I am BACK. Which can mean only one thing. Term starts tomorrow. On the one hand I am thrilled to be getting rid of one and then in two weeks, two children, but on the other, I am desperately not looking forward to getting up in the morning, the hideous rush and shouting to get out of the door, the school run in the rain, the grumpy children afternoon pick up and then ballet runs on Saturday. Plus, if money were endless I would actually quite like having the children at home so we could go and do fun stuff all the time and I could pay someone to sort the house out and do the washing whilst we were out. Oooh and I could have a nanny who could take them to the park for me so I could have my nails done when they are getting on my nerves. That is the dream.
So, what has happened. Well just about everything. The start of the holidays had me all excited as I found out I was due a tax rebate. As you can imagine after the cash strapped year so far, this was more than a little over exciting. I was happily told it would be in my account within the next four weeks. The great wait then began. As did the endless holiday searching. I was selflessly going to donate my rebate to a family holiday. There were a few limitations to our search - it had to be available for the last week in August, it had to be cheaper than an iPad, it had to be in the UK as the boys don't have passports (and I've since found out I need to renew Bea's as well) and it couldn't be too yucky (Gt Yarmouth was out). We spent many hours and weeks (and when I say we I mainly mean me and my long suffering family) researching caravans in St Ives and almost all Kent resorts, farms in Wales and even dabbled in some cheap inland cottages but until the rebate was in we were unable to book anything. Eventually it got to the penultimate week of the holidays and joy of joys I checked my account and the money had gone in from the wonderful HMRC. After a quick dance around the kitchen and some girly screaming between me and Bea, off we went to the local Horniman museum to meet Bea's friend and her Swiss au pair. Upon arrival I confidently marched up to the desk to pay for our annual ticket to the aquarium (I know - I felt terribly important - £15 on a ticket without even thinking - the decadence). My bravado quickly turned to embarrassment when she politely told me that my card had been declined. At that moment it dawned on me like a lightning bolt that what I had in fact seen online, was that the stupid HMRC had deposited a cheque into my account, not cash, which meant I had to wait a further three days for money. The teenage au pair who had had her card authorised was wondering what had happened - clearly she had mistaken me for a grown up and as such was unlikely to have my card declined - just goes to show you should never judge a book by its cover. As luck would have it however, I was able to turn to my own teenager in the shape of my beloved nearly-18 yr old nephew and demand money with menaces to pay the patient woman behind the desk. I was not ONE little bit mortified that the patient woman and all the other wet and holiday weary parents saw him leave my children in the foyer and walk over to the reception desk, get out his wallet and ask me how much I needed. I hope my tone of voice was enough to convey that he was in fact a nephew and not my toyboy/sugar daddy.
My beloved nearly-18 yr old nephew who is normally based in Suffolk, had travelled all the way up to London on the train - ON HIS OWN (in my mind he is still under 10 and it still freaks me out that he is old enough to catch a train and use the underground without a responsible adult being present) in order to be my Manny for the week. It was a life saving move as that was the week that I started 'proper' work with Weight Watchers. I was covering four meetings for a leader who was on holiday and I was extremely concerned about it all. So the Sunday we got back from Mum's, I 'popped' my leader cherry if you will. I have to say as with the real thing, it was less painful than I thought and it was all over very quickly. Fortunately with this activity I got paid for doing it so it was worth all the anxiety and embarrassment. Also fortunately, the meetings were all quite quiet as it was holiday season so it was a gentle immersion into the WW world. I'm still not exactly loving it though - there is an awful lot of work involved for absolute peanuts of an income, but I've come too far now to give up especially as (drum roll please) my very own wibbly meeting is starting a week tomorrow. Oh yes - from September 12th I shall be holding my own meeting in a local scout hut at 10am. I am dreading the meeting but more so the hour or so preceding it as I dispatch various children willingly or unwillingly with their respective carers. But as I keep reminding myself, it isn't life or death and the worst that can happen is that I'm crap and I give up. Actually that seems like the best case scenario. I could really do with the space in my car and the under stairs cupboard back. The amount of stock you have to store is quite unbelievable.
