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!
Before I start, I want to put this into perspective. No-one has died, or divorced, or left etc. It wasn’t to do with grades or uni or even a relationship. But this week my eldest son had what they see would as a huge disappointment. He was due to go on holiday with his girlfriend and her family on an early flight on Saturday morning to Tenerife for a week. He had been invited over the Christmas holidays and we agreed that it would be his gift for his 19th birthday which is on Easter Sunday this year. A lot of money was spent on flights, insurance, passport and proper summer clothes that he was going to need.
Last week there was things to sort for him everyday leading up to picking him up from uni late on Thursday evening so we had Friday to sort all the packing and money exchanging. It was a busy week for me as it’s not every day I can be up and around and active due to my illness, however, by Friday morning we were fairly relaxed thinking we were ahead of ourselves.
Then came the message that was to change it all. His girlfriend messaged to say her younger brother had been rushed into hospital that morning as he had become unwell without any warning signs or symptoms. When he told us my hubby and I knew right there and then that they would not be flying out to their holiday,but wanted to allow him to process what was happening and come to his own conclusions without us being instantly negative. However, as the morning went on I received a call from the mum to tell me what was happening and that they would have to cancel the holiday! Having never spoken to her before other than a phone message I felt so sorry for her when she was getting upset telling us they have to cancel. As an adult we can look at the whole situation and know that the most important thing was that their son was going to be OK. But we then had to break the news to my son, yes he’s 19 years old and should be able to process the initial disappointment and be able to know that it was more important that their son was well. However, throw in the fact he hasn’t been on proper holiday abroad for around 10 years so he was definitely excited about going, also the fact he was going to spend a week with his girlfriend ( who he doesn’t see every week because she lives in Norfolk and he’s at uni in Brighton) and then add on that the fact he has Aspergers.
I have seen more and more of these style of trampoline parks popping up all over the place taking over (almost) from the generation of kids indoor playcentres, with the difference being that us adults can also now ‘pay and play’!
We were invited along to Jump In trampoline park Tonbridge in Kent over the half term, which has just recently opened in fact. This one was on an industrial estate ( which most of these places are anyway) and although there was a decent sised sign on the outer gate we really had to look hard to make sure we were in the right place as this was the sign on the building itself….
We were advised to register everyone in our group that were actually going onto the trampolines and those under 18 need to be signed in by an adult on the waiver form.
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?
My youngest son is 15 going on 35 so mature for his age group and acts like he is an adult!
As most of you will know if you have teen boys they hit that point where they stop asking you every 5 minutes ‘what we are doing today?’ and hole themselves up in their bedrooms, curtains closed, headphones on with games controllers in their hands and either ignoring you or telling you to get out of their rooms.
This pretty much sums up my youngest for about the past year, where it has been pretty hard to get him motivated with anything. Then Sunday out of nowhere he comes down to the table in the lounge and sets up an area so he can make a model of a tank. Yes I know I thought I was hallucinating too! From 2pm he worked on it all day until around 9ish in the evening breaking only to have his dinner. To be bloody honest I don’t think I have witnessed him sit in one place for anywhere near that long before (even when he is gaming he is up and down stairs getting food and drinks).
My eldest son is about to turn 18 in April. In all fairness his room hasn’t been decorated as such since we had a whole house refurb about 7 yrs ago.
When we did the building work the boys went from sharing a room to having a room of their own. At the time we literally just split their bunk beds to make temporary singles for each room.
We kept the colours neutral so we could just easily change bedding/ curtains and posters or wall art to suit their changing tastes. This has worked very well up until now.
Now, as my son turns 18 we are looking to overhaul his room making it into a more adult looking space. There is plenty of room to fit a double bed which will be our priority. He is no longer a little boy but an almost 6ft young man and needs room to spread out. So definitely time for a teen room makeover.
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’.
Now when I say teens I don’t mean a 13 yr old with younger siblings, those teens are normally more than happy to engage in the family activities that their brothers or sisters like- a day at the park, walking in the woods, cooking/baking at home and Halloween crafts , bike rides and meeting up with friends while mums can grab a coffee and a natter and a bit of moral support!
But my eldest is 16 and has a younger 14yr old brother who is mature for his age and so thinks he is 16 himself. There are no younger siblings to occupy so we have moved on from planning every day to within an inch of it’s life and gone for a few planned things throughout the week with free time for the rest so they can either lounge in bed watching DVD’s or playing Xbox ( shoot me now for being a bad mother).
So as the net is saturated with activities for younger kids here is a few ideas that your older teens may enjoy (and you may earn some brownie points for).
Maybe that isn’t the right thing thing to teach your teenagers to play poker ( but my 2 are both dab hands at Texas Hold ’em *coughs*)
But this is a different style of poker, more like poker stakes with a difference- no money changes hands!
I’m totally sick and tired of my two whinging, whining, woe is me teens. Honestly I don’t know how on earth I got to the ripe old age of………43 without them. It’s a total miracle that I have made it in one piece with their infinite wisdom. C’mon all you with teens will know- THEY KNOW EVERYTHING!!
Well here’s my Teenage Poker game :
* I ‘see’ your 700 channel, 24 hour on demand TV ( in your own room) remotely controlled so minimum of movement is required- and I ‘raise’ you a one telly per household, with an amazing 4 channels to choose from, with kids shows only available on certain times AND you had to get off your arse to change channel, adjust the volume and switch it on and off!!
* I ‘see’ your health and safety gone mad child safety toes including padding for everywhere for anything used on the move, trampolines with total surround safety nets and barriers to stop you getting even remotely close to anything that could possibly damage you precious little bodies- and I *raise* you the Pogo stick, metal adjustable skates that went on your shoes and homemade go carts with no brakes and a rope to steer! ENOUGH SAID
* I ‘see’ your named brand clothes that are a ‘must have’ where literally NOTHING costs less than £60 even though the ones you are wearing are absolutely fine and still fit- and I ‘raise’ you the 80’s fashions!!!! We have been scarred for life and we have the picture evidence to prove it.
* I ‘see’ your games consoles, laptops, Ipads, tablets and Iphones with everything at an instant touch of a button teaching you nothing but lack of patience- and I ‘raise’ you……….The Atari with the exciting Pong game!!! Graphics at it’s best LOL
* I ‘see’ your door to door on call chauffeur service to all your extra curricular clubs so your precious little legs didn’t get worn out and so are kept safe from all the horrible nastiness that is on our streets today – and I ‘raise’ you the if you cant walk there your not going and the the journey to school in an easily recognisable protestant uniform across town on the bus through a predominantly catholic area starting when I was 11 years old going to secondary school. I looked danger in the eye on a daily basis and still made it to my ripe old age!
* I ‘see’ your on your person 24hrs a day phone in touch with your friends and family wherever you are at any given moment- and I ‘raise’ you the one telephone household. A phone normally situated in the hall that had an attached receiver that stretched all of a metre if you were lucky and no privacy to talk what so ever- with everyone listening in to your conversation!
Therefore, I win hands down and if anyone should have Childline on speed dial then it should be US- your old, know nothing, haven’t lived parents.