I am already dreading my son leaving home this year | BBC Radio Solent's Alun Newman

I have spoken to a lot of parents on-air, who claim that the pandemic has given them some precious 'bonus' time with their children.

Tuesday, 6th April 2021, 11:01 am
Alun is feeling emotional about his son leaving for university.

I’ve spoken to others who feel that the precious time has definitely come to an end.

One lady I spoke to on-air said that the past year had given her time with her son that she never thought possible. He was off to university but pushed that back a year.

She went on to say the particular gift of this extra year was that she didn’t have to share her son with anyone. He couldn’t disappear with friends on wild holiday ideas, he couldn’t slide off to the pub, and even the girlfriend had an exclusion zone.

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For this caller, it was fantastic and a gift she never expected. What an amazing parent.

I’m far more intolerant. I was on a Zoom call with my sister and her husband. They’re working from home with two young children (a girl and a boy. Boy is adventurous).

Through the pain of gritted teeth, she spoke about her last year. I put forward that the time was precious.

In no uncertain terms, she explained that there will never be a moment when she says ‘I wish I’d spent more time with my children’.

I bet there will be but I was too scared to point that out as she was clutching a glass of chardonnay and a king-size Twix. Those are both warning signs to brothers. Step away. They’re close to the edge.

For me, it’s been an emotional mixed bag.

What I do know is that one of my children is due to go to university in September and when I think about it, I could make myself cry, right now.

I’m caught in an emotional no man's land.

At times, he’s driven me round the bend and I’ve dreamed of him ‘spreading his wings’.

At other moments I’ve loved watching Formula One and asking the eternal question: ‘Where’s all my beer gone.’

Couple that with ‘who ate all the... (add any carbohydrate, savoury or sweet).

However, that ‘leaving’ moment is approaching like so many parents before me.

I had the bonus year. I had this remarkable, worrying, challenging experience with my family around me.

I’m one of the lucky ones. It feels like I’m being two people.

One of me thinks that he needs to go to become an adult, take responsibility and make decisions he’s happy with.

The other version of me is like an extremely-anxious paramedic who wants to keep everyone safe. I sometimes think nothing can go wrong if I’m in control and what if we had just one more year altogether.

One of my best friends, who’s been through this many times, said this: ‘We [parents] will always treat them like children. Even when we try not to, we hawk with advice and solutions.’

This I have found quite comforting. I’m still a way off yet but I feel the tears are brewing.

He does not like colourful, over the top displays of emotions.

If anything, he was made out of the Chris Whitty (Chief Medical Officer – ‘next slide please’) mould. He is pragmatic, rational and detailed. I’m sadly not from that mould.

When we drop him off, I will not be able to drive home.

He’ll be able to see me from the university accommodation in floods of tears, stuck in the car park.

On that note, I think my wife will have to drive.

Texting myself really backfired…

I struggle to remember what day it is, let alone what I did yesterday.

I would say that it’s changed as I’ve got older but many of my school years were spent daydreaming, while looking out of the window.

When you work in radio and you speak for hours each day, it’s important to capture those moments and ideas that might be useful.

With this in mind, for many years, I have texted myself.

Any thought, funny incident, possible idea, I send myself a text.

To add to this, I also text myself things I have to do. Items to collect on the way home, bills that need to be paid – that sort of thing.

Recently, I had a collection of ideas, items and jobs that were on the list.

I fired these away, into the cloud, or wherever they go. Usually, you then see a text on your phone.

For days last week, I fired off messages and reminders until I realised I had inadvertently been messaging the text reminder service of my local dentist.

I had sent more than 12 messages before someone at Crest Orthodontics messaged back saying: ‘Alun, I don’t know if you intended to do this but we’ve received a high number of messages from you. Including the need for you to pay Bev in the BBC canteen.

‘I’m sure these are not for us. Many thanks.’

I was very embarrassed.

I soon replied, awkwardly: ‘I'm so sorry. Those messages were meant for me. Please don’t worry. I’ll pay Bev.’

Even in the throws of great admin, I messed it up.

I sent myself a text.