My son is now in his 3rd year at uni ( he still has another year to complete) and I have picked up a few helpful tips along the way on how parents can prepare their teens for their first year of uni.
I was in your shoes a few years ago worrying myself to death about how he was going to cope at uni, cook for himself, budget his money and ultimately not get himself into any awful situations or get hurt!! ( I know, but c’mon they are our little babies after all).
So having learned some things along the way I thought I would share my wisdom to either save you a crap load of money ( no they really do not need everything AND the kitchen sink) or reassure you that your little baby will be just FINE!
Those of you that know me from Mum in Meltdown will know I haven’t written on there for a long time as I simply fell out of love with that site. Each time I went on there it became apparent I had out grown the Mum in Meltdown label. My boys are no longer younger teens (which was my main focus on that blog) and no longer happy to be talked about………..which is absolutely right and understandable.
So I deliberated for a long time not quite knowing whether to continue blogging………..I mean what the hell was I going to write about. I blogged the teenage years because it’s an absolute brutal minefield that will send you right over the edge on countless occasions. Yet, at the same time I was engaging with people in the same boat, going through the same struggles and therefore, it made me feel……………..well, almost normal.
This year has seen my eldest returning to uni but this time he will be house sharing with four other students, friends he has made while living in student halls last year. They have had a year of independence, almost sheltered in a way, by living in a corridor with 11 others and sharing a kitchen and a couple of bathrooms. They work out differences on their own and gravitate towards other students that they get on with or become friends with. As parents, although it breaks our hearts to see them go, it feels like they are still being supported if they are living on campus with all the facilities around them. My eldest goes to Sussex university and it was well equipped with a large Co op, a large cafe, launderette, bar, pharmacy and a GP surgery! I know not all uni’s are the same and some are spread around towns on different areas instead. Read more
So, the last few months have seen us endure some pretty horrific terrorist attacks around the world as well. 3 in 3 months in this country alone, and I hear more and more people online sharing their fears for their children’s future in such a world.
I too share those fears even though I have older teens now I wonder what will become their ‘normal’ in say the next 20 years with regards to terrorism, policing and our country’s safety. What will they be bringing their future children into in many years to come? But we must teach our children not to live in fear.
I am from Belfast. Born in 1970 and lived my youngest years into my teens throughout the height of ‘The Troubles’ in Northern Ireland. The absolute full extent would probably never have been covered in the national media forums unless it involved the mainland itself. But still it continued on a very daily basis in my area as well as many others.
My parents back then probably had the exact same fears about our future as children with armed police and the Army patrolling our streets and wondering where it would all end up.
Today my eldest son did the nervous walk to school to find out his results and ultimately if he was going to get to go to uni or not.
I really feel for the kids today as they seem to be under so much more pressure that we ever were at that age at school. Pressure from the school, pressure from their peers and even sometimes pressure from their parents.
Neither my husband or I went to university, my hubby went straight from school into a job working in a photographic lab, then on to the MOD and from there into the Royal Air Force ( where we met) and then for the last 20 yrs he has been in the Met Police………….not a bad career for someone with virtually no qualifications. I left school and did a Youth Training Scheme ( YTS- remember those….I am very old you know) as a teacher’s assistant before joining the Royal Air Force, I then worked for the London Ambulance service for many years before having my boys and leaving work. When they got older I trained to become a Driving Instructor which I did before my illness took over……….again not too bad for leaving school with only 5 O levels, although I do have 2 A levels which I did at night school while I was still in the Air Force.
You may have thought I had given up on my little blog it has been so long since I have posted on here, but no, I am still here I have just been having a little break.
It’s not that I haven’t had anything to write about, there have been loads going on in the past few months in my little corner of the world, it is just the fact that I haven’t had the inclination to put it all on here, call it lack of blogging mojo but I have had a total break from my site although I have been active on my social media sites. Last night, however, I attended a lovely event down in Kent which got me back in touch with the blogging community. It was fun, it was nice to meet new people and get a bit of that missing blogging mojo back.
So, what has been happening while I have been away (and I do not mean the obvious political stuff that is all over social media at the minute). In my little bubble, I haven’t been active on here since attending a review for a local spa, which I have now joined myself and try and go there at least twice a week. I cannot tell you how relaxing it is using the heat rooms ( sauna and steam) there and how lovely that has been for my poor M.E/Fibro muscular pain.
