Just the very thought of the teenage years terrified me at one time. They seemed to creep up all too quickly and I just didn’t feel ready to be the parent of a teenager. But actually I soon learned that this stage might be the longest and hardest of all, but it isn’t always as terrifying as I thought it might be. It’s just a case of muddling along and making it up as you go along, just like you did in those earlier years too. Never believe a parent who says that they know what they are doing. Seriously. Don’t believe one word of it. We’re all making it up as we go along.
One of the things that I did find hard was when my eldest two started high school. Honestly, you think starting nursery or primary school is bad but just you wait until you’re waving them off to high school for the first time. Whole. New. Scary. Ballgame. It felt like I was feeding my tiny eleven year old babies in their slightly too big uniform to the wolves. So because I found that stage so hard, I always dreaded the day that they would finish school and go off to college or university. Of course, it always felt like a million years away but in actual fact, these things have a way of creeping up on you and the high school years have felt the quickest yet.
My son who is my eldest is about to finish sixth form and wants to work in IT so he plans to do an apprenticeship come September. I completely respect that he is choosing to go down this path and think it’s great that he has had the maturity to realise that actually, uni is not for him. Obviously we will be there to support him whatever he decides to do and to be fair, there is still time for him to change his mind. Although I doubt he will. He seems to be really looking forward to putting his school years behind him at last and getting out there into the world. We couldn’t be prouder.
For my eldest daughter who is just coming to the end of her first year in sixth form with still another to go, now is the time for her to start visiting open days at colleges and universities. I always thought that I would find this part hard but actually it is quite the opposite. It is such an incredibly exciting time for her and it is positively infectious. Being there to help her to find her own way in the world is really quite something. She isn’t sure what she wants to go on to do at uni yet. Her heart says art but I think her head is telling her to choose a ‘proper’ subject like English literature or sociology. In all honesty, she is such an incredible artist that I hope she is brave enough to follow her heart but that is a decision that only she can make.
We went to visit Leeds College of Art yesterday and she absolutely loved it. It is arguably the best art college in the country and I think for the first time ever, she saw that going down the creative route and choosing a degree in an art subject wouldn’t be the waste of time that school makes her think it is. On one of the courses that she is interested in, something like 94% of the students go on to have a creative career and are often poached before the end of their studies which is incredible really. I think it made her finally realise that a career in art is very much a real possibility. It was such an inspiring day. I was only there to hold her hand and I was ready to sign up myself! If only I had an ounce of talent of course, I’m not sure where my daughter gets it from but it’s certainly not me! Ha!
I am sure I have said it before but there is something so special about seeing your teenagers – your babies – on the cusp of becoming these amazing people. They have their whole lives ahead of them (thanks to you making sure that they have survived to this point in just about one piece!) This is what the last eighteen-ish years have been leading up to. Every tear, every battle, every argument. This is what it has all been for. What I once thought would be the hardest thing of all is actually turning out to be the best bit ever. The heart swelling pride that you feel when you see them make these first tentative steps into the big wide world is hard to put into words. But you’ll see. Hang on in there. Teenagers can be all kinds of awesome.