A few weeks before the end of term we had a shoe-related incident. We were in the supermarket when a short summer storm hit heavily. After we’d done our shopping and waded through the small lake that was once the car park, we were soaked. Since the sun was out again by the time we got home, I cleverly put all our shoes out on the doorstep to dry. Less cleverly, I immediately forgot we even owned shoes and left them out there all night long.
The next morning after 10 minutes of shouting at the kids about why in the sodding hell do they never put anything away and where were their shoes THIS time, my memory returned, and I looked outside to see their school shoes in pieces across the lawn, courtesy of the neighbourhood foxes. My sandals on the other hand were perfectly intact, still side-by-side on the doorstep, apparently deemed not good enough to eat. I was mildly offended. And forced to send the kids in wearing trainers.
After this, I began counting down to the end of term and to the beacon of light and hope (and sleep) that is the summer holidays. Well, to be honest I began the countdown on day one of the summer term, but we had now got to the last few weeks, that long and drawn-out time when nobody wants to be there, least of all the poor teachers. When the parents are worn out from a year’s worth of ironing all the ultimate non-iron shirts, searching for anything resembling a lid for the water bottle you only bought last week but is already decorating the school grounds, fishing rotten fruit out of school bags because apparently it was only in there in order to have a short holiday from the fruit bowl for a few weeks, supervising homework and inwardly raging because somehow Maths has changed and ok, you used to be pretty rubbish at it but now even your 8 year old understands more than you. Since when does Maths contain ‘sentences’ and wtf is a number line anyway?
Not to mention the day you had to somehow fashion an authentic laurel wreath out of a packet of basil and some dental floss because you only found out about Roman Day the night before, or when it was 8am and you were frantically spraying Febreze on the contents of the laundry basket because you’d just been told it’s pyjama day and everything was caked in filth. And despite what they said, wearing their fur-lined, long-sleeved onesie in 26 degree heat was not ‘problem solved’.
Then there is the bi-weekly ‘hunt the jumper’ game we all take part in. The rules are that you have to brave all the lost property bins around the school, knowing you’ll never quite recover from the devil’s stench that is a term’s worth of sweaty P.E. kits at the bottom of a giant, airless bucket. Following that, you tear the school apart brick by brick and eventually find the offending item screwed up at the bottom of their school bag and curse first yourself, then them, for believing it when they said it definitely wasn’t there.
And of course, there’s sports day which is basically centred around three things you have to ignore;
- the blistering heat.
- the look of thunder on your child’s face when you cheer their name and therefore reveal yourself to be related to them.
- the teacher’s eye so they don’t mistakenly think you are willing (let alone able) to take part in the parents’ race.
After a year of all that and more, everyone has reached the same stage of exhaustion. It becomes normal procedure to greet other parents in the playground by smiling in a tense kind of way and saying jovially but with a hidden desperation ‘only 3 more weeks to go!’ People are so fed up that they can’t even be bothered to make up a decent lie as to why they’re signing their kids in late. Everyone knows you’re supposed to write ‘traffic’ in the late book. Even if you walk to school. But as soon as July hits you start seeing the odd ‘alarm didn’t go off’ creeping in, and by the last fortnight all pretence has gone out of the window to be replaced with ‘wouldn’t get out of bed’.
And just when sibling violence levels have reached Def Con One and you’re halfway through researching good but distant boarding schools, it’s here! The last day of term! And for me, even though it couldn’t have come soon enough I still managed to sob my heart out during my eldest daughter’s last ever primary school assembly despite promising her I wouldn’t.
So the holidays are upon us at last, and I spent a blissful few days basking in the joy of not having to cajole/threaten/lever anyone out of bed and trying not to faint at signs of actual friendship between my girls. I started planning fun yet educational days out for us all, and even thought for a few precious moments that they might be a success. Basically, I began to relax. This lasted 7 days.
After that, with a renewed energy that we all know follows a week off, the arguing recommenced. At breakfast, elder child kicked younger child because apparently younger punched her first, at which point younger piped up with ‘I didn’t! I only tried to,’ and then couldn’t understand why she wasn’t off the hook. By lunchtime, the crime in question was ‘she was in my room’ and the punishment was severe. By teatime one of them had apparently looked at the other one for too long, which had nearly caused a fatal accident and I was berating myself for declaring weekdays ‘electronics-free time’. What on earth was I thinking? So I got the calendar out and am now counting down the days until school starts. Some people are never satisfied.
But if I can’t have September yet, then at least Bring on Bedtime!