My eldest was away last week on a school trip and it hasn’t gone unnoticed that this is what it’s going to be like when he goes to university in September. Every time I came out of my bedroom I looked down the landing at his neatly made, un-slept-in bed. The thought that I will be doing this every day for maybe 100 mornings straight over a semester did not escape my attention (he is going to the USA so no shorter UK terms). I cleaned and tidied his room in preparation for his return, half because my OCD side was desperate to get in there and thrown away used plasters, empty deodorant cans and dirty t-shirts and the other half as a reminder of how great home is (so probably selfish on both counts).

But if I am brutally honest with myself it’s not been ALL bad –

  • The house has been much quieter and calmer. In fact the only two dramas we had all week have revolved around him. I was able to make my morning cuppa at 6.30am without having to jostle for position at the kettle, be berated that I have bought the wrong type of bacon or be splattered with scrambled egg that’s being stirred a little too enthusiastically.
  • teaThere was actually food available when you opened the cupboard or fridge. The competition to grab the best grub (House Rule no.1 – you snooze, you lose) evaporated and the three of us relaxed in the knowledge that the Ben & Jerry’s may actually still be in the freezer in three days time.
  • Not having to listen to constant debates about how long youngest has been on the PS4 and now it’s eldest’s turn. This debate has RAGED in our house for probably 6 years now and it is beyond tedious. I don’t care if you have just bought an expansion pack and are on the verge of starting the French Revolution or if the nitrous in your rally car is about to run out rendering you out of NASCAR 2015. I try to stay out of this particular sibling disagreement for the very real fear that I will dump the £400 machine in the bin. I take the line that learning to negotiate is a great life skill.
  • The laundry went gone down so much I kept going back to check the wash basket only to stare down into it and sometimes even see the bottom. Our laundry basket generally resembles one of my favourite Ladybird books when I was a child – The Magic Porridge Pot. Constantly overflowing however much you take out. Oh and the kitchen no longer resembled an industrial laundry or athlete’s locker area.

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  • I had a break from his ‘life-min’ (life admin) for a week. With A levels coming up, driving tests, rowing races, university – the paperwork and diary dates are reaching peak flow and it’s been a relief to take a break from this unpaid, unappreciated part-time PA job.

I missed him of course and we communicated via WhatsApp with me trying to tease more than a monosyllable out of him to actually get some resemblance of a conversation going. Although, if everything really was ‘fine’ then I guess I should be happy. I know the real challenge is looming ahead. I don’t want all the thousands of small threads that bind us together to be eroded by distance but a few golden moments of peace when I am not hanging up wet kit, debating the size of porridge oats or listening to the Call of Duty will be much appreciated.

When your teenager has been away what have you secretly enjoyed the most? M

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