It's like watching swallows trying out their wings: launching, bit wobbly, oops, return to the watchful eye of the parent bird, then try again, a little bolder, a little more confidence and then they're off . . .
We've been watching our son trying out his various wings for some time, drumming in a band being the real debut of detachment although he was, and still is happy to return to the comforts - food, familiarity, dogs etc, and hopefully, us.
Come the autumn, it'll be for real. Him on his own in a flat in a city (luckily not too far away). We've were graced with an extra year of him to-ing and fro-ing as he undertook a foundation art year in our local town, and thus I/we feel a little more prepared for the . . . departure.
I've talked to several friends about this phase of life with mixed responses from: 'A year on, I still go and sit on his bed and sob, occasionally, to: what a bloody relief . . .
I hope I won't be doing the former and I certainly won't be feeling the latter; hopefully an emotionally healthy point in between with probably the odd pang of worry . . .
Going to look at art colleges with him has brought back many memories of my own forays out from the family nest in Muswell Hill. I think I did all of them on my own as Mother wouldn't have had the luxury of time to accompany me, being on her own and working full time. I do vaguely recall staggering around Exeter with a huge falling-apart portfolio of my stuff and hating the interview. Luckily the one at Farnham was good and I was accepted onto the film and photography course there. Why I mention this is because I never thought at the time, (being young and over-excited about my new life in my halls of residence eight-square meter abode) about what my mother was going though - only child leaving home after a very close relationship of seventeen-odd years.
I have a clear image of waving her off after lugging my wardrobe-sized Wharfedale speakers up to the flat - 'bye Mum, see you . . . sometime, soonish'. She might have gone and howled in a lay-by, or driven back home and downed a few pints in the local (unlikely) or maybe she managed to control it all, got on with her life and half-listened for the phone, without realising, the flat now so much quieter.
I never asked her how it was for her. Maybe I will on my next visit back although her mind is fairly unlikely to recall much now being mostly on its own planet elsewhere.
Maybe it takes the same thing happening to us to fully appreciate the emotions connected with this detachment. I don't suppose our son will think too much about it, as it should be I suppose, but I hope the years we have spent together will leave him with a residual desire to come back and take up his place in the family once in a fairly often while.
Checking out the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Nimes; one of the three colleges applied for.