My youngest child (the 6’5″ one) is off to university and it’s going to be the end of an era for me. My last baby to leave the nest (temporarily I hope) before coming back to live at home for a few years whilst getting his foot on the ladder of life and eating all my food.
I’m feeling super emotional and have turned into one of those people who keep saying “where has the time gone?”….he was this size only a few years ago:-
As this will be my third experience of waving a child off to university, I thought he might appreciate being the recipient of a letter including my Rules For Living (at university). I know he won’t read them, let alone pay attention to them, but never mind….that hasn’t stopped me before:-
I will miss you more than you will ever know, but it’s the right time for you to spread your wings a little further. Your gap year has helped you mature and now you are ready for a new challenge. With luck, university will be a better place for you than school, which definitely wasn’t your thing. You were never good with rules, so this space for learning will hopefully encourage you to start appreciating accumulating knowledge and help you find your feet. There will be no more towels and clothes on the floor for me to pick up anymore and no HUGE shoes by the door. I will be able to see your bedroom floor again. But one should always be careful what you wish for because now I will miss those towels on the floor, knowing that you were safely at home.
You have always been your own person, never towing the line or being told what to do. As your mother, I’m not gonna lie, this has had it’s challenges and whilst I have always believed in you, at times, it hasn’t been easy…but you know that. You have always questioned everything, the sign of an original thinker – what better place could you be moving to in order to carry on doing that?
Enjoy the freedom. I won’t be there to nag you, cajole you, wake you up, drag you to college, make you go to bed or eat something healthy, drink some water – you will be your own boss and you will have to look after yourself. It’s great being a grown up – no one to tell you what to do – you can stay up all night and party, but you are now the responsible one, so you can also choose to take care of yourself. Please try not to spend your weekly food allowance on unhealthy substances and be mindful that Fresher’s Flu is an actual thing, so remember to pace yourself. You’ve just had the meningitis jab for students, but make sure you know the symptoms anyway and take those Vitamin C tablets I’ve bought you.
My parental advice wouldn’t be complete without several horror stories about being in bars and getting into fights in the city where you will be. One fight I heard about meant a boy ended up with a glass eye after being hit round the head with a wheel-lock and the key went straight into his eye. Walk away and know the signs. Look after your friends and always stick together.
This next stage is essentially the snooze button on your phone alarm of life and will allow you the luxury of time, something you won’t get when you start working. This time is for you. Just let it be the place where you have time to think, play football for three more years, chill (to a degree), sleep late, party (not too hard), make life long friends and open your eyes to new possibilities. You will learn how to live, not necessarily how to support yourself, but that will come. Please remember that your student loan is not free money and try and work out a budget.
Basically that is my only rule, but I have a few more to think about…so in no particular order:-
Don’t spend all your student finance in the first week on a round the world ticket
Clean your teeth
Wear a condom
Go to your lectures – the first year does count
Make lots of friends
Keep up with the work
Don’t worry if you make mistakes, just ensure you resolve them and remember to ask for help if you need it
Look out for others that might need help
Be your own advisor
Trust your intuition
Get enough sleep
Do some exercise
Do your best
Be a good friend
Join the football team (hopefully this won’t involve an initiation, if it does be careful/clever about it)
Don’t do drugs (this is the most unrealistic thing a parent can say, universities are rife with them, but I’m saying it anyway)
Stay away from potentially harmful situations (see above)
Don’t forget to call me occasionally or even better, invite me down to take you out for dinner!
Be happy and safe and I hope you love every moment (but if you don’t let me know, we will work it out).
I am so, so proud of you for getting yourself to this point in your life – it makes me wish your Grandfather was still alive, he would have felt the same.