It’s Saturday lunchtime and the flat is quiet – almost too quiet. Bryan is at a birthday party today (playing in a Games Vault van full to the brim of computer games and bright flashing lights), so I have a quiet period in the middle of the day; something unusual, so I’ll make the most of it by writing my column and having some peace and quiet.
The summer holidays have now officially started, and things are different than the last couple of years; things are now open, we’re not restricted to the groups we can or can’t stay in, and Bryan isn’t going back to the same school in September. His farewells at Bromstone were sad and genuine; he has made some very good friends during the past three and a half years, and I’m glad that some of them will be going to the same secondary school. He will inevitably (and sadly) lose touch with others, and that is the nature of the beast; it happened to me when I moved schools (many years ago), and I’m sure each reader of this column will have their own memories of the same thing.
But in the meantime, we have a lovely break to look forward to; we’re catching up with his siblings a couple of times during the holidays, going on a trip to London, and just enjoying some chilled time together. We’ll also arrange a couple of play dates with his friends, and I might even get to see a couple of my own friends as well (that would be nice); as Bryan grows up and starts to get more independent, he’ll be off out doing his own thing some more, so I want to make this last – and, I hope, it might encourage him to want to spend time with me even when he’s older.
I’m not precious about things like that; I didn’t become a dad in order to have a life-long companion, that would be crazy. Bryan is his own person, and he has the security of knowing that I will always be here for him – as well as knowing that he has the freedom to explore his own identity and decide what he wants to be when he’s older, as well as exploring his own identity now. I love spending time with this amazing young man, and I also love watching him run off with his friends; it shows that he is more secure and comfortable in his skin than he was as a younger child, and that he trusts me to always be around and be a safe person in his life. That’s a pleasure I have as a parent, to see my son grow emotionally and intellectually.
I’ve recently bought him some new furniture for his room and arranged for it to get built next week (I couldn’t face doing the flat-pack build myself; I can do small stuff, but the thought of building a desk or wardrobe filled me with absolute dread); it’s definitely a lot more grown up and “teenager-y” than what he has in there at the moment, and I’m both excited to see him grow into his next phase and sad to see an old phase slowly be left behind. When he first walked in through the front door and walked straight away into his bedroom, I knew he was going to settle in so quickly – and indeed he has.
Organising furniture removal and buying new things has been intense over the last few weeks, but also lovely; it’s funny to think of there still being “firsts” with my son after we’ve lived together for more than three years. But this total revamp of his room has been done in consultation with him; previously, I had to set up his bedroom in a style I thought he might like – and he has done, but this time, he gets to express himself and put his own stamp on the bedroom. I’m delighted that we still get these firsts even now, because it allows me to get a glimpse further into his mind and soul … and gives him a sense of control over something that is “his”; his bedroom.
Being adopted, we’ve had to mark these milestones in our own way and at our own time; that word – adoption – doesn’t often feature in our vocabulary anymore, but it still features in our life. Our future and our present still must acknowledge his past, and – sometimes, occasionally, from time-to-time – he might react to something in a particular way because of that past. That’s the way he is, and he gets nothing but unconditional love from me … boundaries, too, but love first and foremost.