They grow up. They leave. They want to head off into the big wide world and leave behind the familiar safe comforts of home. The nest is suddenly too small to house their enthusiastic ambition. They say their goodbyes and head off into the brave new world.
I have been like a father to my student neighbours this year.
I have watched over them, my head shaking, as they have dumped enough beer cans and bottles on their front lawn to fill a landfill site the size of Wales.
I have laughed scornfully at their appalling dress sense, their idiotic facial hair furniture (ignoring my own) and the bizarre sound-bite posters they put on show in their bedroom windows.
I have gnashed my teeth and seethed through sleepless nights when the vibrations and noise from their industrial strength subwoofer has threatened to frack my entire street into Roman mosaic sized rubble. I have not understood their music. I have bewailed the tunelessness of it, the lyric ridiculousness; I have compared the endless beat and twisted synth moans to the meaningless noise emitted by a hippopotamus farting into a vuvuzela. It’s not proper music. Not like the music I used to listen to when I was their age; music that had a proper melody and lyrics that meant something that my dad nevertheless dismissed as meaningless noise.
I have shuddered every time they have slammed the front door, stomped up and down the stairs at all hours of the night and conducted loud and ebullient conversations about “how much beer, yeah, they can drink, yeah, in one sesh at the pub and still have room for a kebab, yeah, you get me?” at 4 effing a.m. in the morning.
Lord knows I’ve loved them. Lord knows I want the best for them given the amount of time, money and effort I have invested into their upbringing and education. But now that they are going, God forgive me, I can’t help but think “thank Christ, thank God it’s over”.
I wish them well. Of course I do. I wish them every success in whatever hare-brained pursuit they decide to follow.
But I consider my job to be done. I’m cutting the apron strings. I don’t want to see them back. Not ever. I’ll change the locks if I have to.
Go forth. Be men, my sons.
Go get some student kids of your own.
And then suffer as I have suffered, you little shits.