So there we were enjoying a family afternoon out at the much-anticipated farm park.
We’d read all about the two large play barns, copious soft play, café with decent (and compulsory) cake selection and packed daily schedule of activities.
You can just picture the tranquil scene…
After hubby checking his much-loved rain radar website (I’m saying nothing) I’d been assured that those pesky TV weather people were ‘completely wrong’ and the predicted torrential downpours would have cleared away hours before we were due to head out.
So of course following a relaxing car journey of constant bickering (us) and kicking and screaming (them) we arrived to hammering rain-drops, hair slowly frizzing itself into a pudding bowl and hours of sodden fun ahead of us.
Having initially headed in separate directions with one child each, Blue-eyed boy and I spent the best part of an hour trying to find the other half of the family with me getting more and more drenched and he having a whale of time kicking his legs and shouting his approval safe and dry under the buggy rain cover.
Once we did catch them up Mini-me delighted in taking me on several tours of the tarantula house where I revelled in the fact that I’d paid £15 to be separated from my greatest fear by thin sheets of glass in near total darkness.
Then hubby and I watched open-mouthed as some poor mum tried to deal with her children having simultaneous panic attacks after they’d somehow locked themselves in the lift, while two engineers worked frantically to free them.
And the final insult? The café, if it can call itself that, told us they had stopped serving toasted tea cakes more than an hour before closing because: ‘We’ve already cleaned up…’
Ah six weeks of summer holidays. The time of year that can warm the cockles of your heart and also drive you to almost leaving your spouse on a daily basis.
And it’s not as if I can yet claim to have been fully immersed in the whole parental stretch with no child-care. That looms large for next summer.
Yes I probably sound like a right miserable bugger. And yes I do love spending time with my children, and my other half. But I know it’s not just me who will breathe a sigh of relief when the eldest starts school later this week.
Now I do have friends who claim to love every single thing about the summer holidays and planning twice daily outings with their offspring over more than six weeks.
They embrace the chance for total, uninterrupted family time without a single minute of peace for themselves. They say they wish the holidays could last ‘for ever.’
Are they, in reality, lying to me, themselves and having mini hourly breakdowns in the loo I ask myself? Or is it actually possible to not occasionally count down until those precious few hours a week you get to yourself when the kids are ‘spoken for’?
If so it is a parental skill I have yet to master.
I have oodles of sepia-tinged memories to look back on and treasure this summer.
Strolling down Southend Pier in the sunshine and watching Mini-me playing on the beach, celebrating my dad’s birthday in Chiswick Park (while pretending not to check out Declan Donnelly at the next table) and just enjoying watching my two gorgeous kids become even closer mates than they were already.
But just as Mini-me is so excited about school that she keeps requesting to ‘dress up’ in her uniform, I am excited about a bit of structure coming back into our lives. And a little more time for me to have the freedom to work, read, drink a cup of tea – or even finish a train of thought or an actual sentence.
And that doesn’t make me a bad parent does it? Hopefully just an honest one.