The truth about the summer ‘holidays’…

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.

Advertisements

How many plates can you carry?

I’ve come to the conclusion that, on certain days, parenting is a little like one, long waitressing shift.

Except for the fact that you don’t get paid and the only ‘tips’ on offer are stroppy about-to-start-school ones along the lines of: ‘Mummy, I need more blueberries,’ and ‘You need to buy more chocolate biscuits.’

I know – I can’t believe it took me this look to make the connection either.

Maybe it’s something about turning four, but Mini-me’s diva demands are definitely on the rise. And considering that her favourite ‘hobbies’ include picnics (garden, park and woodland based naturally), frequenting cafes and seeing how many snacks she can wheedle out of relatives and close friends, I’m starting to feel like a plate balancer as well as spinner.

I suppose I shouldn’t complain, after all ‘waitressing’ these days keeps me constantly on my toes and thus provides at least a grudging form of exercise, and I don’t have to wear short skirts like I did ‘back in the day.’

And actually Mini-me requesting that I pause the TV so she can take a quick ‘snack break’ has been the cause of much hilarity. (I know, I need to get out more to somewhere without swings and buggies.)

But let’s face it, fetching, carrying, raising voice when perfectly capable offspring is just being lazy, and wiping up spills with one foot whilst clearing dirty plates with hands is bloody knackering.

I have fairly painful memories of my pre-children waitressing ‘career’ – which actually constituted the revenue source of one university summer.

I was a pretty awful ‘restaurant attendant’ as I recall. I could only carry two plates at a time, would forget to put some meals through the till and then blame the chefs for their lateness and objected to having to plaster on a huge smile when I was quite often massively hungover.

Also I wasn’t shagging one of the managers which, if I remember correctly, was the only way to bag yourself decent tips!

Now of course I can cater to numerous demands in minutes and am brilliant at anticipating the customers’ needs.

Time for your bottle of milk sir? Here’s one I microwaved earlier.

More carrot sticks madam? Of course, here are some extra ones I prepared just in case.

You’d like a third custard pot of the day you say? You must be joking!

At least I’m not alone in this business of order taking and continual washing up.

One of my best friends now enjoys the delights of her child shouting ‘rubbish!’ when he’s finished consuming something on an outing and needs the remains disposing of.

Another has crisp packets thrown at her when her kids have finished munching. Obviously they are incapable of putting them in the bin themselves you understand.

Personally I’m looking forward to seeing what Mini-me tries to get away with at school mealtimes.

I’ll bet we’re the only parents called in because their child wishes to dine atop a blanket in the playground with her teddy bears.

And due to concerns over worrying custard pot addiction…