Saturday, 2 January 2016

When Your Child Goes To Uni

It started with the application. "Mum why do you want to send me to Birmingham?, I don't want to go to Birmingham". Now to qualify this can I explain my son has nothing against Birmingham but being the good mum I am, I thought that if I sent off for as many university prospectuses as possible then I wouldn't limit his chances.

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.

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46 comments

  1. Letting go is so hard. We want to keep hold of our kids forever because we know that NOBODY can protect them like we can. Its been a learning curve for the two of you and it sounds like its all going really well. And the thing with kids these days is that they always come home when they are finished lol good luck with the uni course xx

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    1. Thank you for your comment. It has been a learning curve and he has settled in really well as you say.

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  2. I have just got over the stress of my daughter starting secondary school, I dread to think what I will be like when we get to this stage. It sounds like your son is a true credit to you though and has settled really well x

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    1. That is a stressful time, I really feel for you! My son is a lovely kid, I am blessed.

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  3. Mellissa I think you've come along way, I can remember all the little steps before Jake left for University, I know how worried you've been. It's nice to hear you are more relaxed now, but it's even better to know Jake has found his feet and loving Uni too. I can hear you're beaming with pride, he is doing so well.
    With every day that goes by it will get easier for you.
    Sending you so much love and happiness, you are a great mum. Xxx

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    1. That is very kind of you to say so, but I just try and do my best. Sending you much love, lovely Lucy xxx

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  4. I think you're doing really well, I know you've been worried. Glad you're more relaxed and what a lovely note for Jake at the end of the post :)

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  5. I think you are doing amazingly well and those pictures by Jake are just stunning. Art or being Arty is just not something I do well and am envious by anyone who is x

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  6. Awww,bless. It must be really difficult to let them go as they get older. I'm still right here at the starting line. My first hurdle will be school. I'm glad university is waaayyy off yet.

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    1. It is difficult, harder than I thought it would be.

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  7. My son is due to start primary school in September and I suspect some of my feelings will be the same when he leaves home for uni, I know he will be fine but it doesn't stop me worrying.

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    1. I think as a parent we are programmed to worry.

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  8. Sounds like you're got a great lad there! Enjoy Uni Jake, it'll be the time of your life-and you're lucky Mum will always be there if you need her :)

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    1. He is a great lad and thanks for the comment Laura, much appreciated.

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  9. I can imagine letting go being very hard. Great post.

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  10. What a fabulous post, Jake is soooo talented, you must be so proud. I understand how daunting it must have been at first but hes honestly doing the right thing. Uni isnt really too much about the degree itself anymore, people with degrees are ten to a penny, its more the experience that comes along with it. It is so character building and makes you really grow up so in the end you come out with a great education and lots of life skills providing you work hard and stay focused. I stayed at home for university and really regret it as I missed out on the independence that living away from home gives you. If I were to do it all again, I'd have definitely moved out. Best of luck to Jake, he sounds like hes going to go far with his talent xxxx

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    1. Thank you for your kind words Laura, he is super talented and I am immensely proud. Yes university is character building and I am glad now that he is independent and enjoying himself in halls of residence.

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  11. Wow Jake is such a talented artist. His perception of art is just incredible he will go very far and I wish him the best of luck!

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  12. Something I regret is that I never went to Uni, though I would have wanted to have been closer to home. That portrait of Benedict is amazing, so talented!

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  13. Oh wow I often think how I will feel when them time comes to see my boys go to Uni - so happy your son is enjoying living in Cardiff and his art work is amazing

    Laura x

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    1. Thank you Laura. He is loving Cardiff, it is such a happening place.

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  14. It's tough time when the kids leave home. You never feel that they are ready, but it sounds like Jake is doing really well. At least he's not far away to be able to catch up with. X

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    1. Yes he isn't too far away, which is great!

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  15. What a lovely post - my eldest is in her second year in Bristol Uni - I worry like mad, but am so very proud of her. She has had such a personal journey over the last year or so. Pickle has just started pre school today, so I am feeling that wrench too! Kaz x

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    1. You know what it is like then Kaz xxx sending love and hugs.

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  16. Jake is awesome, you are awesome, and I'm so glad you're my friend. You know I recognise those tears, as I've told you so before! Jake will always be your little boy, he's such a lovely lad, that won't change.

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    1. Thank you sweet Lucy, you are a great friend and I know you have been through the emotions yourself. xxx He will always be my little boy.

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  17. What a lovely read. Well done mum! Your son is hugely talented at Art - those pictures are incredible. He's clearly going to go far....but not without the help of him mum ;)

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    1. Thank you Suzanne, I'm there to supporting him all the way.

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  18. Huge thankyou to Lucy for directing me to this post. I will be taking my daughter for her three uni interviews this month and this post has helped loads already.

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  19. What a talented young man and a lovely post (I totally meant to comment when I first read it a few days ago!). Letting go is so difficult isn't it but like Lucy said, you have come a long way since your initial concerns and you must be SO proud of him. :-) x

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    1. Thank you for your kind comments. He is very talented and I am so proud of him. I didn't expect to feel like I did when we were preparing for him to go but since he settled in, I feel so much better.

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  20. I guess if we love our kids, letting go is another phase in their transition to adulthood. Letting go is never going to be easy for any mum though. I have twin daughters in their final year at uni and somehow they've coped rather well on their own.
    Jake is a very talented young man and you have every right to be proud of him. I hope he gets to read this post x

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  21. You must be so proud, he sounds very talented. I imagine it's hard letting go. My step-daunter started uni last year so I can relate xx

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  22. Aww this is lovely. His drawings and artwork are amazing. What a talent. You sound so sensible; I hope I am just like you. Miss my children but know they are doing ok and coping. I hope Jake does brilliantly and you enjoy him when he is home. Thanks for linking with #bestandworst xx

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  23. Ahh Mel, he is so, so talented he is going to be just fine I think :) Helen #bestandworst xx

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  24. Amazing art work he is so talented. You would be surprised how people adapt to new situations. I lived with 3 lads in my final year of uni, I was far away from my parents but they were all close. They still needed their mums. But I took the role of mum a bit, they confided in me and asked me for help when they were a bit stuck. There is always a good friend to help you out if you are scared or confused or upset or unsettled.

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  25. What a lovely post! It sounds like he is doing so well, but I can totally understand your concerns. It must be nice knowing he's not too far away. My son is 14, so this is a few years off yet, but I'm sure those years will fly by! Maybe time to show him how to use the washing machine...
    Thanks for sharing with the Britmums Teen and Tween Round-up.

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