Do I find school holidays hard? The other night I was chatting with online friends, and it set me thinking.
My children are three and five, and we’re still not clear of the baby stages. The Summertime, when we spend weeks on end in each other’s company, siphons off my energy like a super-suction petrol pump.
Each day brings at least one tantrum from somebody or other (on a very bad day, it’s me). And before we leave the house, I have to go through the same tedious discussion about whether it’s really a good idea to take Winnie the Pooh or Chum to the park, where the treasured comfort toy is likely to be left ‘playing’ on the swings until bedtime. By which time the only way to stem the howls of misery is for me or D to jog through a dark, scary park and rescue the animal from roaming youths and dodgy malingerers.
At the end of most days, I feel as though I’ve been battered black and blue by all those accidental headbutts and scooter-heel collisions.
During the holidays, my children are with me 24/7, barring the occasional playdate. And Austin and Gwen are my little monsters; to me, they’re cooler than any creature on Mars. Would other people look at their drooly little faces and love them in the same way that D and I do? Nope. So, for a few weeks at least, I know they’ll be with someone who will (eventually, after a cold compress and a glass of wine) forgive all that horrid toddlerish behaviour. Someone who will wake up wondering what funny little story the day will send, to capture in our memories for an older Austin and Gwen, when they need cheering up with tales about their delicious babyhood.
Soon enough, Austin and Gwen will be squirming their way out of my Mummy-hugs, and taking their cute smiles off into the horizon. Who knows how many sea-urchins might prickle their feet, and electric eels shock their chubby fingers? School is just the start of a journey where they’ll have to navigate their way around teachers, friends, frenemies, and the people who have snatched their favourite toy (or whose toy they have stolen). Life will throw challenges at them which they’ll have to meet without our help and, as Cat Stevens might say: in this wild world, it’s hard to get by just upon a cheeky grin.
So, during these precious holidays, which in ten years’ time I’m sure I’ll look back upon with a pang of loss, I’m trying to make sure we grab each day and give it a bone-juddering, fun-crunching rattle. Austin and Gwen may still be little, but they’re old enough to be taken to see friends; to the theatre, museum, park, castle, or river; without it leaving me in need of a week’s worth of sleep.
And so, that’s what we’ve been doing.
I doubt they’ll remember the detail of our holidays this year. But I will.
And I’m hoping that, when Austin and Gwen launch out and start to tread water for themselves, there will be a blurry, happy impression of Summer 2015 lodged somewhere in their memories, to help keep them afloat.
The Pigeons, D and I will now be heading out for the horizon – to the Green Man Festival in Wales, and then the Loire Valley in France – so it may be a little quiet on this blog until the second week in September. You can keep up with us in the meantime on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.
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