To explain his reluctance here is a little bit of background about us. We live in a little seaside town in South Wales. Close to Cardiff and Swansea the area is very middle class, comfortable even, with many retired people. It doesn't have a lot for teenagers to do but it's close proximity to the capital of Wales is it's major selling point, as well as it's lovely beaches.
My son is creative. He is also super talented in art and film making. He is not a very 'grown up' kid, I hope I don't embarrass him by saying that. I guess I do too much for him, and also in this day and age I think parents are more protective than ever. It's only recently that he started using public transport for example...and washing his clothes, but more of that later. He likes routine and knowing what he is doing each day. He also likes familiar places - Birmingham is not a familiar place to him.
Benedict Cumberbatch By Jake - Unfinished
So we revisited what courses he wanted to do. Studying Media, Art and Film studies at A level he has a huge passion for film and art. We decided to go to some open days and after visiting a couple of different places, the courses at the University Of South Wales in Cardiff looked ideal, specifically the film making and special effects courses.
So he applied - then I had a panic.
Don't get me wrong I wanted him to go to university, to make his way in the world, to get a fantastic degree, to be the best he can possible be. Yet sometimes he's still my little boy. The little boy that I scooped up in my arms when he did his first steps. The little boy that due to speech problems would get frustrated easily. The little boy whose nursery teachers said he wouldn't attend mainstream education. The little boy that I waved goodbye to on his first day in primary school, with a few tears. The boy that played a lead role in the year 6 primary show, making everyone laugh. The boy that gave me a hug every morning before school without fail. The man that made me laugh with his sense of humour and comic timing. The man that proved them all wrong by getting 9 GCSES and the school's award for the highest grade in Art at GCSE. The man who gained 3 A levels with an A grade in Art and made me so proud. The man who still gives me a hug every time I see him.
The Joker by Jake
When a child you love so much is starting to make his way in the world, it's natural to feel so many emotions. I started waking up in the night crying, and I don't know why. Some people even say it's akin to a grieving process, and I guess it's like figuratively speaking losing a part of you.
He was accepted into Cardiff and we were all so happy. Although initially he wanted to travel, the public transport when we live is shockingly bad so we managed, with the help of my lovely mum, to scrape together enough money for him to stay in halls of residence. It was reassuring to visit him in halls and see the ladies on reception are like mother figures to the teens. The halls are only a couple of minutes from the uni so even he can get up in time for lectures, well most all the time. I admit it he's not perfect!
So onto the shopping. What shopping would you need, I asked him? Ham, bread and toilet rolls was the answer. I did supplement it with fruit, juice and other essentials though... What is it with teenagers and toilet rolls?
Copyright: Pung Shutterstock
So next the washing. Showing your son how to do his own washing at 18 was probably a bit too late but he managed without turning his white t shirts blue. Then he had to do it in the halls, but wanted his mum to show him how. I could see how he was confused though, credit had to be bought and put on a credit card style card, which was then used to operate the machines. The machines were like nothing I have ever seen before either, similar to industrial machines and when I saw a group of bemused students stood there looking at the washing machines too, I knew my son wasn't alone.
Facebook had been my saviour. When I went to uni years ago social media wasn't around. I wish it had been. My son and I chat every couple of days online. Even if it's just a minute or two, it makes me feel reassured everything is OK. I did warn him I may miss him tremendously and be visiting every week but I have to admit, now I know he has settled in well I don't worry half as much as i thought I would, I miss him but I am not bereft and just got on with things. I even like the look of his tidy bedroom.
A realisation - teenagers can cope without their parents. They may not have the cleanest washing or may live on Weetabix and ready meals but they cope.
When I do visit and take him out for a meal he quite happily has three courses and all the extras. Don't underestimate how much a student can eat, especially when they are not paying!
He's enjoying living in Cardiff and he's enjoying the course. In fact he was somehow made team leader on the first project working together. They had to make a boat out of a cardboard, decorate it in a film theme and sail it on Cardiff Bay. Oh and someone had to get it and sail it across the water. They won! Jake seems to be coming out of him self at uni, and although he appears quiet when you first meet him - underneath he is more confident than I realised.
So to any parents reading this - it will be a shock to you when your child leaves for uni. Social media is amazing for keeping in touch. If you can do some shopping for them they will love it if you give them toilet rolls and don't forget to take out a remortgage for when you take them out for a meal.
Jake...you are doing well and I'm proud to say I'm your mum.