Growing Bookworms – Letting Go!

I’m going to start today’s post with a short, hopefully amusing, story about my taking my oldest son to get his university access card last week. By way of background, the relevant entrance for this task is on a busy street with no parking. The area is also not a good one, so hanging about on the street in front of the entrance is not particularly appealing. Another thing to note is there have been a spate of kidnappings of older teens and young men recently in South Africa.

“I think that Greg should go on his own to fetch his University card,” I say to Terence. “He won’t want his mother with him. I will embarrass him.”

“No,” Terence says with authority, “Parents go with.”

Hmmm, I think. You attended this university thirty years ago, things might have changed.

There is no arguing with this man who is over the moon that his son has achieved a scholarship to study a BSc Computer Science at “his” university. Thirty years has disappeared in a trice and Terence is back in full University mode. You’d think he was going and not Greg.

At 8.30am on the appointed morning, a determined Terence drops Greg and I off on the street in front of the entrance, waves cheerfully, and heads off to work, which is fortunately close by.

We go to security. Greg calls a number and is granted access. I call the same number and am not allowed in. I notice a few other parents outside the security gate.

“You just go on your own,” I say. “I’ll wait for you here.”

Off Greg goes and I am stuck standing on the street in this undesirable area. There are two security guards and a few other waiting mom’s so I don’t panic. One lady is very nice and makes conversation while we wait.

Ten minutes later, Greg texts me: I don’t know where to go.

I message back: Come back to the gate and the security guard will tell you where to go. I saw her telling another boy.

Greg does not come back to the gate. There is complete cyber silence

Another ten minutes pass and he texts: I’ve found it and I’m waiting in the queue.

Happiness! He’s doing this on his own [as he should] and I’m confident we’ve come early and he won’t take long. I feel an idiot waiting outside the barred gate like an unwelcome guest. Other arriving students stare at me suspiciously.

The time drags. One hour passes and my back is aching. I don’t like standing here on the street. I feel agitated. I text Greg: How much longer?

He replies: I’m getting on a bus and going somewhere else.

I text him: where are you going?

He replies: I don’t know.

Complete cyber silence.

I text him – no reply.

I call him – no reply.

I decide he has been enticed into a bus by kidnappers and is on his way to Nigeria to be forced into male prostitution.

I have a panic attack and call him six times.

No reply.

I phone Terence at work and tell him our son has potentially been kidnapped.

Terence knows me. He doesn’t say anything. He gets into his white car and charges to the rescue.

Terence arrives and I jump into the car and burst into tears.

Greg sends a text: I’m getting my card.

I tell Terence that the kidnappers are responding to messages on Greg’s phone so they can throw us off the scent and cross the border.

Terence is undecided: Should he take me to the closest mental institution or try to find Greg.

Greg texts: I’m finished. Can you fetch me from Alpha Campus.

***

It was very funny. Afterwards. Of course, I broke a major rule of “letting your child go.” Stay in the moment rather than imagining the worse-case scenario. Catch yourself if you are catastrophizing a situation.

Letting go is more about letting go of our own fears and anxieties as parents. It is adjusting to the idea that you are no longer in control of your child and they are now making their own choices and decisions. It also means they are responsible for any fallout from those decisions.

I blame my anxiety about my children on their collective 32 operations, chronic health problems, and the two home invasions I have been involved in. I have trust and anxiety issues, but I still need to get a grip and accept that my son is now an adult. Even Michael, needs some freedom and to be given wings.

Some other advice to parents who struggle to let go is as follows:

  1. Stop trying to raise a “happy” child. Accept that making decisions and choices is going to result in mistakes and the resultant misery these bring. People need these experiences to grow and learn.
  2. Empower your child over time by giving them some power of less important decisions as they get older. If they refuse to study for an important test, let them fail. You can’t shelter your child from all the difficulties in life and they need to learn to prioritize.
  3. Set boundaries and follow through on punishments if your child fails to comply. If you tell him/her to be home by 10pm and he gets home at 11pm, ground him. He needs to learn about consequences for actions.
  4. Have respect for your child and his/her ability to handle situations as they grow up. Have faith in the values and ethics you have instilled in them.

Did you struggle to let go when it come to your children? Let me know in the comments.

To round this post off, I am sharing a poem I wrote about letting go. It is included in my book, Behind Closed Doors.

