The end is nigh, we’ve got the unenviable task of directing our oldest boy in completing his holiday journal, reflecting on the favourite moments of his summer. This got me thinking – what would mine be? We’ve all had a good time, it’s true. There were times when I thought it might be a bit of a disaster I admit, but coming towards the end of the school holidays I feel incredibly sad that our riotous time together at home is at an end for another year. We are so lucky to have it – I see friends expertly coordinating childcare over the summer, like sergeant majors preparing to enter battle considering risk, collateral damage, calling in favours from allies… when I think that I struggled to get us out of the house before 11am without actually threatening to start a war, I feel really guilty.
I have managed to be late, every time we have gone anywhere.
I have eaten too much.
I have definitely drunk too much (- you know who you are.)
I have managed to fall out with my children at least once a day.
I have let them watch far too much television (I realised this when I heard them rehearsing a rendition of the advert for Wowcher – I hang my head in shame).
But I’m going to miss the mornings in our dressing gowns, the introduction of ‘brunch’ – wide-eyed, unblinking faces “There’s a meal between breakfast and lunch?!” I’m going to miss laughing into the small hours with those friends I only get to see in the golden month of August (I see them throughout the year of course, but August, teacher friends, is immense.) I’m going to miss the lovely evenings I’ve spent with my husband instead of planning/marking/finding semi-nutritious ingredients for lunchboxes that my children won’t refuse to eat. But all good things come to an end and it hasn’t totally been plain sailing…
Things I am not going to miss:
You know the one. It’s hard to describe it, but if you’re a parent, you’re already gritting your teeth and rocking, if you’ve spent anytime with my children over the summer, you’ll be rolling your eyes in remembered irritation and nodding. Luckily, the baby has not quite mastered it yet, so we only have children to contend with. The voice can make an appearance at any time, over any issue for any given length of time. I think the record for my son is about 3 days solid following a late night. The voice is the whinge, the moan, the grating, pull your ears off to avoid it pitch used whenever either of my older children are:
1. Asked to do something they don’t want to. “I don’t like tidying up, I always have to tidy up. Tidying up is the worst thing you ever make me do”
2. Displeased about something someone else has done. “I was just sat, not doing anything and she hit me over the head with the remote and laughed in my face. Then when I told her I was going to tell you, she laughed again and said ‘good, she won’t even care!'” Shameful confession – once I heard him tell me this in the voice, I cared a lot less.
3. Sensing their mother is close, so close to the edge and determined to chip away until she cracks spectacularly (and usually in public). “I hate queuing. All we ever do it queue. You never do anything fun with us!” That will forever be known as The Waitrose Telling Off (“Do you want me to have a chat like The Waitrose Telling Off? Do you?!”)
Son: What’s the plan mum?
Me: The plan?
Son: You know – what are we doing today?
Me: Supermarket, bank, make a big lasagne, try not to spend any money
Son: (using the voice) That’s not a plan. That’s the worst idea I’ve ever heard.
*First argument with son of the day begins
I think my oldest daughter has aspirations to be a cage fighter… or a psychopath.
New skills: eye gouging, nipple twisting, gnashing teeth, flicking foreheads, sitting on her baby sister to avoid her taking the toy she covets – she’s also developing ‘the look’, (much similar to ‘the look’ I give them when they misbehave in public – the one that says ‘you are in SO much trouble when I’m not too embarrassed to shout at you’) I’ll admit – I’m quite proud of this one.
Husband: Oh my God, what happened here?! It looks like someone was killed… using Fisher Price weapons.
Me: (Husband gets ‘the look’)
But it’s over already, the time has flown and soon we will be out the house by 7:30am (oh, who am I kidding, 7:45am tops) and I will be back on the treadmill that never stops; the treadmill of being a working mum who, for those days of the week misses her children dreadfully, feels guilty for leaving them and even guiltier for secretly needing a bit of time away from them and being at work for a bit.
I hope when my little boy writes his journal he forgets the endless trips to Lidl, the day where we had no car and we were stuck inside all day as it was pouring and Mummy was (and I quote) ‘The Grumpiest Mum on Earth’. Instead, I hope he remembers the time we had picnics and played outside til long past bedtime, the time when Daddy put up the tent in the garden and they stayed there all night. That he writes about the time when all the northern aunties and uncle came and we all laughed until we cried – shutting 7 of us in a 2 man beach tent in the driving rain, or running away from a swarm of wasps attacking Auntie Alice’s cream tea, time at Grandma and Grandad’s being spoilt rotten with the adored family we wish we saw more of. And losing the cat – then finding the cat. Or attending the wedding of 2 of our best friends, and who could forget the very early, dramatic arrival of a precious first cousin, pyjama days pleasant no-drama days and time with Mummy when she wasn’t replying to emails and wading through books.
So long summer, see you next time, it’s time to go back to work.
(The voice) Do I have to?