Tuesday, August 19, 2008

All grown up

Our oldest has left home, all six foot 18 years of him. He began his tertiary experience at the beginning of the year and so far we have only seen him once, during his semester break, when he flew out to Singapore for 10 days. A couple of weeks after he left we moved to Cambodia. His experience of where we live now has so far come from google earth and pieced together from emails and MSN with his brother. He actually left a few years ago when he began his 10th year at school, the year kids in New Zealand begin their trudge through the national exam system. We were living in Samoa at the time and the school just wasn’t the best option for a deaf child who has dreams of building robots so B went back to NZ and became a boarder. He took it hard for about 5 minutes then picked up his newly discovered and conveniently packed freedom, shook himself vigorously and leapt towards manhood.

I wasn’t so lucky. I had known that when we let him go it would happen but I still wasn’t prepared. I don’t think you can be really prepared but for me it was particularly hard. As the mother of a deafie I had, until boarding school in another country intervened, had quite a lot to do with B’s everything. Years of IEPs and a personal relationship with his Itinerant Teacher meant not a lot slipped past me. Now I wouldn’t even know who his teachers were, the kids in his class, what he was really up to when he said he was going for a bike ride.

B, unlike his brother, isn’t a talker so to understand what he was/is feeling you have to use non verbal clues, clues I wasn’t going to be able to see everyday anymore. I was going to have to learn to rely on his teachers, housemaster, my sister and mother and try and get B to open up via the internet sometimes. They, especially my mother and sister, were going to have to learn to see the clues, pick the changes in behaviour and learn to relate them to things that were going on in Bs life, things he wasn’t going to openly tell anyone about. This wasn’t and still isn’t easy as B, like many deafies, has a thick exterior that exudes hakuna matata , a protective shell that shields him from a judgemental society overly dependent on labels and from the fact he knows he is missing out, he is spending a lot of time guessing and is constantly scanning our non verbal cues to figure out what we are saying.

He did it, he made it all the way through school and whether or not he manages to make it through his chosen tertiary course he should be proud of how far he has come. People often comment that B doesn’t behave deaf and he doesn’t. He is confident, self assured and worldly wise. He manages airports with ease and new situations with poise. Every time we see him he is more grown up, we see a new B, an evolved B. My dad once told me that we wouldn’t know how good a job we had done of our parenting until our kids were independent adults, people we wanted to know, people we chose to be around, so I guess we did do a good job...whew!!!


Simple Answer said...

Wow. I haven't had to let go of my babies. You're a great example.

Tanya said...

I dont know if I can say Ive let go totally but Ive learnt to step back and trust that he'll be ok. So far so good! I feel weird just saying that too.

Lynda said...

We left one of ours back in Australia to finish her studies... she turns 21 next month!! How fast does the time go past... Took me a while to make peace with the idea of her living so far away, but now I am cool with it... and I love SKYPE.. she claims I love it because I get to tell her to 'get a haircut!".

Connie said...

Oh my! Big step! Mine are still little and I am not sure if I will be as brave as you sound.

Tanya said...

we have just downloaded skype!! had to go to a cafe to do it (slow patchy internet connection be damned) what a nice excuse for a bit of aircon and some good cappuchino!
oh and to those of you who think Im brave for letting go it wasnt my choice I was dragged kicking and screaming...I hope that still makes me brave??!!