Hot fun in the summertime?

25 Aug

The golden gates

I love school. School holidays? Not so much. Perhaps if I were a teacher without children I’d think I’d won the lottery, but as it stands I have been a single mother for the whole of August and my patience is wearing thin.

It would be easy to blame my absent husband for all the surrounding chaos now that I am temporarily outnumbered 3:1 by my offspring. However, I think the long stretch of summer holidays have always been something I dread.

I never really understand parents – a look of wonder and longing in their eyes – who say “The end of term can’t come soon enough. I’m dying for the kids to break up.” I bracket them with parents who home school. I don’t treat them with disdain or think they’re stupid. I just think they’re a little bit mad, or possess something that was removed from my body along with the placenta from my firstborn.

Why, when school exists, would I not want to use it? Every single delicious hour of free childcare, and messy play that I don’t have to clear up, and learning strategies that are way beyond any level of my understanding. I can’t really remember yearning for the start of term when I was a child, but I sure as hell can’t wait for it now that I’m a parent.

The school gates are beautiful things: if I were god then I would reproduce all the very best ones and use them as the entrance to heaven. I know that at the beginning of term, and every morning of every week until the holidays, my children are looked after by people who, for the most part, know more about child rearing than I do. In between the hours of 9am-3.30pm my children are for once not my problem. The age of four, as my children know, deserves a very special birthday. It marks school age, and what could be a more fantastic year than that.

Therefore the end of July always makes me anxious, with the knowledge that  for six weeks my children are very much my problem again. As I write this, I have a toddler bashing my thigh with a fistful of Lego (yes, too young for school, but so much harder to handle when he is under the influence of his brother and sister.) He is saying “Bad Guy!” with each thwack. These are his only words, and thanks to his older siblings, he’s even learnt to emphasise the ‘bad’. I was hoping for mama, kiss, or story.

My 11–year–old daughter is constantly restless, and never wants to make her own fun. She expects to be entertained around the clock, preferably with expensive trips to nail salons, shoe shops and 15 rated films. I approve of none of these things. She thinks it’s normal to ask for sushi at lunch. She looks at me incredulously if I suggest we go to the park with a few sandwiches to play badminton. “ARE YOU JOKING? Sapphire gets to go for a spray tan with her mum, wears a thong and is even getting her hair dip-dyed next week. You are horrible.”

My middle son is the opposite. He wants to stay inside all day, playing on the floor with Star Wars figures. “Can we stay in today mum? Please?” He initiates light sabre battles with the cat, or the baby. He is easy to please, but hard to budge. I can only lure him outside with the promise of a visit to somewhere dark and undercover, such as the cinema. I repeat the phrase “Let’s go for a nice walk in the park” every hour, in the vain hope that he will agree. He simply says, “No thanks” as if fresh air is a lifestyle choice for crazy people.

Yesterday morning we went to Tesco. I can’t go anywhere on my own at the moment, even to buy bread. It’s really boring for all of us. On the way back, I took the scenic route and turned onto the road where my son’s school is. I slowed a little, and gazed wistfully  at the school gates. Less than two weeks, I said to myself. My son asked me what I was doing. He was worried I’d gone truly crazy and was trying to drop him off a fortnight early. The caretaker, obviously missing school as well because he was sweeping leaves in the playground, looked up at me. We smiled at each other and I drove off.

Now that I am experiencing a school holiday that is sending me slowly mad, I plan to do things differently in future. Partly because I don’t want to lock myself in the bathroom every time I have to make a call. But I have to. Nobody would ever want to speak to me again if they had to listen to the high-pitched shrieking of my fighting children.

While August has dragged, September is full of hope: secondary school for my daughter, a child-minder for the baby and work. I am looking forward to my husband coming home too. Once again there will be a timetable and it will mark a sense of order and a return (albeit temporarily) to normality. Whatever that is.

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4 Responses to “Hot fun in the summertime?”

  1. everymealmatters August 25, 2012 at 12:25 pm #

    I absolutely love your blog, more often than not you take me on a journey with you through your beautifully written, truthful and sometimes heartbreaking post. You have a great talent, don’t ever stop writing from the heart.

    • mothersruined August 26, 2012 at 10:04 pm #

      What an uplifting comment – thank you. As much as I write my blog for my own pleasure, it’s a great boost to know that you enjoy reading it. In much the same way, your fab blog allows me a sense of some of the pleasure that comes from eating out. Something I love doing, but sadly don’t do as much as I’d like to anymore. Although I did sneak some peanut butter ice-cream in today from Gelapos. Heaven.

  2. Fiona September 1, 2012 at 8:06 pm #

    I’ve just discovered your blog and am hooked! Your writing is so engaging, I want you to be my friend. Unfortunately I disagree completely with the school holiday comments; I love them! The change in routine, slow starts to the day and no clockwatching -heaven…
    My children are in between yours though, so that makes life easier. Spray tans and nail bars are a definite ambition of my 7year old daughter, but she is still satisfied with a picnic at the park. For now.
    Enjoy the start of the new term!

    • mothersruined September 2, 2012 at 10:21 am #

      Thanks! Yes, agree difference in age between my kids is a real bugger. Sure things would be different if I’d been better at planning. Enjoy your last days of freedom .

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