This is absolutely true.
But, as I have mentioned, truth is relative…
Spud went off to Sheffield University on Sunday. It’s forty minutes away by train; nearly three hours in a car when there’s no direct motorway, you have to trek through the Pennines, and there’s a big event on. It took two hours to travel two miles at one point.
I have two children, both sons. For all of the similarities they have, I might as well have a dragon and an iguana: they’re both lizards but you wouldn’t let one of them near your princess or the other your salad.
On their respective first days at university, one child kicked us out the minute the car was empty; the other encouraged us to do his unpacking for him.
One boy enjoyed Freshers’ Week so much, he made a point of going back early in his subsequent years; the other had decided by Tuesday night that he’s not a party-party-party kinda guy.
One son was irritated by the amount of food I insisted he take; the other was irritated that I had only packed enough for one term.
One lad didn’t call home for the first three months and when he did, made Marcel Marceau look like a gossip; the other has called home every day, because he knows we want to hear about all of the interesting things he’s doing.
Spud called today to tell us about meeting his tutor – he and Spud are the only males in a gaggle of girls. They discussed the psychology of favourite biscuits for thirty minutes. Looks like it’s going to be an interesting course.
He has signed up for various societies – dramatic, musical theatre, singing…oh, and the psychology society (‘Psychos’) as an afterthought, though he didn’t pay for a three-year membership in case he’s too busy to go because he’s rehearsing.
He mentioned that he had chips on the way home last night. A small chippy owned by Sean Bean’s family offered free vouchers for chips, paid for by Sean Bean. Yorkshiremen are renowned for being careful with their money but he obviously broke the stereotype.
I hope Spud gets talent spotted at one of his societies, moves to Hollywood, and pals up with his chip donor so I can finally ask the questions which have niggled me for years: who on earth named Sean Bean? And why isn’t his name pronounced Shorn Born or Sheen Been?
I’m missing my baby. I missed my other baby when he first left home; but then he kept coming back between moves, leaving more of his stuff each time. I don’t have space to miss him at the moment: it’s taken up with boxes of clothes (a lot), books (a library) and Yu-Gi-Oh cards (some children never grow up). The youngest child has made up for that by taking only what he thought he might need with him (not much); leaving what he wanted to hold on to but which was not essential for uni (even less); and chucking the rest (making a butter mountain look positively frugal).
So, with all of these differences, was my reaction the same to their leaving?
No, it wasn’t.
With Tory Boy, I was caught up in his excitement and it was only when we said goodbye that I surprised everyone – not least, myself – when I burst into tears.
With Spud, I was tearful all week but didn’t sob (much) at our goodbye because I had become so crippled by holding it all in. Of course, he didn’t see the tears flow in the car on the way home, having abandoned me for student dissipation.
The boys do have some similarities. Tory Boy phoned on Sunday night and we had a conversation that I could have had with either one of them after an upsetting day:
Tory Boy: I was worried about you; I wanted to know if you’re okay?
Mum: I’m fine, thank you, sweetie. Managing, anyway.
Tory Boy. Good, good…so: did you cry more for him or me?