Today I delivered son number two, and a ton of gear, to his new student halls in St Andrews for the first time. It was an emotional day.
When kids are little, all parents look for any signs that their children will have what it takes to make their way in the world. The first sign of this for me, was when Lucas learned that he could get what he wanted, not by tantrums, but by persuasion. The boy is a born blagger, and could sell snow to the Eskimos. When he was five, he used to ask to go out in the street to play with friends. He always wanted to be allowed to go further each time. I found myself getting into the habit of saying “Lucas, you can go, but don’t get lost”. He never did. He would say “Dad, I won’t go far away, and if I come back on time, you can trust me more next time”. This never stopped, and when he was around 13 he said, “Dad, I know all the streets for miles around, you know I’m not going to get lost”. I answered, “Lucas, what I mean is that I want you to never lose your way, get led astray, or not be able to find your way back home”. He knew what I meant, and I’ve been saying it since.
Lucas couldn’t go to Uni straight after 6th year. A serious illness put him in hospital for 6 weeks during the school exams, and he lost almost 3 stones in weight. There was a serious chance he might have to have his colon removed, but the heavy duty steroids thankfully kicked in eventually. On his first night in hospital, a man across the ward moaned and screamed for hours, and was dead by morning. Not great for an 18 year old. The ward was full of old people, many of them senile. I visited every day, and don’t mind saying I had a wee cry for him each time I returned to my car. If he wasn’t convinced of a career in medicine already, then perversely, this definitely confirmed it.
So this year my wee boy starts studying medicine, in a place that has produced doctors since 1413 (600 years). We had floods of tears from his mum, as we drove off, and I thought, “get a grip woman”. After unloading everything at his student halls, and setting up his computer, it was time for me to leave. I told him I loved him and said once again, “Lucas, don’t get lost”. He knew what I meant. “Don’t worry Dad” he replied, “I won’t go far away”.