Friday, April 27, 2012

Empty Nester

My other 'baby' is leaving home on Saturday.  He's 25 and he 'needs his space, okay,' cos I'm 'doing his head in.'  I won't write what my response to that was.

I'm reminded of all those hard yards I - we - have done; the blood, sweat and tears of parenting. And the joy; the love that is so intense it quite often hurts. 

In son, Pete's first week of prep, Al and I were summoned to school by the junior school coordinator to discuss our son's 'anti-social' behaviour.  He didn't fit in.  Can't explain it really.  He's just different.  He always found friends, but they were a bit different too.  Their mothers and I used to commiserate with one another over bottles of chardonnay.

Pete spent lots of time at primary school trying too hard, usually unsuccessfully, to fit in.  He was teased - let's call it bullied - but he fought back.  That was why we were initially called to school during that first week.  He'd been doing his own thing - building something with tan bark - my gorgeous little boy; minding his own business.  He'd been taunted, surrounded, and eventually he retaliated.  He was tall and strong  too so he packed a punch.  Of course kids dobbed on him, called the teacher on yard duty, and somehow it was all Pete's fault.

I understand. Can't have kids swinging punches.  I'd know that even if I wasn't a teacher.

It's hard when your kid's not mainstream; doesn't want to play 'footy' and other team sports. When he wants to read, draw, paint, build, daydream or, at school, entertain himself at the expense of the other kids and his teachers.  Pete, aged seven, thought it was funny when he proved the domino theory on the other kids in his class.  They were all kneeling fronts to backs in a circle. (Interesting lesson plan.  WTF??) Pete thought he'd see what would happen if he gave the kid in front of him a push.  The straight-laced teacher was not amused.  Don't suppose the other kids were amused either, as they tumbled onto the kids in front.  Pete was punished.  He still thinks it was funny.

I couldn't bear to have any other boy than mine.  Goes without saying, so why say it? I'm no fan of team sports either, so thanks for saving me from that, Pete.

On lots of occasions during Pete's primary school years, I had to be his champion and it wasn't just the kids he needed protection from.  What do you do when your kid's fine at home but a misfit at school?  When he won't colour inside the lines?  I used to dread him returning to school after holidays.  He'd be settled and happy, hanging around with cousins and family.  On his return to school, the terrible behaviour would return.  Think he was a nightmare for the teachers until he was in about grade four.  (Probably would have helped if some of his teachers hadn't been so anal and limited, but that's another story.)

Basically, he couldn't keep his head down. An attention seeker, he was oddly attracted to the wrong sorts of kids.  Of course he was picked on, but he couldn't stop asking for it!  Heart-breaking for mum and dad, of course.

It's a long, complex story.  We've had our moments, but really, they all fall within the 'normative' range.  Some parents aren't so lucky.

He's finished uni now but is struggling to find work.  Seems jobs are thin on the ground for junior graphic designers.

Nonetheless, he's moving out.  Clearly, he's downsizing.  Tomorrow he'll take up residence in penury, in a windowless, unventilated 'cell' above a shop on the edge of the CBD.  It's going to be a steep, long overdue learning curve and I have to let him go.

I'm freaking out, man.  But I'll get over it.  In Europe with Al.  My antidote for empty nest syndrome.


  1. I have one of those son's too. And he had his share of "anal and limited" teachers. wonderful aren't they? Well enjoy yourself in Europe. And keep in mind, they always manage to find their way home (and open the fridge door and wonder why there's nothing "good to eat" in there!)

  2. Aww. . . you'll be OK. And, he has to say you're 'doing his head in' -it's sort of a rite of passage phrase. You know that, don't you?
    It sounds like he was fun growing up. . . I bet there were teachers over the years who enjoyed the fact that he wasn't 'mainstream'- I know I love the kids I teach who are a little bit different and individual.
    Hope you're doing better now.