He walks away by Robbie Cheadle

From the first day

he took a tentative step

on uncertain chubby legs

attached to adventurous feet

he moved away from her

embracing with enthusiasm

the mysterious outside world

She watched over him tenderly

as he learned about life

discovered the joy of friendship

and the heartbreak of loss

embarked on his academic journey

exploiting his strengths and

overcoming his weaknesses

and during all this time

mom was always enough

her smile healed all wounds

her kiss cured all pain

but she knew in her heart

that this investment of hers

was ultimately for another

a nameless faceless other

who would eventually take her place

she was preparing him to leave

and find his place in this world

His independence draws ever closer

her smile no longer enough

as he jostles for position

in the heartless world of men

her kiss no longer wanted

as he seeks the lips of the other

It’s heart wrenching to let go

knowing he must suffer pain

before he finds his enduring love

encounter setbacks and loss

before success and satisfaction

but it’s the duty of a mother

to set her son loose

to fly alone

About Robbie Cheadle

IMG_9902

Robbie Cheadle is a South African children’s author and poet with 9 children’s books and 2 poetry books.

The 7 Sir Chocolate children’s picture books, co-authored by Robbie and Michael Cheadle, are written in sweet, short rhymes which are easy for young children to follow and are illustrated with pictures of delicious cakes and cake decorations. Each book also includes simple recipes or biscuit art directions which children can make under adult supervision.

Robbie has also published 2 books for older children which incorporate recipes that are relevant to the storylines.

Robbie has 2 adult novels in the paranormal historical and supernatural fantasy genres published under the name Roberta Eaton Cheadle. She also has short stories in the horror and paranormal genre and poems included in several anthologies.

Robbie writes a monthly series for https://writingtoberead.com called Growing Bookworms. This series discusses different topics relating to the benefits of reading to children.

Robbie has a blog, https://robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com/ where she shares book reviews, recipes, author interviews, and poetry.

Find Robbie Cheadle

Blog: https://www.robbiecheadle.co.za/

Blog: robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com

Twitter: BakeandWrite

Instagram: Robbie Cheadle – Instagram

Facebook: Sir Chocolate Books

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83 Comments on “Growing Bookworms – Letting Go!”

  1. Reblogged this on Robbie's inspiration and commented:

    I am over at Writing to be Read with the February edition of Growing Bookworms. This month I am discussing letting go of children. Thank you to Kaye Lynne Booth for hosting me.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. olganm says:

    This is such a fabulous and honest post, Robbie. I have no children but have shared similar moments with my children’s friends. You are right, of course, but you can’t help how your feel. And thanks for sharing the poem. It is perfect. Good luck to Greg! I am sure he’ll enjoy the experience and you should all be so proud!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Dear me… Robbie, you are a breath of fresh air and the sort of Mother that everyone should have. Your description of waiting for the “kidnappers” to release your son had me giggling out loud. God Bless you for that which go through every day, in the name of love.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. beetleypete says:

    Although I never had children, I have four step-children. The oldest is now 37, the youngest 33. My wife still treats them all as if they are 6 years old, and if they want a favour, they call her ‘Mummy’ when they phone her. A stark contrast to my own life at the age of 18, when my dad told me to ‘Be a man, and get on with it’.
    (Though my mum spent the next 35 years feeding me as if I was about to starve to death.)
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Dan Antion says:

    It is easy to drift toward the worst case scenario (my wife is an expert). I’m glad everything went well and I can imagine the pride and excitement that must be rolling through your home.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. You told the story of acquiring the university card in a very amusing fashion, but I know it wasn’t funny at the time. I wonder how cell phones have changed parents’ letting go process with their children.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Liz, I get quite anxious about my kids. I think this is the after effect of the home invasion I experienced and all the years of chronic illness and operations with my kids. I am overwrought and anxious about them. With just cause sometimes. Michael was pushed/hustled on the sports stands last week. He feel face forward and hit the ground hard with his head. His glasses were bent to a 90 degree angle and he passed out for a few seconds. He has been booked off for this whole week with concussion. I don’t remember that sort of thing happening when I was at school. We were to scared of the teachers.

      Liked by 2 people

      • It’s understandable that you’re anxious about your boys after what you’ve described. What an appalling thing to happen to Michael. I hope the perpetrators were caught and punished. That sort of thing did not happen when I was at school. Kids were teased but not physically assaulted. Our vice principal would not have tolerated that kind of behavior.

        Liked by 2 people

        • Hi Liz, it wasn’t deliberate. It was because there was no control or discipline and the boys kept pushing onto the stands so they got all squashed up until some fell off. Michael was one of the unlucky ones and was hurt the most in the fall. I have reported it to the school and they are going to sort it out with the boys and the prefects who should have been controlling the situation.

          Liked by 2 people

        • I suppose that’s some comfort, but you’re right that the adults could have easily prevented it by maintaining the appropriate order.

          Liked by 2 people

  7. marianbeaman says:

    You have the tender heart of a mother, and I too have been tempted to catastrophize a situation, especially when my son was a teen out at night with our car. I’m better at letting go now, but just wait until the two oldest grandsons enter university next year. Very poignant story, Robbie!

