The summer of ‘13

Follow Claire Smith's Mothering Heights on Twitter @MinistryOfMum

Follow Claire Smith's Mothering Heights on Twitter @MinistryOfMum - Credit: Archant

I’M FOUR days into the summer holidays (27 left, excluding weekends, not that I’m counting) and I’ve had an epiphany. I have realised that no matter what I do with my children it’s never enough. I could give them 101 dalmatians and they would want 102.

Just before the summer break began, I was feeling a bit emotional. My youngest was leaving pre-school and his transition to school hadn’t been going well. My husband absolutely had to go to Budapest for a week just as the schools broke up. Apparently being the only person in the whole worldwide company that could do this and, well, he only pays for everything around here.

Anyway, I was getting a bit wound up especially as my husband’s farewell speech included the words “You can’t change your situation, so change your attitude towards it”. If I didn’t need new summer frocks, I’d leave him. Without admitting anything to him, I quickly realised this was actually good advice and pulled myself together.

I decided that this would be the mother of all summer holidays. That I would give the summer of ’69 (when I was brought into this world) a jolly good run for its money. I would change my attitude. I’d look back and sing “Those were the best days of my life” a la Bryan Adams. Heck, I might even buy my first real six-string.

What I didn’t take into account was my children’s’ attitude.


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You see, I’ve set the bar high when it comes to school holidays. And it’s a bar that doesn’t even include gin for me. In an attempt to keep everyone happy and ensure that nobody kills anyone, I’ve always made sure that we’re busy and active. My kids surely have an awesome time but, in their young minds, what they think we’ve done compared to the reality of what we’ve actually done is completely different. I’ll give you an example:

WHAT WE’VE DONE SO FAR:

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1. Holidayed in Suffolk with friends.

2. Walked in woods, paddled in streams, had picnics and run wild.

3. Lollies x 1000.

WHAT THE KIDS THINK WE’VE DONE SO FAR:

1. Nothing.

2. Not been out.

3. No treats.

WHAT I SHOULD HAVE DONE SO FAR:

1. Bought shares in Band-Aid.

2. Bought a trolley to pull all the scooters/bikes that I invariably end up carrying.

3. Bought a corner shop.

In fact after spending yesterday at a garden party and the park, each with a friend in tow, they deemed it “The worst summer holiday EVER” because I wouldn’t take them on a boat trip. Today, after going to the cinema and eating all the popcorn, my daughter complained that “We’ve only been out once today”. On the first day they said they were “bored” – it was 7.35am.

I’ve been thinking about this and I’ve realised that their attitude is entirely my fault. My children’s expectations are HUGE and INSATIABLE basically because I have set them so high and, usually, met them.

The thing is, as a family, we suffer dreadfully from cabin fever. We have to be out and about in order to function as a normal unit. There are only so many minutes in a day that I can lock myself in my panic room (the downstairs loo), because any parent knows that a trip to the toilet always attracts at least one child. We simply have to go out for a large proportion of the time between 7am and 7pm and it’s made easier by doing stuff that I know the kids will enjoy and even better if I’m enjoying it too.

Moreover, I like to take the kids to different places and do various things because it’s the one parenting thing I can handle and I’m actually quite good at - so I’m definitely going to exploit it. But therein lies the rub – they end up getting too much.

THEY ARE SPOILT. Not in a materialistic way, but spoilt with FUN. Which would be fine if they appreciated it, but they don’t and yet I keep on giving. I can’t even count the number of times I’ve threatened to give them a day of nothing, which I never carry through because a day of nothing would mean hell on earth for me. And, clearly, they get their selfishness from me.

In fact the one day that I thought we’d chill and stay home, my youngest fell off the bed and cut his head on a toy. Of course we ended up having a trip to A&E. At least there was free juice and an on-hand play specialist for entertainment. The boy was fine and we had a perfectly relaxing time. So much so that I’m going to schedule in the hospital on the days when there’s nothing much going on.

So far I’ve spent years of child benefit and it’s hardly been a week. I’ll have to hide the credit card statement. But at least it’s money spent on them because there are certainly no new clothes hiding in my wardrobe. This entire school holiday will be done in last summer’s frocks.

Please don’t bother commenting that they’re spoilt brats because I know that. Also don’t comment on my old clothes. Actually don’t send comments.

Send money please.

And gin.

And new children.

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