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?