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“It’s life, Jim, but not as we know it…”

Life is rushing by me far too fast. I want the journey to slow down a bit so I can enjoy every minute and not miss a thing.

This headlong dash through the years has been thrown into panicky relief today as my boy went off to his secondary school for the first of three “taster” days to get him used to that brave new world.

Having managed to avoid running screaming through the village yelling “No! No! Leave him be! For Pete’s sake, he’s only a baby!” and other such embarrassments, I tried to understand why I was feeling so – well – bereft is the only word I can think of.

Don’t get me wrong – I think the taster days are a great idea but I’m also hoping they don’t take the excitement away from his September start. Butterfly tummies are de rigeur along with the ill-fitting new blazer aren’t they? He’ll hit the ground running in September and that’s a good thing. So the school he is going to is not the problem.

No, I have a confession to make. Simply put – I don’t want him to grow up. Is that a terrible thing to say? Maybe, but it’s true.

It’s very strange because I didn’t, and don’t, feel that way about my girl. She is almost at womanhood now and I’ve loved watching her blossom from a skinny, gap-toothed stick insect to the lovely young almost-woman she is now. I didn’t panic at puberty with her – I embraced it alongside her and have marvelled at this she-being we have created.

Why, then, do I feel this hideous anxiety over the same lurch towards adulthood in my boy? Is it because he IS a boy? Do I fear what he will become; what he will get up to? I don’t think it’s that. I have always believed he will be far less of a worry to me than the girlchild will ever be. So, no – it’s not that.

There’s certainly some sadness, that “end of an era” feeling that he is leaving primary school and – despite moaning copiously, loudly and long about the actual school itself – it will be odd not to have any reason left to darken the doors of that establishment. I’ve been summarily crap at anything to do with school or PTA events in the past couple of years – am I now regretting not getting more involved?

There is also, for absolute sure, the feeling that I have no more “babies” left at home. He’ll kill me for writing this, being an 11 year-old and nowhere near a baby, but he is my last, my precious youngest and there can be no more. Is it too soon to already feel “empty nest”-ish?

I’m certainly experiencing the strangest bittersweet feeling of getting exactly what I wished for. All those times when, as toddlers, I used to think: “Ooh, one day you’ll stop forcing peas into your ears and grow up!” or “When you’re older, the thought of bending over so far you can look up your own butt will not occur to you!” (although boy-man + beer at some point in the not too distant future may cause a relapse of that one, I suspect).

Whatever happens next, I am totally excited for them both and enthralled to watch as they work their way forward in life. I just hope in all that growing up, the kids that I adore in them both won’t go missing. Its why we – the father figure and I – had them after all. I don’t know anyone who plans to give birth to grown-ups!

Anyone else out there struck by this same malaise?

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