My teenage son does not know what he wants to do and that’s OK. I don’t say that lightly and as a mum I am concerned but I am starting to wonder if us mums don’t worry too much.
My son is 17 and left school last Summer. He was ill for a lot of the year and his results were not a true reflection of his intelligence at all. There were some great results particularly in mathematics and RS. He has mild dyslexia and I have always said he has dyspraxia so her finds writing tiresome and struggles with presentation skills.
When I had my son, I sort of assumed he would be academic like myself. I did not expect him to go to any particular university but I did think he would do GCSES, A-Levels and then a degree. It was the route I took so when it was obvious he was super-intelligent, that’s what I thought would happen. I went to Cambridge and studied Law so maybe that put some undue pressure on him without me even realising it.
I told him he could take a year off after leaving school to work out what he wants to do. This has done him the power of good. He has had time to stop and stare, to play and to relax. I think our schools put far too much pressure on young people these days and then we all throw up our hands in surprise when the country’s children end up with mental health issues.
Then there is the news from friends and family members that their children are doing so well spreading their wings and once again, I think it must be me. I have cocked up and my children will be the victims. I can feel envious and even start disliking heartfelt friends as they crow about their kids on social media.
Of course, it all nonsense! Why should my son know what he wants to do just because that would make my life a bit simpler? In many ways, it is great for me as it means he lives at home and I have his amazing company and a bit (a very bit!) of help around the house. If he is not yet ready to fly the nest, that’s OK. After all so many graduates end up coming home to roost in the end anyway unable to afford anywhere to live and saddled with heaps of debt.
Why do we do this thing right from birth that human beings who are individuals in their own right are expected to hit key milestones at specific times? It just leads so many people to think they are failures and that is a bad message for children and adults alike.
A college/university education guarantees nothing. I have never done particularly well once I decided to leave a legal career behind in a hope I could help poorer and more disadvantaged people. Perhaps some of those people will remember me with affection though and perhaps I made a difference.
My younger brother got less than average results and ended up going to music college as a mature student. He has travelled the word as an opera singer and teacher. This all happened because my parents encouraged my brothers to do amateur dramatics and Ian Wallace happened to visit our Town Hall and hear my brother practising. He told him he had real talent and helped him find a way to give up his job on the local newspaper and to pursue a singing career.
My oldest brother left school with just an 0-Level in woodwork and ended up a merchandiser for Monsoon and a property developer to boot. This is probably because he met his partner.
So often it is not about the exams or the experience but more about who we happen to meet along the way. My Dad was inspired to become a sailor by a relative and walked out of school with no exams whatsoever so he could pursue that dream.
My mother left school with no exams and had the sense to leave factory work behind. Again, when a cook in the nurse’s home at the hospital became ill at Christmas, Mum was in the right place at the right time and took over.
Back to my son. He has suddenly started to show an active interest in discussing what he wants to do. He has no idea really but knows he does not want to do office work or to work with animals. He would like to work with people. I think he would be amazing in any customer-facing role as he is friendly, kind and polite. He does not drink or do drugs. He has a strong belief in fairness and is proud to say he is a feminist whilst also keen to ensure that the recent focus on women’s rights does not lead to an abuse of men. He knows so much about history and politics and keeps saying he would like to make films.
We can worry so much as parents. What if he never makes any money at all? What if he never finds his way? Not that long ago, the worry was would he ever learn to stay dry and eventually we hit that infamous Nativity Play where he stood in the middle of the stage and showed everyone his “Big Boy Pants” with pride.
The reality if in a few years time, I will probably read this post and wonder why I was concerned at all. I took a different route. Maybe he takes after me. I have made my contribution to the world and so will her.
My teenage boy does not know what he wants to do and that’s OK.