It’s Friday of half term, and boy have we packed a lot into our week. As a parent you will come to the realisation, fairly early in your child’s life that holidays are really not holidays at all. Holidays are a rag tag amalgam of everything you should have done during term time but were too knackered/busy to do, and ferrying your children around from one social event to another in a bid to stop them murdering each other and dancing on the graves of their fallen enemies.
The longer the holiday is, the more you stand an actual chance of having a few real days of holiday, but this will only be in the middle. It will be bookended by the above, and actually worse at the end when you have run out of patience and your children are bored out of their minds by enforced fun and yet still reluctant to return to school, thus creating a dichotomy that is to be labelled ‘hell’. Half term, being only one week long, is like the stock cube of holidays and all of the above applies tenfold.
My children are of an age now where they organise a lot of their own social activities. This is sometimes good, because it means that you do not have to spend half your life awkwardly texting parents you’ve never met about drop offs and pick ups in random venues. Other times it is a nightmare, because you are still nominally ‘pack leader’ despite their avowed independence. You are expected to juggle diaries, provide lifts, churn out cash, feed random people at the drop of a hat, and remember everything, even when your children do not tell you anything until five minutes before they are due to be somewhere.
My children all do versions of life skills classes, or did. They may be called citizenship or whatever, but they’re all the same. They are supposed to ready your child for the real world that looms towards them at the age of eighteen. They are largely bollocks it has to be said. They teach obscure things, or erroneous things and never anything truly useful like: how not to be mugged coming home from that party (i.e. how to turn your shoe into a handy weapon), what to do if someone plies you with Jager bombs and you are sick into your hat, where to get the best chips after closing time, how to make ten quid stretch for two weeks and still have a social life. That sort of thing.
They also ought to teach you about the difference between thinking that you have told your mum all your social arrangements and actually having told her, and not getting pissed off when she goes mental because that finely crafted time table which relies on split second timing usually gifted only to fighter pilots has been comprehensively wrecked because you didn’t tell her you needed to be outside the Odeon at half past three today. I also feel very strongly that they ought to teach you that parents are also allowed a life, and may want to fit their own social life in somewhere, such as it is.
Having said that, this week has only been mildly frustrating on that front and given that I am now effectively parenting three teenagers, I am grateful for a) no ball pools/Wacky Warehouses, b) no five o’clock in the morning wake up calls and c) no glitter/playdough in the carpets.
Here’s what we’ve done this week.
On Saturday our lovely friends came for lunch, which in the manner of all the best lunches, continued for several hours and involved previously unimagined levels of gluttony.
On Sunday I hosted an interim birthday party for my parents, who I am taking out to afternoon tea in that there London when the weather is better and our diaries are clearer. There were no balloons but there were lots of cakes, also more gluttony.
On Monday the kids and I zoomed down the motorway to that there London. We rocked up in Hampstead for lunch at a very lovely Thai restaurant, walked from there down to Camden, noodling in all the nooks and crannies and walking off lunch. We then hopped on the tube to Charing Cross and found the optometry museum, where a man called Neil gave us a tour and told us about how they used to fit chickens with glasses in an effort to calm their murderous rage. This led on to a story about a boy who had his eye pecked out by an angry chicken, and honestly that was an excellent way to spend an afternoon and has led to a minor chicken glasses/murderous chicken obsession on my part. We ate cake afterwards, and then Oscar shimmied up one of the lions in Trafalgar Square and we went and gave the thumbs up to David Shrigley’s thumb on the Fourth Plinth. We subverted a small exhibition on town planning in Foyles and had dinner in Leon before coming home.
On Tuesday my friend Claire and her daughter Erin came to visit. We talked a lot about Macbeth, drank a lot of pink gin, ate forty tonnes of pancakes and went to pub quiz where me, Erin, Claire and Tallulah came third, and Tilly and her boyfriend, Bread came last. Which just goes to prove something or other.
On Wednesday I waved Claire and Erin off, did ninety million errands I had put off and ferried children backwards and forwards to various events. I also made a splendid Valentine’s dinner, because gluttony.
On Thursday we had another orthodontic snafu, which thankfully was neither mine or Tallulah’s mess up this time, but which means I am still being haunted by dentistry and am wondering what it is I need to learn so that they all sod off and leave me alone. We also went to see my marvellous friend Nicki, who I haven’t seen since my drag party, and frankly it has been far too long. We came home via the chip shop, which was just the job on a freezing cold night. Also, I managed to stay awake for a conference call in the evening, so top marks for me.
Today I really need to iron nine thousand items of clothing which should be going onto my EBay page this weekend, before taking the children off on their various dates, but ironing does not have any ALLURE, so I am writing this instead.
NB: This diary section is for me, rather than you, as I tend to forget stuff big time. When I say big time I mean like, last week I accidentally bought 18 rolls of kitchen towel instead of toilet roll and then we ran out of toilet roll when guests were here, and had to do an emergency Tesco run. This was the day after I took myself and the children to the dentist only to find I should have been there 24 hours earlier. Yesterday I also realised we had given a DVD someone had lent us to the charity shop and kept one to give them which was never theirs in the first place. That kind of thing.