Empty nester.

IMG_4462 (1)Our son left home last year to go to University.

The Empty nest syndrome is something I see all around. Sad eyed middle aged women getting up like clockwork to put out the endless boxes of cereal to feed the ones who have left. Our body clocks pinging at 4pm and the Pavlovs dogs reaction of shovelling a half hundred weight of biscuits onto plates and producing gallons of juice and milk for the hoards to drink when they descend on the house at 4.30pm on their ways home. Only there are no hoards now. All those muddy kneed rugby playing school boy/men are away. Away to begin their lives without so much as a by your leave for the entrenched routines that having given birth to and brought up a child has riven into the homes and lives which they inhabited. The silence. The tidiness. The thrum of music through the wall from his room replace by the ticking of the kitchen clock. The fridge which remains full and the milk which is still bought in gallons going off.

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Until this very moment you have had not a second to think about it as the toddling becomes totting into school turns to hormones turns to teenage battles turns to exams and then to – well this – the point. To bring up a responsible member of society who can clean his teeth, brush his hair, and be independent. This is a success. This was your job. OK its not full redundancy maybe a fairer term would be voluntary redundancy. It is a new beginning for them so why not you?

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So with that in mind I am slinging my bag over my shoulder, grabbing my sausage dog and am off.  Muffin top, hormonal rollercoaster, bouts of dieting, bouts of drinking, bouts of regret, bouts of hysteria, eruptions of spots, despair, creativity, dunderheidedness, insomnia, grumpiness all accompanied by increasing hairiness in strange places – why the inside of my nose is now tufting up is not something I am either proud of or delighted about – and that’s just the half of it, said the bearded slack jawed lady. Still look on the bright side….at least when Santa retires I might be a shoe-in for the big job.

With car, sausage dog and passport am off. Will report back.

 

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“Gap Years are a waste of time” – ahem – sorry?

Steam, smoke coming out of my ears. Blood pressure risen to dangerous levels. I am not only in high dudgeon am floating well above it and grinding my rapidly diminishing teeth to boot.

The reason The Daily Telegraph. I know I know it’s called the Tory graph for a reason. It’s not the only paper I read but today I was so incensed I dumped the rest and rushed for the laptop when I read this.

“Gap Years are a waste of time, says advertising supremo” by Javier Espinoza, Education Editor.

OK the article is written about a very successful bloke – Sir Martin Sorrell. His claim that “Gap Years are a waste of time” goes on to say that kids who take a year out before continuing with their education are achieving nothing meaningful , that gap years lacked direction, they need to be more focussed and specific.

This is not Harry Enfield. This is Sir Martin Sorrell.
This is not Harry Enfield. This is Sir Martin Sorrell.

Definition of a Gap Year: a period, typically an academic year, taken by a student as a break between school and university or college education._

Definition of a break: a rest, respite, interval, breathing space, lull, recess;

The majority of kids start school 5, some as young as 4 and are relentlessly drilled to learn, to hit targets, to achieve in an ever competitive school environment. School is the official title but as the school day ends often their days continue with extra tutors, music lessons, sports, language learning until eventually these little people fall in an exhausted heap into their homes where, after a brief “break” for their fish fingers and chips, they have to settle down to deal with far too much homework. The self as a developing individual personality being given little or no time or space to emerge.

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Sir Martin Sorrell, putting himself up as the all seeing knowing commentator on such matters as Gap Years according to Wikipedia “is married to Cristiana Falcone. Sorrell was previously married to the American-born Sandra Finestone, with whom he has three sons, but the marriage broke down in 2003, as a result of Sir Martin’s “obsession with work”.

Obsession with work.
Living to work. Not working to live.

So it’s a choice really isn’t it? Some may choose to have balance. Have a life where you expand your horizons and experiences without feeling every moment of every day has to be accounted for in an endless round of point scoring exercises in the pursuit of the betterment of the self to impress potential employers or tart up a CV.

Sir Martin is simply out of kilter. I believe the emphasis is shifting where more value is given to a developed and happy individual as a whole, not just in terms of exams, awards, boxes ticked on an outmoded and outdated list. A list clearly still adhered to by Sir Martin Sorrell, that man in the Ivory tower .

OK steam petering out, jaw no longer clenched, spleen vented. I’m off.

 

PS I have a son. He had a gap year. He came back refreshed, independent, mature and able to settle down to his next stage in life. Best thing he ever did.

 

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