I am sure that I am not alone when I say I can’t get my head around the senseless loss of life at Sandy Hook Elementary. As a father, it sends a further chill down the spine. My heart goes out to all affected and my thoughts are with the families…
It got me thinking. Every day, as most parents, I pack young Ollie off for a long period of time. I have to trust the system, trust my boy and trust the world where we live. I don’t really know what he does, who he speaks to, how he behaves or who he interacts with. He then has to make his way home and spend time waiting for me to return from work.
Upon my return, there are some blanks filled in, but largely, his days are filled with one word answers. It was “good”, It was “fine” (I hate that word!), It was the “same”. As parents, we trust that, whilst he is in the system, no real harm will come to him. I guess its expected that at some point, he may be bullied. At some point, some kid may take a swing at him, or say something hurtful. Or even the other way round.
In the grand scheme of things, especially in light of what has happened in the USA, these simply pass as mere character building, or rights of passage as we go through early life and into adulthood. There is no real other way. Well, I suppose there is, but home schooling is perhaps not for everyone.
As a parent, we have to learn let go. We don’t want to, but we know we have to even though it doesn’t come naturally. I have to trust that I have done enough as a parent to enable Young Ollie to grow in “his” way. I remember vividly the time Ollie demanded to be allowed to walk to the corner shop alone. In his head, he did it alone, in reality, he was never aware he was followed.
Just out of sight, just enough to let him have the feeling he wanted and me to have the peace of mind. Of course, over time, you begin to take things for granted. Over time, confidence that they can handle themselves grows and I guess if I am honest, there are times I switch off. Young Ollie wanders to the shop now and I don’t blink an eye.
In time, it will be solo trips to town, before progressing to Leeds – just as I did as a kid. Of course, that’s how it should be. In a perfect world, all kids would find themselves and grow. Yet Its easy sometimes to get wrapped up in your own issues and forget that we live in a far from perfect world. I can’t be everywhere with Ollie and I need to let him grow.
Not many people know I lost my brother when he was Ollies age. A routine family trip that ended in heartbreak. One moment in time where the eye was taken off the ball and disaster struck. As a parent, I don’t know if anything is worse than that. I am not sure my parents ever recovered. Honestly, until Young Ollie came along, I am not sure I ever understood.
As I go along, I find that history has a tendency of repeating when we least expect it to. These events have perhaps refocused me as a parent. Ensuring as much as I can that no harm will come to my boy, the centre of my world. Easy to say, difficult to do in so many ways. I don’t want to smother him, I don’t want him not to find his own way.
I want Ollie to stride out into the world and make it his own. I want him to be his own man, make his own rules and find a place in this world that he is comfortable with. I will never be scared or afraid to let him go, but if I am honest, I am sometimes scared I will lose him like my parents lost Alan. With that in mind, as todays song says, I am making a deal to “stay awake”.
The song is called “Golden Child”. There are a few versions of this song knocking around, including the final recorded version. However, this was from Neils gig at the Scala in London. Not the best venue in the world, but this was a new song and a definite highlight. Its an audience recording too and I really should use more of them, they capture the nights so much better.
“You dance around it, the Golden Child, you try to hold it, but he slips right out of your arms.”