fail to do well.

Crystal xx

lady macleod said...

Yes, and NO *sniff*. I count myself so fortunate to have been in Q's life so much since she went off to university. I had my cry-party (privately) because I thought, you know, she's gone, that's it - as it should be, means I did my job. Just as I am doing the stiff upper lip talk, she calls me and ask me to spend the summer training her for her Outward Bound summer trip. That was too much fun. Then I had her for two more summers, and when she got her Fulbright upon graduating university - she actually WANTED me to come with her!

So...do not despair just yet, or even later. We get them until we die, they get us when they need us..it works out.

Happy Fourth you Yank you!

wakeupandsmellthecoffee said...

Crystal and Lady M: Thank you both for your kind words. I wish I could hold back the years but I can't.

Snuffleupagus said...

Yes, celebrate. They are coming back. When they go for good, hopefully by that time, you'll be dying to get rid of them!

UN PEU LOUFOQUE said...

I am with you all the way re Woodie Gurthie for National Anthem!!

Annie said...

I came to your blog via Lady M!

Happy Fourth! I am an Irish woman in the USA, celebrating Independence Day in style, and feeling like a fraud doing it ha ha!

Yes you should celebrate your children and their independence, however hard or sad it feels. This post makes me think of that somewhat cliche quote, that we must give our children two very important things in life, the first roots, and the second, wings.

My children are still very young, but I anticipate having the same mixed feelings about it all when they start to venture out on their own.

Eden said...

Yes, celebrate their independence. Think how much harder the alternative would be to manage. My brother has a 32 year old brain-injured son who will never be independent. Of course they love him etc. but caring for him forever is daunting.

Like you, I retain Thanksgiving but don't do much for 4th July. Happy 4th to you!

DJ Kirkby said...

Yes celebrate through your veil of tears, just like you probably did at their births.

wakeupandsmellthecoffee said...

Welcome, un peu loufoque, annie, and eden, and thank you for your comments. Annie, I hope you had a great fourth. Don't feel a fraud. I'll be visiting all of your blogs soon.
Snuffy and DJ: Thanks for your words and stopping by.

mind the gap said...

I think you should leap for joy - in a nice way though. But I haven't even started the baby thing and already I'm dreading the 18 year committment. Eek.

wakeupandsmellthecoffee said...

Nice to know you're up and about, Mind the Gap. I suspect you will be a super parent, judging by your sense of humour. Now, I tagged you a few days ago. Are we likely to see anything soon?

Stay at home dad said...

Another 7 years to go yet! But of course I know what you mean.

What is PGL? What is Kumon?!

wakeupandsmellthecoffee said...

Oh, SAHD, you have much to learn. PGL stands for Parents Get Lost. Kumon was the bane of my existence for 4 years till I banished it. It's a maths/English programme aimed at middle-class, overachieving parents and their poor children. I thought it would help my son gain more confidence in maths but it did the opposite. It did push my daughter along but she was good at maths already.

Queen Vixen said...

Yes Celebrate. Oh yes. The next bit is great.

laurie said...

you sound like a great mother. calm, resourceful, and a fast thinker.

(obviously among other things.)