This week I’m remembering my grandfather Frank’s birthday and the one quote he’d always say to my mother Dot when we were at our usual loggerheads through my failure to conform to Dot’s idea of a perfect daughter:
“Let her go her own way.”
Grandfather had lived for many years, and knew what he was talking about. When it was my turn at being a new parent, I didn’t listen to Frank either and tried to mould my wayward eldest son into what I considered was a passable example of what a good son should be. Leon fought back with all the strength he had in his puny body, even from the age of two.
One of the many things Leon fell short of was the ability to organise himself and complete his school homework on time. He found the whole idea of schoolwork tiresome and uninteresting. After a couple of years of shouting (in the days when I could shout) and trying to get him to do the blasted homework, I told him I’d had enough and if he didn’t do the homework, then that was up to him. He couldn’t quite hide his surprise at my statement, and from there on in stopped doing any homework at all and next to no work in the classroom. He was ‘distracting and distracted’ and was the bane of all his teachers’ lives. However, the disappointment was like a scar on his face on the day he received his GCSE results. The urge to say ‘I told you so’ was overwhelming, but I stayed tactfully silent and let him come to terms with it.
Fast forward another year, and apprentice engineer Leon started college. Thankfully he was interested in his electrical engineering studies, loved his day release at college paid for by his employers, and completed any homework set without so much as a murmur. He passed a string of exams, and today has progressed from that 16 year old apprentice to the first rung of management of a national company at age 34.
I realised too late that our children are just on loan to us. They have their own way of doing things, and their own goals and ideas, which are quite often very different from our own. There’s no point trying to turn them into miniature models of ourselves, it just doesn’t work! Leon had to find his own way in the world, and I had to find mine. Dot still nags at me to ‘get my hair cut’, ‘get rid of that bloody awful rucksack’, and ‘wear a nice dress sometimes’. It didn’t work when I was 16, and now I’m nearly 60 I can safely say that it never will!