In fact, the last ten days or so have been an emotional roller coaster for me. It’s strange but true that when the middle classes engage in the daily cut and thrust of child-rearing, it’s the small issues of homework marks, team selection, test results and playground scraps that appear to matter most. So much of what we worry about is concerned with measuring ‘success’, as though by fighting our child’s corner with every sports coach or holiday course we can somehow guarantee the polishing of a brilliant, ‘special’ adult to offer to the world.
Except, of course, that the real work is in nurturing a youngster from childhood to something approaching adulthood in a way that keeps his limbs, liver and self esteem intact. And…that’s it, really. Each year a new crop of brilliant, special and yes, occasionally mediocre youth is let loose upon a tired world. From that point on, it’s up to them to build, compose, design, write, compute, sing and deal their way through life.
In the last fortnight one son has graduated from Durham,
and one has left the most glorious of school environments for ever. In the space of a few days, two of England’s most beautiful cathedrals have served as window dressing to significant rites of passage.
For Henry, in particular, who this afternoon sang his final choral pieces in Canterbury, today marked the end of one musical era, and the beginning of another.
What was once a time consuming part of my life is now becoming woven into its history.
Sometimes I forget that the world is bigger and altogether more complicated than the world of school. In this strangest of weeks, I have found myself praying daily for a nine year old girl I know in her perilous battle for life against leukaemia: meanwhile the teenage parties have continued as they always seem to do these days. The worst of these involved four ambulances. My immediate response was to utter another prayer – this time, that none of my children were stupid enough to be involved!
And so, I think I am going to end this weird time with thanks that we have all made it this far, a quiet sniffle that some very special moments are behind us, and the hope that – once I have made it through the inevitable pile of laundry
– HN and I are ready to wave them off on the next stage of their journey, knowing that ‘success’ is measured not just in achievements and prizes, but in memories and moments like these.
And next year…we get to do it all over again!