Saturday, 10 September 2016

Summer '16

Time and Money. I struggle with both. The minute I know I have a lot of either coming my way I get terrifically over excited and spend the lead up to their arrival imagining all the wonderful things I will do with them. I research lots of things I will buy with the money - totally forgetting all the things I have already committed to, cheques I have written or tedious direct debits I choose to pretend don't exist.  I buy the things/pay for the things I've been looking forward to with the sudden influx of money and when it is all gone (which it all does, in around 24 hours), I suddenly remember all the mundane things the money should have been used for and become quite depressed about the fact that I have no way of meeting the commitments and then the realisation that I will have to break the news to K that he will have to meet them instead, and then he becomes pretty annoyed and normally tells me he doesn't have any money either. The same is true of time. Six weeks of summer holidays sounds like a blissful amount of time. I researched all the things we could do, planned and promised all sorts of day trips, cinema trips and play dates. I achieved a mere fraction of them. I am genuinely shocked that the six weeks went by so bloody quickly. I find myself wishing we had two more weeks which is a first. I can only conclude that the sun has made the difference. 

We have had such a wonderful summer holiday it seems cruel that it should all come to such an abrupt end. Obviously it hasn't all been sunshine and lollipops, there has been plenty of shouting and ranting and threats to kill people to boot but on the whole, it has been stupendous but we have seen lots of lovely people, been to lovely places and swum in the lovely and bracing British sea lots and lots and lots. I even managed to get the boys out of the house time and time again thanks to the wonderful Pokémon Go. I will not hear a word against it. Even going in to town to run the dullest of errands was met with joyous excitement (and intense argument over who was going to hold the phone first) because they were happy to search for new pokemon and pokeballs to add to their virtual collection. Such a nice change to Minecraft which has them sitting down for hours on end and then having real life fisticuffs over people invading each other's virtual 'worlds' and ruining virtual buildings with virtual TNT.

Our family holiday to the Isle of Wight was a stupendous success. We managed to actually enjoy large parts of the week even with five children, the British weather and that I had paid scant attention to the finer details in regards to the house we hired, and only realised the day before that it was a three bed, not the four beds I had planned and that it wasn't actually suitable for small children. None of it hampered the week as badly as I feared. I just kept a closer eye on Dot than I would normally and we spent lots of time out and about, even enjoying a day at a theme park - which isn't a sentence I thought I would ever utter. The ferry crossing there and back gave the children a sufficient enough experience of 'travel' and the long car journey on the mainland was more than enough to convince the adults that any ideas of driving to foreign lands would have to wait for several years thanks to a two hour traffic jam and copious sick. G is not a great traveller and half way through the stop/starting two hour M25 'fun' the complaints of his tummy ache reached an interesting climax when he began to spray everything within a few feet of his mouth with the eclectic contents of his stomach. I was in the front, driving and was lucky enough to have him sitting next to me in the passenger seat so I had the unenviable task of trying to clear up the mess/stem the flow whilst driving forward a few metres every few minutes. K had come up with the genius idea of sitting in the very back of our people carrier to better 'control' the children en route (I suspect it was also to fit in a long nap, which he commenced after about half an hour in to the five hour journey) and was therefore unable to be any use to us other than to dry heave at the smell and  yell for the windows to be opened permanently. Due to the jam, we managed to miss our allotted ferry time but luckily made it on the very next one and I cleaned G and the car up sufficiently enough to be able to continue our journey onwards once we made it on to the island. Although I couldn't have predicted that he would then be sick yet again, but by that point I really had gone past the point of caring about the damage/smell and just concentrated on getting us to the house and the washing machine it housed, as quickly as possible. The journey home was mercifully sick free although still long but an awful lot quieter and more pleasant smelling.

