“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness… we had everything before us, we had nothing before us”
Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities
School holidays are rather like football matches: a game of two halves that is, not full of sweaty over-paid man boys. One half is invariably packed full of action with excitement at every turn, whilst the other is full of dull, but strategically vital, defensive work. Sometimes though, just sometimes it all comes together in a game that is thrilling from beginning to end with a team that works together to produce magic.
Usually I find that the summer holiday drags, the seemingly endless pressure to entertain the children in some way provokes a restlessness and friction that stresses everyone. This year however it didn’t seem to happen. Whether I was a bit more laid back or whether we are all just feeling a little more settled in ourselves and our situation I don’t know but the cries of “I’m bored” and the endless accusatory questioning of “What are we doing today?” didn’t arrive.
Now don’t get me wrong, I haven’t suddenly turned into Fun Mum who revels in imaginary play with the children and roller skating round the garden before warming the Soya Milk and making hot (raw) chocolate in a den made out of 3,000 thread count sheets. I also haven’t entertained them every day. I haven’t set up trips to museums or play parks. I haven’t even tried to fill every minute of every day with ‘fun’. I have let the children get bored and wander aimlessly around the house looking for something to spark their imagination. I have let them squabble with each other and not step in to sort it out. I have allowed them to arrange play dates themselves and to figure out what will make them happy.
I have still done stuff, I haven’t neglected my children or given them a totally crap summer. I mean we went hard and fast in the first week with a staycation in Devon with the grandparents and cousins. We went camping to Dorset, visited Brownsea Island, saw the gorgeous BFG film, saw friends, went ice skating, J went on a football camp at my old school, T learnt to sew at the wonderful Millie Moon, we spent a couple of days in a quirky ‘boutique’ (anyone know what that actually means?) hotel for my landmark birthday celebration, we even took in a music festival with friends. Best of all the sun shone pretty much the whole time. The children look healthy, rested and ready for the onslaught of the next academic year.
I am always the mum that dreads the summer holidays, the mum who is REALLY glad when the holidays are over so that structure and order can be re-introduced to our lives. I am always the mum who is openly pleased/relieved to deliver the kids back to school, the one who has a little spring in her step as she walks away from the classroom after drop off because she knows that she is heading back to a messy, but quiet house. This year though, on this last weekend before we go Back to School, I’m not sure that the spring in my step will be quite as high. I have a feeling that the cool, calm quiet that I usually spend the summer holidays craving will be a little too loud once that front door closes after the classroom drop offs.
We haven’t been away for an exotic overseas holiday, we haven’t even really had a family holiday, just the four of us, for a week. But I have a feeling, you know that little sneaky, naggy little feeling that starts in the gut, that maybe just maybe, we have had one of the best summer holidays so far. This year, by some miracle alignment of the stars, the Life of Ryrie’s school summer holiday has had a little sprinkling magic. I hope that yours has too.