When they are babies and you lift them from the cot they cling to you, tiny, chubby fists gripping the shoulders of your shirt. When they become toddlers they run to cling to your legs, head-butting you in the process in painful places. When they are afraid they need hugs from you, when they meet strangers they hide behind you, staring shyly around your knees.
But when they are playful they run away, giggling gleefully as you chase them, happy in the knowledge that you will catch them. (By running away I do not mean filling a toy suitcase with necessities such as toys, taking your toddler brother by the hand, and announcing that you are leaving home, and anyway I apparently always gave up before I got to the front gate).
They slowly move more and more away. They find schoolmates, go to parties and sleep-overs. A morning comes, a surprisingly hurtful morning, when they announce that they would rather walk into the school themselves. Eventually they go somewhere most days with friends, or reply to the question “where are you going?” with the reply “out”.
They are growing up, and growing away.
Tomorrow morning Tinson1 will leave to go to North Carolina.
It’s an exchange program with Wake Forest University, where he will take part in some Physics project to do with solar panels. He will only be gone for three months, though those three months will include a special birthday of Mrs Tin’s (the one and only mention that I will ever make of this birthday here) and his own twenty-first.
(I say, by the way, that he will be back after three months, although having seen where the College are putting him up it’s hard to see why he would).
I hope he has a wonderful time, that he meets wonderful friends with whom he will stay in touch forever. We will miss him, his cheerfulness, his earnestness, his caring and friendly manner, but we know that these qualities are the ones that will make him popular over there, and help to ensure that he has a tremendous, life-changing experience.
I’ve shown the picture below before, but it sums up today, as he strides across the sands, one heel lifted as he takes steps away, but still looking back to us, smiling.
Have a super time, son. We love you, and are, as always, more proud of you than we can say.