Last exit to summer
Last exit to summer
Parent24 Editor, Scott Dunlop

Last week Hannah created a one-page calendar listing all the days until the end of the school year. Each day she has been crossing them off with undisguised elation. As for me, I’m doing that dazed “where did THAT year go?” thing that parents do at this time of year. And we’ve still got end-of-year functions and parties to get through. Then, for most of us, we’ll have a summer holiday to enjoy!

Some of you are sharing your children’s anxiety about exams, especially if you’re trying to stare down Matric finals. After that, your kid will no longer be a scholar/learner/pupil (or whatever government suggests is the correct word this season). It’s farewell to childhood, and, if your kids are anything like the way I was at that age, hello to phrases like “I’m an adult now!” and even “you can’t tell me what to do anymore!” (Those are closely followed by “I need some money…”

We don’t stop being parents when our kids leave school. Most adult children don’t leave home until much later in life than previously. They may wait until they’re married or they have saved up enough to buy their own properties. Some NEVER leave.

That means as parents we’re not just trying to herd them carefully through primary school and high school, but we’re going to have to figure out ways of being parents to adult children. Being friends with them enough to stay in their lives while being safe enough for them to come to us for advice.

Our financial responsibilities may be extended, too. After all, the cost of living is often too high for young adult to be independent, even with a full-time job. It may be a good idea to plan ahead for this, not just in terms of finances, but how to negotiate rules: Will you charge your kid rent? What will your child contribute towards the running of the household? Will you insist your post-school kid gets a job?

I’m getting ahead of myself…My kids are still safely tucked away in the bosom of their school careers, and looking forward to a summer of sunblock and splashing in whatever water they can find.

For little ones it’s easy to wish for time to pass, and the wait between birthdays is an exquisite agony. For me, I’m happy to slow time down. I’m already thinking about how much the school fees will go up for the next year, and whether or not the uniforms will last another season. I’m on parent time, not kid time.

So children have a season of exams and testing, but parents go through it all the time and we don’t always have a happy holiday at the end. We have to stay one step ahead, revising for the next big challenge. Our reward? When our children become adults we can admire, sometimes not as a result of our parenting, but in spite of it!

We wish all of you strength for this last part of the year whether it drags or flies, and as much optimism as a 7-year-old child dreaming up a list of birthday presents.

Why not tell us what your idea of a perfect summer is? You could win a R250 voucher! Email

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