Our Jack, the oldest grandson, set off for Uni today. It's the beginning of a new era and it's gong to be awesome.
Mr B and I phoned him yesterday evening to wish him
well. I told him I thought he could not do better than to follow the lead set by his uncle, My Boy, in remembering three small words that would be his guaranteed gateway to friendships.
I still remember it:
transporting our Youngest to university in Cardiff. Because he was the Fourth in Line, I was better prepared in terms of gathering together items which would make his new residence feel like home. A smart new duvet cover, a colourful rug, posters for the walls.
All pretty humdrum stuff compared to Jack's inventory - of which more later.
How proud I was of My Boy when, after unpacking his belongings, he caught sight of another newbie looking a trifle uncertain. Hand
outstretched, my lad advanced on the stranger: "Hi, I'm Steve!" he announced with just the right mixture of confidence and concern. Ice broken. When, I marvelled to myself, had he grown so mature, so self-confident?
Anyway, this is the story I relate to Jack. Three little words. Not a lot to remember but they can go a long way when you are venturing into The Unknown. Obviously I don't mean that he should introduce himself as Steve, don't be silly. "Hi, I'm Jack!"
should do the trick. Jack explains that he has been in contact with some of his future mates already via Facebook. Ah, the world has changed indeed! Maybe those three little words will be Surplus To Requirements. Jack, however, is not the kind of grandson
to rubbish his Nan's suggestions. He listens politely and says he will, of course, remember...
Apparently the car was packed already, in preparation for an early start this morning. Included among the items
vital for wellbeing were the weights which we bought him last Christmas. These weighed the car down (if you'll excuse the pun) in no uncertain manner. Other essentials included his ukelele - let's hope his neighbouring students are also of the musical variety.
Our parting present to Jack was a trifle unusual - a gift bag full of nuts and seeds to help in the making of his morning smoothies. I managed one of my silly rhymes to accompany our present:
"Seeds and nuts, nuts and seeds!
What every morning smoothie needs!
A taste of home when you're far away,
and ready for the day.
(Or, sometimes with a head quite sore
From too much "fun" the night before?)
We knew that spinach
would only wilt
And juice would likely just get spilt
And, even worse, I'm just supposin'
Summer fruits would not stay frozen.
How on earth could we engender
The perfect mixture for your blender?
Seeds and nuts, nuts and seeds
What every morning smoothie needs!"
Jack diplomatically refrained from commenting on the rhyme but was most appreciative of the present itself. My reasoning
was that, when you are a long way from home, for the first time in your life for more than a single week, it's good to start each day with something familiar, something homely, something, well, smooth...
the Youngest of the Darling Daughters I know it will have been a painful day. She will be driving back home from York as I write and I would be surprised if tears are not flowing. I've had the same experience four times over - and it never became any easier.
Your child might have reached the Giddy Heights of eighteen years old, but you still feel in your heart that you have a lot of mothering left to do.
Time is a kind master in this respect: my Darling Daughter
will find that her mothering will still be called upon ten, twenty, thirty years on. That's why I'll be here for her today, or tomorrow, or next week or whenever she needs to chat, to mourn, to laugh, to cry. I will know, at least, not to make glib pronouncements
about hardly knowing he's gone - because the gap he will leave in his close and loving family will be huge.
I'm not sure, in this case, that a silly rhyme would be altogether appreciated...