Column: The hungry student who came to tea . . .

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That's it, I'm officially old. My teenage son turned 20 last weekend. I have to admit that he’s no longer a teenager and that life is flashing by me at lightning speed. It doesn't seem two minutes ago that he was in nappies instead of wearing skinny jeans. Once he was happiest dressed in babygros, but now it’s band T-shirts or charity shop shirts. Playgroups are a thing of the past. Today, it’s wall-to-wall music festivals along with his pals. Instead of helping as a school monitor, this summer he’s volunteering for Oxfam at Glastonbury. It seems like only yesterday it was fruit shoots with his mates down the ball pit, but now it's more likely to be vodka shots at the bar. Bear in the Big Blue house has been replaced by big blue pints (don’t ask!) consumed down some sticky-floored nightclub. As a kid he used to spin Beyblades. Now he's more likely to be spinning vintage vinyl on a turntable. Gone are the days of Thomas the Tank engine, because now he’s a student. As a result, he's more likely to be getting tanked up with his mates, watching football down the bar. Bedtime reading once consisted of Barney's Alphabet Soup. Now he's a second-year English literature student, so his reading tastes are somewhat more refined. He’s more likely to have his well-read nose stuck in a classic novel. Whereas once we practised the phonetic alphabet, he's now writing two-thousand word essays on subjects and books so complex that I wouldn't have a hope of trying to understand them. Hot wheels have been replaced by real wheels and cars he can drive, and the Tiger Who Came to Tea book has been overtaken by the real-life student who came to tea...and ate us out of house and home. Think of the hungry caterpillar but with a more ferocious appetite.

For his 20th birthday, we went out for a family meal, and enjoyed a birthday cake followed by a few pints. It seems strange that the stroppy, blonde-haired toddler, who once dramatically threw himself down on the floor in Woolworths (in an Oscar-winning performance after he was denied a third go on the train ride) is now a responsible young man. He is both knowledgeable and political, with a sharp mind, yet kind and considerate.

It doesn’t seem two minutes ago he was in nappies instead of wearing skinny jeans.

To be honest, like many others I always felt I was winging it as a mother. After all, kids don't come with a manual. But somehow, and in spite me, he's turned out to be lovely young man, who I am proud to call my son.