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Frank Hubeny says:

    Good advice in your four points and in these two lines of your poem:
    “but it’s the duty of a mother
    to set her son loose”
    As I recall the transition to college for our children was a difficult parting as well.

    Liked by 2 people

    • HI Frank, lovely to see you here. It is a difficult thing to let kids go and trust they are sensible and will make the right decisions, but it does have to be done. I prefer to not be a direct witness to their flying lessons though.

      Liked by 2 people

  9. You have the experiences well put into a lovely poem, Robbie! As a man i only can say “Mothers!!!” Lol But, you are right, What speaks against accompanying your own son? It was seen, that older people are accompanied by youngers, and one call them married couples. Lol
    Haven’t times changed? Good luck to Gregory, and have a nice week! xx Michael

    Liked by 2 people

  10. memadtwo says:

    I understand this well.. Strangely, I was more anxious about the movements of my teenage daughter after we got cellphones(after 9/11when she was 16) than before, when I had no way of getting in touch with her. Is Greg going to live at home or on campus? Even when both girls moved back for a time after college I worried and stayed awake until they got home. When they were away at school. I never thought about it at all. And I do think cellphones make us more anxious, honestly, not less.
    When I think about some of he things I did, also…you can’t protect them forever, or from everything. (K)

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Great story, Robbie. I’m glad it all turned out well.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Daniel Kemp says:

    Good luck to your son, I bet he has a great time.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Danny, he is already have a marvelous time. He is with a bunch of other geeky computer sciency people and is already deeply down a maths rabbit hole and joining clubs. He is going to be part of the gardening society that grow vegetables for disadvantaged people. He is so much like me it is quite amusing.

      Liked by 2 people

  13. Darlene says:

    That is a funny story and I can completely relate. Those of us with vivid imaginations suffer even more. Of course, as mothers, we will always worry about our children. I once asked my mom, “How old do they have to be until you stop worrying about them?” She said, “I don´t know, I still worry about you.”

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Oh, how I can relate to this! My own story involves our youngest son at 16, his lack of a cell phone, and my frantic calls to the police checking for vehicular accidents when I thought he was later coming home than he’d said. He bought a phone the next day. It’s funny now. It wasn’t then. Your son needs to learn to send longer, more explanatory texts!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi there, I agree with you. My son should have sent a proper message so that I didn’t worried. I think he was quite upset that he’d caused me anxiety and he has been better this week. I can relate to your story completely. There are bad people and situations out there.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Jim Borden says:

    congrats to Gregonthe scholarship, and I’m glad he was safe. But I can understand the fear. I’m not sure the worrying ever completely goes away…

    Liked by 2 people

  16. Gwen M. Plano says:

    I loved your story, Robbie. My entire career was in higher education. Each year I’d meet with the parents of the incoming freshmen and tell them what to expect and how we could help one another. Separately, I’d talk to the “kids” about staying in touch with their parents. I’ve many funny stories, but yours is one of the best. 💗

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Gwen, I think it is great that you told the kids to keep in touch with their parents. It is just plain consideration not to make people worry unnecessarily. Youngers forget because they are caught up in the moment. I am glad my story made you laugh, it is funny in retrospect. I am such a drama queen.

      Liked by 1 person

  17. I was with you the entire way, Robbie. I would have been beyond worried. I gather you didn’t take my advice for dropping an Air Tag in his backpack? Or don’t have a Find Me app on your phone? I check on my kids lots of times to soothe my worry without intruding on their independence.

    Love that advice–Stop trying to raise a “happy” child. So very true.

    Liked by 2 people

  18. petespringerauthor says:

    Having been a young man once and now the father of a 29-year-old, I will tell you that most young men resent having a parent around when it comes to helping them. Most want to handle things themselves as they should because that’s part of growing up. Occasionally, he’ll surprise us with a phone call seeking advice, but I know it has to come on his terms. He resents it if we offer unsolicited advice, I LOVE this sense of independence in him, and I know he feels better about himself when he’s managing his affairs. I remember feeling precisely the same way. It is an adjustment period for children and parents alike, but you’ll feel so much pride as you watch him grow into a man.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Pete, it is easier for me to let him do things by himself actually. Then I don’t know and can’t worry. Soon he will be driving and independent from us. I think it is harder for Terence to let go although I worry more. I am okay with letting him do things on his own, I always have been to a certain extent.

      Liked by 2 people

  19. Came here to read the rest of your story. No wonder you write good books. Your imagination really took you to bad places, understandably. The cyber silence drives me scatty!

    Liked by 2 people

  20. Jan Sikes says:

    What a great story, Robbie. It is hard to let go of our children, even though we know we have to. Love the poem!

