That was a fast 17 ½ years…
Someone said to me recently it was a shock when you raise your children to be independent – and then they are.
Yes, it is!
She was my first child so I counted developmental milestones with fervour. She learnt to walk, talk, put on her shoes, eat with a knife and fork, and pee in a toilet to the expected timetable, and I documented it all in The Red Book. (By the time I had a third child I was just happy to note he was still alive on a regular basis).
As the years went by, I was pleased when she showed signs of independence: keen to go to school, unfazed by new places or people, happy spending time on her own. She was willing and able to look after herself and, as the teenage years progressed, she studied for exams without coercion or chastisement, got jobs to earn money, and secured a place at a top university. I was delighted; I had wanted to raise a strong, independent young woman and felt proud that’s how she had turned out.
It wasn’t all plain sailing. We have fought with one another on a regular basis for the last few years. Sometimes our relationship has been so confrontational we have been unable to have the shortest, most basic conversation without falling out. Literally, would you like a cup of tea? could lead to a blazing row. It’s been difficult and exhausting.
But it’s also been fun. My daughter is the funniest person I know and I love her company (when we aren’t screaming at one another).
We went through a lot together when she was little but now our tight team of two has been split down the middle: a few days ago she announced she’d asked for a transfer for her job and had found a room in a student flat to rent for the summer, in a city 150 miles away. The next thing I knew she’d packed two suitcases and wanted a lift to the bus station.
So I dropped her there this afternoon … and now, even though I admire her bravery and independence, I feel like my heart is breaking.
I guess there’s just something about 17 year old girls.
The Beatles wrote about them in When I Saw Her Standing There. Kid Rock sang about them in All Summer Long. When I was 17 I travelled round Europe on my own for 6 weeks, so perhaps this is payback for the worry I caused my own mother.
Big Wide World: please look after my baby girl (or should I just warn The World that she’s on her way?)
“I’ll go and live where I want and just try stopping me…”
“I’ll wear a ballet outfit, a tiara and 7 sets of plastic jewellery all day if I want and just try stopping me…”
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