Having older siblings - a sister (8 years older) and a brother (6 years older) - meant that he was always trying to be like them - he followed them as far as he could but I always tried to define the boundaries so that the older children got some time on their own with their peers. Even to this day, he always tries to "hang" with his brother's friends because they are so much older (15 and 16) and cooler. I've tried to explain that it's a form of flattery but the teenagers don't quite understand that, but they tolerate him.
Anyway, he's now 10 years old, in the top class at his primary school, is a pleasant boy (most of the time), tries to control his ADHD and is desperate for a bit of "freedom".
Tonight I have allowed him to go swimming, ON HIS OWN, with two friends. FOR THE FIRST TIME! He's been with his big brother previously or with the family but never without supervision!!! He phoned me at work about two minutes after getting home from school, had his bag packed three minutes later and had rounded up two friends for me to taxi to the leisure centre. I dropped him at the door with STRICT instructions - (1) Stay Together (2) If you're going on the "Alien Slide" Stay Together (3) If ANYONE gets kicked out, phone me IMMEDIATELY and Stay Together (4) DO NOT talk to ANYONE in the changing rooms, DO NOT run around the changing rooms and Stay Together. I think I may have got the message across because he slammed the car door, waved me off and ran, excitedly with his friends, to queue up. He has money for hot chocolate afterwards and I've to pick him up at nine o'clock.
It was all I could do not to hover around, in disguise, and keep an eye on him. He's my "baby" - my youngest one. This is the last one to take all these "first steps" and also the last time I'll see one of my children take these "first steps". He's never been one for being mollycoddled and has always been up for a bit of adventure but I didn't expect to feel this emotional.... or nervous, excited, a little bit sick, and watching the clock ready for 8.45pm when I have to set off to pick him up.