Starting the holidays with our holiday, was, in hindsight, a master move. The end of the school year was incredibly bitter sweet as Beatrice had to say goodbye to her beloved school. The tears flowed at her leavers' ceremony and even I welled up at one point - thanks to a few hundred children singing about seasons changing and people growing and time passing etc. Bea absolutely loved that school and her happiness has been infectious. Her sadness at leaving such a happy place left me feeling uneasy and equally sad. I have chosen to send her to a different school to the one that almost all of her classmates are going to move on to so not only did she feel the loss of her beloved school but 99% of her friends as well. I do feel a bit guilty for tearing her away but she'll get over it and like most parental decisions, I have done it in the belief that it is in her best interest. Anyway, the fact that we immediately left on a family holiday helped her not to sit and brood and actually meant that the children had to get on with one another straight away and not spend any time getting used to being in each other's company constantly. It was lovely to witness actually. Other than the usual petty squabbles and silliness, B and G got on beautifully and G and Ted were thick as thieves as they realised the benefit in having each other now that they are outnumbered by girls. The little girls slept unexpectedly well as well - even though they were sharing a room - Dot started sleeping through the night in her borrowed travel cot and even Cybs stayed in her own bed a few times - a hitherto unheard of event. As soon as we got home we made the same changes - put her in a single bed as opposed to a toddler bed and bought a big travel cot for Dot and shoved her in the room too. So far, so good. Cybs still comes in to my bed every night but now, more often than not, Dot does not, and if she does it is well past midnight which has made life far more enjoyable and bearable for me.

Another life changing event has been the loss of Cybil's bloody dummies. I have no idea how we managed to get to her being four years old with her still insisting on taking one everywhere, but we did and my happiness at their demise is untold. As luck would have it I didn't even have to go through the rigmarole/expense of the dummy fairy to do it which adds to my happiness. On our second break of the holidays - to a lovely little holiday let in Spexhall next to the house of some friends of ours - I was left in charge as K sadly had to return to work for the last few days. I soothed my despair with wine and totally neglected the children and their bedtime needs as I indulged in a lovely grown up BBQ. By 9.30 pm and after a fruitless search for the sodding dummy, I allowed Cybs to fall asleep on the sofa in front of the TV in return for not crying about the lack of a silicone teat between her teeth. She happily agreed and the rest, as they say, is history. Sometimes neglect really is the way forward. Just in time actually as she is about to start school. I can't quite believe it. She is my first summer baby (she turned 4 at the beginning of August) so I'm not used to sending them in to full time education at such a ridiculously young age. My mother is convinced I should have tried to keep her off for another year so that she could start her reception year as the oldest, not the youngest. I wasn't convinced that that was any better an option than being the youngest so Monday it is. She will be leaving me. Initially for four days a week but then eventually the full five days a week. It seems an impossible thing but I know that it will be possible and it will happen. I'm not looking forward to it. Just me and Dot five days a week seems equally as odd and impossible. I've said it before I know, but how on earth I will actually send Dot to school so that I am here all alone five days a week - I have no idea. It is not something I can currently contemplate. I think I may just hate being alone. Even though I crave small pockets of time alone, great acres of time is not on my wish list. Maybe that is why I keep having babies.

I think it is also because on the whole, I genuinely enjoy the company of children. Again, I do not mean all of the time - I really do have times when I would like it to be ok to kick them because I am so unbearably frustrated at their behaviour, but, more often than not, doing stuff with them is pretty fun.  One of the absolute best of the best things about parenting is watching your children being joyful. All consuming, natural joy from something that hasn't been bought. Like watching Bea prance around in the shallow clear sea water of the Isle of Wight and performing endless hand stands and cartwheels, or them all playing a game together or when they realise Dot has learnt a new word (cat is pretty big news right now). It is what I find keeps me going and helps me deep breathe through the ridiculous fighting and whining and moaning and haranguing that I have relentlessly endured for six weeks. That is the greatest thing about the holidays. Watching the children playing happily, running around outside, in the sun, with other children and being childishly happy about it all is why the summer holidays are so much better with the sun and why I couldn't have planned what was going to happen to my time and money this summer because I quite simply couldn't have planned it better.

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