Having a Holiday? – It’s a Full Time Job!
School holidays are brilliant! I love them, despite not having any school age children who would actually benefit from six or eight weeks of lounging on the couch making a nuisance of themselves.
One of the main reasons why I love schools holidays is not for the fact that I like to see children enjoying their little selves – nope, it’s actually nothing to do with children at all (I find them mildly distressing at best and downright panic attack inducing when presented with one on my doorstep). No, I love schools holiday mainly because this time of year means that almost the entire three mile tailback on the M602 into Manchester mysteriously disappears. Isn’t that great? Hundreds of motorists simply cease to exist because it’s August! I’ll tell you one thing – if I had school age children and it was July 31st, I’d be a bit worried.
As it is, I’m delighted. I don’t know where these motorists have gone, but they’re not in front of me clogging up the outside lane, so that’s fine by me – let them disappear – I don’t give a fuck.
You see, this is my main gripe about Parents – With – School – Age – Children. Why on earth do you need to ferry them backwards and forwards to school? Have you not heard of legs? Your children have them, you know, they’re those dangly things which don’t get enough exercise. At the end of their hips, and do you know, they can, when asked, actually propel your little darlings where they need to go without you having to appear doing 28mph in front of me in the outside lane of the M602.
Many Years Ago, I too had school age children and they managed quite nicely without the need for my BMW 3 series and then later, my Mercedes AMG to roar up to the school gates and eject them onto the pavement where they ran the risk of getting knocked down by another parent in a similar vehicle doing similar things to myself (putting on make- up, reading the paper, a bit of hand washing) and thus resulting in the offspring sustaining life threatening injuries all before 9am in the morning and making them late for registration.
Of course, they bleated louder than a flock of sheep stuck up a mountainside at lunch time about my general reluctance to use my petrol allowance to take them anywhere. I was unconvinced. I let them walk whilst I made the daily ritual to Sainsbury and then onto the local bistro, which very conveniently opened at 8.15am thus allowing working mothers like me with flexi- hours and a sign on the desk saying ‘BOSS’ to join in with local society and bemoan the number of cars clogging up the village where we lived (mainly ours, ironically).
Unfortunately for me, back in those days when I was sipping cappuccino and eating a quick Danish (pastry, not a man – there was a distinct lack of Danes in my village, which was a shame because I had a thing for blond men in those days) I always dreaded July and August because – shock, horror – the sprogs were OFF SCHOOL and what the Fuck was I going to do with them for eight weeks?
Surely the whole point of nurturing your children to school age was simply to enable you to relinquish yourself of the horror of looking after them 24/7 and send them to a very expensive educational establishment for a great proportion of their pre- adult lives?
I suppose I could have dumped them at Summer Camp but, to be honest, that would have cost me my total Danish pastry allowance for the whole holiday and I’m afraid I wasn’t about to deny myself my daily foray into modern society with a sticky bun.
I wasn’t about to whisk them up and down the motorway either , to take them on Days Out. Read my ‘Never On A Sunday’ blog to discover why my Dad put me off fraternisation with my children, basically forever. I’d have only ended up clogging up the motorway doing 28 miles an hour in the outside lane AND I’d have had to buy them sticky buns, too.
So, of course, like many parents at the end of July, I developed an inordinate affection for my mother and father. Come the 31st, I started writing begging letters to them, explaining that they were potentially missing out on the best years of their grandchildren’s lives by inconveniently living in Stoke On Trent (well, lets face it, THAT’S an inconvenience even if you haven’t got grandchildren. Who the Fuck wants to live in Stoke On Trent?) and that they should clog up the M6 motorway and get to Liverpool and collect them without delay. Oh, and please could you keep them for like, two months, give me the chance to find a Danish bloke in Woolton? Thanks.
I also shamelessly called in favours from friends based upon a long forgotten helpful gestures – ‘remember when I covered for you at Netball Practice in Year 8? Yes, oh good, well, look. Small favour – could you look after my three sprogs for eight weeks, then? Thanks ever so.’
After friends were exhausted (with running a mile in the opposite direction) I’d basically try to palm the little blighters off on anyone who looked as though they were of a strong constitution and who wasn’t on the local constabulary’s ‘Wanted’ List, and this is the trouble with school holidays when you become a parent. You can’t even give them away to the local criminal fraternity.
There’s no real back up service to parenthood, grandparents and expensive summer camps for working parents. All the ‘after school’ clubs tend to stop too. Not that I ever sent my children to them- I couldn’t be bothered ferrying them around and besides, a BMW 3 series convertible wouldn’t fit them and all their paraphernalia in. I was permanently exhausted anyway , listening to friends reeling off all the after school activities and things that they Made Their Children Do To Improve Their Social Development – the dance classes, the football club, the violin lessons, the chess club, the rugby practice, the drama club, the choir practice – I needed a lie down with a Danish – man or pastry – and I gave my children strict instructions that if they wanted to participate in this dizzying round of social development (one upmanship, in other words) then they needed to do it without the help of my BMW and my Danish Pastry fund.
Did my children suffer as a result of my total disregard for their social development? Were they cast aside as pariahs by their friends and classmates? On the contrary, they grew up to be outgoing, confident, well rounded individuals capable of thinking and being themselves, instead of somebody that I wanted them to be. It’s a parent trap – moulding your kids into a smaller version of yourself – or making them attend all these classes and activities so you can sit back and congratulate yourself that you have raised a child that has opportunities that you didn’t have. What about giving them the opportunity to be themselves? Let them use their imaginations; let them kick a ball aimlessly in the street once in a while; let them be bored; let them eat cake (try not to starve the general populous though, aka Marie Antoinette); let them be CHILDREN.
And now, excuse me while I just relish the fact that they’ve all grown up and I go to get myself another sticky bun.
©Amy J Steinberg 2017