We were not at home when our student son arrived, on Friday afternoon for his first weekend visit, after starting university. My husband was working in Birmingham, on Friday and Saturday of last week, so we were staying at my parents' house, in the Midlands.
By the time we arrived home, late Saturday afternoon, student son had already done most of his washing. I wasn't sorry about that, particularly when I found out that it had been his friend Lucy's idea to come home that weekend, so that their respective mothers could do their washing! Student son had first met Lucy when they were attending for interview at another university. They had discovered that they lived quite close to each other, and, by sheer coincidence, had met up again in their tutor group, on their current course.
I dutifully began to help my son with the rest of his washing, drying and ironing, shortly after arriving home and things were back to normal for 24 hours or so. Student son had caught up with his friends on Friday evening, so he spent the remainder of Saturday watching the cricket, football and rugby on the television. I got up early on Sunday morning, so that we could enjoy a roast beef dinner together, before he embarked upon his return journey to university.
All too soon, we were heading for the railway station, in the car, and I began to think back to a couple of weeks ago, when my son had suddenly become anxious, as the time to begin his university course had loomed closer. At one point, he had insisted that he would not go to university unless he passed his driving test, because he wanted to be able to travel home at weekends in his car. I had worried that maybe he wasn't ready to leave home, perhaps he should have worked for a year, or perhaps I had been over-protective, in some way, which had resulted in his sudden loss of confidence. I had become concerned, because he seemed to be looking back, instead of forward, and I had worried that he would be unable to settle.
As it happened, student son had passed driving his test, but had been persuaded to leave his car at home, because of parking difficulties on campus, and, as far as I could tell, he now seemed to be coping very well with life away from home. He appeared to be getting on famously with the other students sharing his kitchen, and was keeping company with Lucy and a second girl in his tutor group.
I came back to the present as we pulled up on the station car park, about 10 minutes before the train was due to leave. We walked over to the front of the station with student son, as he rang Lucy, to check that she was on her way. When she confirmed that she would be arriving shortly, my husband turned to me and asked whether we should wait and meet her.
I asked my son what he wanted us to do, but he shuffled from one foot to the other, and replied that he really didn't mind, one way or the other. I searched his face for some indication of his true feelings on the matter, and I concluded that he wanted to wait for Lucy alone. We gave him a quick hug and I kissed his neck, as he had grown too tall for me to reach his cheek. I looked into his face, as we backed away, preparing to leave. He said goodbye, then, as he turned to look towards the car park entrance, I saw his expression change and I realised, without even looking, that Lucy had arrived. In that instant, as I watched him, watching Lucy, I understood that we were no longer centre stage in his life. We were about to play a smaller part. He was looking forward. He was moving on.
We turned and quickly walked to our car. I glanced over towards the car park entrance, glimpsing a pretty dark-haired girl emerging from a car, and smiling in my son's direction. I hoped that there would be other opportunities to meet Lucy, as soon as my son was ready. We drove out of the car park and merged with the oncoming traffic, without looking back.
A good bit of gossip
13 hours ago