    Liked by 2 people

  21. TanGental says:

    It’s grim. Never gets better. And it’s a delight and I’d not change it for all the adverbs in Websters. I’m the anxious protective one. Mrs LP the sensible balanced one. I too wrote that poem about the day we dropped Sam off at Uni for the first time. I was v brave for about 5 minutes and then in bits. Good luck with the next snake and enjoy a few ladders in the meantime, Robbie.
    PS I went to two nice schools after age 11. Both had undercurrents of intimidation violence and bullying. My sense was it was less prevalent when my kids went through school ten years ago. I’m not convinced schooling is harder today but accept I might be wrong. Social media has changed the landscape for sure.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Toni Pike says:

    What a great poem, Robbie – and an incredible story. That must have been so frightening, I hope you’ll soon work out the best way for him to get to uni safely. You must be so proud! Toni x

    Liked by 2 people

  23. joylennick says:

    Thank you.Robbie. I felt your fears – having had so much to contend with during the upbringing of your two sons!. I have had three, but, apart from an ‘accident-prone’ middle son, born with a double hernia and operated on before he was one, and COUNTLESS minor accidents and incidents, all three reached their teenaged years in one piece. You have been a fabulous Mum, Like you, I always encouraged our lads to be independent and travel, which they did and they have grown up to be caring and worthy citizens, much to my relief and joy. The very best of luck to you all. Hugs xx.

    Liked by 2 people

  24. Baydreamer says:

    Oh, Robbie, I laughed at your “kidnapper” assumption, yet, I felt your anxiety. I think you and I have that in common, so thank you for sharing and being honest. And your poem is perfect and poignant, so relatable. My daughter and son are older than yours (30 and almost 27), but I have learned that we never stop worrying. We just have to find a way to manage our anxieties. I haven’t experienced the terror that you have, nor the knowledge of kidnapping happening in your area, but watching the news, hearing horror stories of children of all ages is enough to spark the flame of worry. I have to literally let go because mine live across the country. There is nothing I can do but pray for their safety each day, and I will add that those brief little text messages sometimes save the day. Hugs xo

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Lauren, it is hard, isn’t it? Some people worry more than others and I have always been a worrier. Having experienced a home invasion with a gun to my head and gone through 32 operations with my boys, I think I am a bit of a drama queen. Luckily, Terence takes it in his stride.

      Liked by 2 people

  25. Jennie says:

    Absolutely wonderful! I was ‘there’ with you, Robbie. I must say I was the parent who let their child go. Eight years old and a month at sleepover camp. Heading to Italy after graduating from college not knowing a soul or speaking a word of Italian. Other parents did not approve at the time, but years later said, “I wish I had let my child go.”

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Jennie, I am a little over protective of mine. I think it is because they’ve both had such severe health issues plus the high crime rate in South Africa. It also depends on the child. I would have let Greg go away to Uni if he wanted. He chose a local Uni. He said it had the best course in his field. He also chose not to go into Res. He likes the food and cake at home.

      Liked by 2 people

  26. Oh, Robbie. Yes, you broke your rule, but what a trying experience, especially when things don’t feel safe for your kids in general. I’m glad you were able to process the experience and smile… afterward. I love that poem. It’s one of my favorites from your anthology. Congrats to Greg!

    Liked by 2 people

  27. A wonderful story and poem Robbie and I felt your anxiety full on… David may not be a teenager but there was a time when younger and travelling for business that he would find the highest local mountain and head up early in the morning on his own. Before mobile phones I would be thousands of miles away desperately waiting for a call from his office or hotel to let me know he was back down safely. It is a fine line between letting those you love do the things they need to or love and wanting to chain them down… will share in the blogger weekly.. xx

    Liked by 2 people

  28. So, he was pulling your leg about getting on a bus? Kids, lol. Your comment that it’s okay not to raise a ‘happy’ child struck home. I tried to make my daughter’s life easier instead of giving her responsibilities which, in hindsight, only made things harder when she left home.
    As parents, I think we all want the best for our babies, but you’re right, we need to give them room to open their wings of they’ll never learn to fly.
    Great post, Robbie ❤

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Jacquie, we all want our children to have a better life than we had. There is a tendency by those of us that grew up with much less to give our children far to much. I had to catch myself before I fell into this trap with my boys. I have tried to raise them to know they have to work for things. Now they are older, I am very glad I did this as they are much more responsible than many of their peers. I know Greg is sensible so I should trust him. He went on the Uni bus from one campus to another.

      Liked by 2 people

  29. Victoria Zigler says:

    Congratulations to Greg. I found the story amusing, but can tell you for a fact I’d have reacted in a very similar way to you had it been a child of mine, and I can say that with confidence even without having had any. Glad Terrance has better control over his anxiety levels.

    Liked by 1 person


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