I digress, back to my nephew. I am very used to seeing him in his own environment and at my mother's which is all very convivial. However having him in my house just brought home the fact that I will have two of these smelly food guzzling giants in my house before I know it. It's not that he smells bad, it's just that with a teenage boy in residence it either smells of 'boy' or 'boy and deodorant' and that is just one of them. There simply isn't room for two teenage boys in our house which means that I need to a. be more dedicated to playing the lottery and stop being so half arsed about it b. make at least one of them gay or OCD or both, both or c. make K take a weekend course in amateur loft converting so that we could put them up there with their own bathroom and an airtight door so that we can enjoy the middle floor un affected by their largess and odour. The amount they eat is also a revelation - it is constant. I am thoroughly disillusioned of my assumption that as they grow up, their need for constant food preparation diminishes. If anything he was more needy than Ted on that front. Ted is more than happy to spend the day existing on milk and grapes. I am being a little cruel as actually he was bloody brilliant with the children and with me - there aren't many nearly-18 yr old boys who could be left with three children under 7 at 6pm. He coped with Ted wanting me and asking where I was (he shut my bedroom door and told Ted to shhh as I was asleep which worryingly Ted totally bought and then became insistent on going to bed too - a genius deception), he bathed them, brushed their teeth, read them stories and got them safely off to sleep before I came back shattered from my meeting. He even counted out my cash and did all the banking at the post office for me the following day. I can't recommend him highly enough for all your childcare/assistant needs. The only thing I would warn you about would be the vaguely inappropriate T-shirts. It started with the 'Wang Cars' t shirt he donned for the children's museum - now I'm not Mary Whitehouse and I'm pretty sure the children at the museum wouldn't have been able to make the connection between the words on his t-shirt and the more adult meaning, but I knew the other parents would and they are usually the nice East Dulwich mums who are a 'cut above' the SE23 lot so I didn't want the hired help casting indelicate aspersions upon my virtue so I asked him to change, which he kindly did. Worse was to come though as in preparation for the park on Thursday I saw him walk towards me and all I could see were the words 'The Bitches'. The rest of the t-shirt said 'love it Doggy style'. At a park you run the risk of all age groups and I was pretty sure that a vast number of them, including one of the boys we were intending to meet, would have been able to read the very charming message he was putting on display. At this point I grabbed the biggest top of K's I could find and forced him into it. Sod the rest of the world, I was worried Bea might read it. Just call me Mary.
Back to the holiday - so without the cheque clearing until Friday, the day before we wanted to go away, unsurprisingly all the options we had narrowed down (My particular favourite was a Hoseasons Chalet in the Isle of Wight) had all gone and there was nothing left but some undesirable caravans in Camber Sands so we made a brave decision to Holiday in the glorious SE23. Unfortunately, the decision that we had somehow been hard done by meant that I became very free and easy with the 'treats' we felt we deserved. This started in Ikea. BIG MISTAKE. I let the children roam free in the kids department and I'm pretty sure the ferry ride to the IOW was spent in there alone. That was before I got involved and started the 'imaginings'. If you spend enough time in Ikea you become brainwashed into imagining that your house is in fact twice the size it is and twice as tidy and uncluttered. When it is all laid out beautifully and neatly before me I believe with my heart and soul that we desperately need the very thing they have for sale in order to make our house look bigger/tidier/prettier. However upon arrival home I am always surprised to find the same smallish and messyish house I left behind and the things I have bought never ever look the same as they did in store as they have seemingly doubled in size on the journey home and knowing how much they have cost has made me ever so slightly hate them. We left the store with me welling up with tears at the shock of the cost, the new manny saying 'I told you so' and the children clutching a menagerie of stuffed animals. However I did manage to get the new covers for my sofa which was what I had gone for and I am sitting on them right now. They make me happy. A small fortune well spent after all.
Right that is all of part uno. I am too tired and I need my sleep, afterall I have to get up and out tomorrow for the first time in six weeks. I am scared. Bea is ridiculously excited. K is unaffected. As is G. Ted will just be pleased to leave the house - he has been kept in all day today in order that Bea is well rested for her first day in year two. She will soon be seven. It is incomprehensible. Buenos noches.