There’s been 18th birthday celebrations for my eldest ( in April) before all the madness of his A level exams recently.
Ok so before all you teachers instantly take offence to that I will openly say I do not think secondary teachers are paid enough for what they have to deal with and I could not for all the money in the world even contemplate teaching teenagers!! I appreciate you all have several classes with probably 30 moody, whingy, bolshy annoying teens in every class driving you to complete distraction getting on your last nerve at times…………….. I repeat I COULD NOT DO THAT JOB.
That said, when it comes to your own child and you can see him being persecuted for being fidgety, talking, moving, getting distracted and distracting others. Now I am not a mother who sees her children as little angels, I am fully aware that my 15 year old son is ‘high maintenance’, loud, demanding and can drive me to total distraction on a daily basis, so I do appreciate how that could be a pain in the arse to deal with in a class of 30 kids. So when the said child does not change over the years, finds it hard to focus and is the king of ‘low level disruption’ but is generally a very likeable boy surely some alarm bells would be ringing from the school side of things?
Now if you asked me this a few years ago my answer would have definitely have been yes, that would have been because I was then working as a qualified Driving Instructor as a job and obviously had a suitable car which had duel controls. In fact it was something I was really looking forward too. I no longer work as a driving instructor due to my long term illness and so I am now looking at it purely from a parent’s point of view.
Therefore,if you ask me that question today, the answer is a resounding NO! In fact, just today I have booked him to start his lessons with a reputable company and instructor. Many of you will think this is madness to throw all that money away on lessons even though I feel I could teach him no problem but I would only do so in a suitable car with duel controls, believe me I speak from experience that learner drivers try to kill you on a daily basis when they are only starting.
This is what we have been going through recently, my teen gets an ASD diagnosis at 17. My eldest has always shown Asperger traits throughout his growing up, but appeared very high functioning. It has never been a major issue to him or us as parents to major degree but now looking back we both feel a lot more makes sense.
He noticed himself after being at secondary school for a year or so that he ‘seemed’ different to his friends. That’s also when his lack of management skills came into play big time and and we had a discussion with him then to see if he wanted to pursue it further and get a diagnosis. At that time he said no, he didn’t want to be labelled different or have any spotlight put on him and so we helped him alongside the school to help him with organisation.
It has also not hindered him in any way with friends, he has some great friends in the last few years that just accept him and his sometimes ‘odd’ ways and in fact it was one of those friends who encouraged him to go to his GP for help.
However, as he got older and then headed through the pressure of his GCSE’s it started to take it’s toll resulting in high levels of anxiety. We were totally unaware about it as he hid it very well under a laid back exterior. But this led to a period of very low mood. This happened when he as a 16 years old. Encouraged by one of his friends he then made an appointment with his GP and went off to discuss his possible ‘depression’ before telling us that he had gone. He informed us that they were going to follow it up with a referral to our Children’s and Young Adults Mental Health clinic.
We have supported him in his decision fully and have found out from our consultations that this high anxiety and low mood is very common in undiagnosed, high functioning, ASD cases in teens. They get to a certain age and then start to feel socially awkward and uncomfortable in a time that is turbulent for most teens anyway. Therefore, this can lead to the high anxiety resulting in a secondary ‘depression’.
It feels like time is just spiralling out of control, there’s no brakes, no way of slowing it down to appreciate what is going on.
This week saw my youngest turn 15, now one of the oldest in his class. To be honest he’s like 15 going on 50 but that’s another story, however, his age now hits hard as he is my youngest, my baby so to speak. It seems like only last week we brought him home from the hospital and felt we had all the time in the world to appreciate him.
So what happens? We blink and they are teenagers, to old to be babied and not old enough to be an adult, yet they are like mini adults with their own personalities and strong views. I am now officially the smallest person in the house with the 2 boys towering over me, making me feel small and old!
Birthdays can make you nostalgic, look back with rose tinted glasses and feel as though you didn’t make the most of the time when they were young. Of course this is never true. They were hard work as babies, they took all of our time, we were up during the nights, nursed them when they were ill, praised every stage of their development and enjoyed all the different stages they have been through.