|Max with his ute when he gained his "L" plates... independence just one short year away.|
A disturbing event occurred in my life last year… back in August 2015, my eldest son, Max, graduated from learner driver on "L" plates to probationary driver on "P" plates. Unbeknown to me, those little plastic square plates with a bright, red “P” stamped on them would change our family dynamics and herald a new chapter in my parenting life.
With a weekend job bringing in a handy income and an old Ford ute bought from his uncle, suddenly Max was independent. No longer did he have to rely on me to get him where he wanted to go.
I found the change unsettling.
After years of single parenting, I was used to calling the shots, making the decisions and making things happen in general. Overnight I had to adapt to relaxing my control, trust Max to make good decisions and hope like hell my way of parenting had laid a solid foundation for Max to step out into the adult world.
Just as I was adapting to having an independent teenager in the house, Max upped the ante in December by announcing his intention to leave school before finishing Year 12, got himself a job three hours away and promptly left home.
It’s a cliché, I know, but it really does seem like only yesterday I was teaching Max to ride his pushbike without training wheels or holding his hand to cross the street.
Next month Max turns eighteen and to celebrate this milestone, the two of us are heading off on an excellent adventure for a week or so. Realistically, I see it as the last opportunity I have to kidnap him and spend time together, just the two of us, before he disappears completely into that exciting, parent-free world that is young adulthood.
Instead of shouting him a party or giving him a material present, my gift to Max will be some lifetime memories that (hopefully) won’t give him a hangover or be discarded at the bottom of his wardrobe.