For the first time since being a school child I find myself NOT wishing the summer holidays to be over. This is new.
Between the end of my own education and having children I have always longed for the end of the summer holidays. Don’t get me wrong, I always wished I could have 6 weeks off from whatever I was doing but the summer holidays are actually a right pain in the arse when it’s not ‘your’ summer holidays.
Going away costs a bloody fortune, everywhere’s packed to the rafters with kids and parents, the roads are busy and those not working through them always look smug or exhausted.
When we first moved to our current house I especially hated the summer holidays because of the bell ringers. I took the battery out of the doorbell about 3 weeks after moving in here and 6 years later it has never been replaced. I will never forget the sight of significant other frozen in a racing start pose by the front door while he waited for the local teens to ring the doorbell and leg it at midnight or the funniest option – post a frog through the letterbox! He caught them once and I ask no questions about what went down because it stopped for about 2 years after that.
The summer holidays, like time in general, seemed to go on forever when I was partaking in them. Long lazy days at the park, building dens in the wood, exploring along the canal and later on going to town with friends, swimming at the outdoor pool and getting in all kinds of trouble that we hoped our parents would never discover. Hazy memories of first kisses and first other things, sunny days (I have no recollection of it ever raining for more than 5 minutes when I was on holiday) and the firm belief that the ice cream man would be driving past any minute.
Today, he drove past my house and the sheer excitement oozing from my children transported me back to my youth and the simple pleasures I enjoyed just by being off school in the sunshine. I know our weather’s not much cop these days and as adults we only ever seem to remember the rainy days but it fills me with sentiment when I see my own squigglers running naked round the garden with water pistols and I know these are the moments they will carry with them.
They will remember the hours spent on the swing, the days sat shrivelling and shivering in the ice cold paddling pool. Trips to feed the ducks, play in the park and friends coming to visit.
It warms me to realise that they won’t remember the days where I say no. No I won’t play, no you can’t have another biscuit, no we’re not going anywhere today. My half hearted parenting is not what will stay with them but my ice cream van treats and giving in to 5 year old’s daily request for takeaway once a week will. They will remember being let loose with a box of chalks and drawing on anything that didn’t fly away in the garden. They will remember our holidays and they will remember sleepover’s at Nanny’s house. They will remember with the same fondness I have for my own youth, how long the summer holidays lasted. And as they get older and freer, they will make their own different yet scarily similar memories to mine about friends, adventures, mishaps and not getting caught.
Now I am working again and enjoying all the perks of a term-time only contract I can once again appreciate the simple joy of 6 weeks off. Yes I still have the children to look after so there’s no chance of recapturing my own youth. But I do now have the chance to see friends, spend time with family and enjoy the squigglers and all their random questions.
I still don’t like the overrun play structures, the gangs of parents at the park or the ridiculous amount of traffic. I miss being able to take preschoolers out and be one of only a handful of people at the beach, the farm, even soft play hell. The swimming pool resembles an overcrowded fish tank on a rainy day and the farms are filled with clearly traumatised animals desperate to attack at the first sign of an open gate.
Our summer holidays are 3 weeks in and it has taken until now for my daughter to start resembling herself again rather than a hormone-fuelled miniature teenager and it has also taken this long for my son to stop trying to kill his sister just because she’s here all day. And to be honest its taken this long for me to find my groove as this morning was the first time in the summer holidays that I have taken the hoover out of the cupboard and used it instead of just moving it from room to room with good intentions.
But I work in a school now. So no matter how much you hate me for it I’m allowed 6 weeks off. And I plan to make every single day last as long as it did in my youth when time moved slower, the days were sunnier and everything was simple. The squigglers are tiring, hard work, whiny and annoying on some days and on others they are happy, playful, able to entertain themselves and eachother and generally lovely to be around.
And you’ll know when its a good day because I’ll be looking all smug.