July is filled with an air of promise for parents and children, the feeling that the months ahead will be filled with fun, freedom and sun. The end of term is filled with exams, finishing course work, sports days and end of term trips and the count down to the holidays can be fraught.
Getting the teens out of bed in the morning is harder each day and I cant wait until we can dispense with routine and melt into an easy going, lossey goosey kind of schedule. Even if I still have to work, I love not having to nag about bedtimes, they can stay up as late as they like and I get a couple of hours of peace in a tidy house, first thing in the morning!
For a mum, the holidays somehow feel like you get your children back, especially if they are teenagers. They are unencumbered by the pressures of school and complications of relationships with their friends and the opposite sex . They seem less complicated and more like the children they once were. Maybe its something to do with getting out of London, long days by the sea or pool with hopefully no phone or internet signal, coupled with family dinners every night, make for a feeling of re-connection.
The beginning of the holidays also often mark the end of a landmark in your children’s lives, which is sometimes more heartfelt for parents. Each stage marks a new phase, filled with exciting experiences and with that comes the need to adapt as a parent. The end of primary school is an emotional time and sees the end of a parents daily involvement with their childs school life. Secondary school is much more remote experience, as one becomes less involved with organising a childs social life and more hands on with course work and exams.
Isn’t it strange how teens cant seem to organise handing in their course work or homework, but their weekends are planned meticulously!
At each stage of my children’s lives I have worried and angsted over every potential scenario. The end of the summer term before my eldest started secondary school, saw me take a detour past the school every time I left the house. What did I expect to see? Eleven year olds being tortured by huge teenagers, children taking drugs in the play ground, teachers in tears? Well nothing could be further from the truth (well there are a few horror stories, but we’ll skip over those) and as my eldest now enters his last year at secondary school, I wonder what horrific scenarios I will manage to conjure up in the year ahead!
The end of the summer brings a sense of new beginnings as children change classes, move schools or even leave home to start university. Try as we might to smooth the path ahead, the older our children get, the harder it is to protect them. Maybe it’s hardest for those letting go?
This summer for me sees the end of another chapter in my own life, as I wave goodbye to my closest friend to live abroad. I speak to her almost every day, sometimes about nothing in particular. We have been friends since we were teenagers and seen each other through bad boyfriends, climbing the career ladder, marriage, babies and teens and more than out fair share of moaning. For her and her family, its an exciting not to be missed experience, but I cant help feeling more than a little sad.
It’s the end of an era and the beginning of another, but at least now I’ll have the perfect excuse for a weekend in New York.