I first tried to leave my family home when I was 18.
After travelling around the continent for four months, I returned.
I’d run out of money and clean socks.
This proved to be a familiar pattern over the next few years.
I left home again when I went to University aged 19.
Ten weeks later, I returned for Christmas, cash and the chance to recline on a reasonably comfortable sofa.
By 23, I was beginning to get Council Tax bills sent to my own address, and had signed on with a doctor who hadn’t known me as a schoolboy.
I was nearly independent and teetering on being a grown up.
But I still talk of ‘driving home for Christmas’ at the tender age of 51.
Our daughter is 19.
We’re helping her buy her first flat and have spent the last few days introducing her to the wonders of IKEA flat pack and how to manage her own bins.
Her younger brothers, like hyenas around a wounded wilder-beast, have begun to eye up her bedroom.
She’s the oldest, so her bedroom is the biggest.
Everyone understands this inalienable law.
Of course her brothers are now claiming that she’s left and has thus surrendered all rights.
She’s not going down without a fight, and negotiations about her occupying the ‘box room and part of the loft’ are currently ongoing.
My wife wants this box room as an office so she can work from home.
Most of us eventually leave home, and set up a household of our own.
According to Google, the average age in the UK for an adult to fully leave home is 25.
I suspect for many of us, this is a gradual journey and may involve quite a lot of toing and froing.
I suspect many of us will be helped out with all sorts of practical, financial and emotional support.
Maybe our Mum and Dads put down a deposit or guaranteed the rent.
Maybe we were given a bit of furniture or had help with some decorating.
Even with the World Wide Web at our fingertips, many of us still defer to aged and sage relatives for sensible domestic advice about carpet purchase and ‘where the stop cock’ may be.
If you’ve grown up in care, you may well not be able to recognise your own experience in this blog.
‘Foster kids don’t leave care, care leaves them’.
I don’t know who first said this, but it does seem to sum up the situation.
If you’re a Foster Carer, you may be nodding whilst simultaneously shrugging.
For many Foster Carers, fostering is their passion but also their profession.
Caring for a child is how they earn their living. Their spare room is an asset that helps them keep the roof over the rest of the house.
Some Foster Carers simply cannot afford to support a young person for whom they get no remuneration, even if they want to.
Our Little Man is not just eyeing up his sister’s recently vacated bedroom.
He’s impressed that she now has her own flat where she can do what she wants, when she wants and with whom she wants.
‘Will this be my flat when I’m 19?’
It’s not an unreasonable question.
Around 10,000 young people in England age out of the care system every year on their 18th birthday.