Growing Bookworms – Letting Go!Posted: February 9, 2022
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.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
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
Instagram: Robbie Cheadle – Instagram
Facebook: Sir Chocolate Books
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