The kids have been off school for just over 3 weeks, making them just over half-way through the longer summer holiday (I know, once again my maths skill is startling!) and the cracks are starting to show (who am I kidding, there were cracks from day 1, but they are getting deeper now!).
At the start of the holiday the relief at being freed, albeit temporarily, from the shackles of the school-time routine, brought a relaxed lightness to the mood of the household. We got up late, mooched around the house, met up with friends to frolic in the sunshine unfettered by alarm clocks; or registers; or homework; or uniforms. We breathed a collective sigh of relief and sank into the welcoming embrace of the holidays.
Fast forward a few weeks though and relaxation (or possibly 24 hours a day in the same company) has started to take its toll.
Take the following events as exhibit a, b and c to illustrate my point:
Exhibit a: ‘I hate my mummy!’
This phrase has crept into our house in recent months and is heard with greater frequency than I would like (although I guess ‘not at all’ would be my preferred frequency), but it was largely absent in the first few weeks of the holiday. This week however, it made its return after an altercation with my eldest over the limited options available on my dinner menu.
This child, who was once a gloriously unfussy baby hoovering up any food that entered her reach, has become increasingly picky over the years and I have finally decided to confront the issue and stand my ground. To this end, I told her that I would be making curry for tea and she could either eat it, or leave it, but that I would not be making an alternative.
Needless to say, she was not happy with this prospect and cursed me for my attempts to starve her out (her perception, rather than my intention, honest!) flouncing out of the room (with a flourish reminiscent of my teenage self); storming upstairs and then delivering a note to the effect that she was leaving home because ‘no-one loves me.’
Exhibit b: Cry me a river
Another day, another meltdown, but this time from my youngest daughter. Having successfully negotiated a walk along the seafront, with scooters, through a torrential downpour, we rewarded ourselves with a quick go on the 2p machines at the fair and a well-deserved ice-cream (the ubiquitous summer essential!). We then continued on our merry way in relative peace, ice-creams dripping dangerously as we walked…..until disaster struck and Faith’s ice-cream took a nose-dive to the pavement. Epic fail.
Now, I may be hard-hearted at times, but I understand the utter misery caused by the loss of a much-anticipated ice-cream, let alone when it occurs before you have even had time to remove the flake, so I did empathise with the piercing cries of despair emitting from my daughter and attempted to offer comfort in the face of disaster. However, having offered said comfort plus an attractive compensation package (the promise of a replacement ice-cream when we reached our destination), I struggled to maintain sympathy when the gut-wrenching sobs went on, and on, and on….for a good 40 minutes until Faith’s face resembled a pink, puffy marshmallow and the tear-stains looked like they might become permanent. God forbid this child ever loses her favourite toy; I am not sure any of us would survive the ensuing flood!
Exhibit c: Sibling sabotage
The final installment in our mini-meltdown saga occurred today when the girls sat down to complete their new ‘painting by numbers’ pictures. Very quickly it became apparent that Ana’s picture was challenging and, if you have read previous posts, you will know that Ana does not cope all that well with challenge. In her world, it is important that you are able to do anything you set your mind to immediately and with ease. If this is not the case (and, surprise, surprise, it often isn’t) she reacts with tears, tantrums and wails of despair (back to despair again – whoopee!).
So five minutes in to the ‘practice picture’ and Ana’s patience was wearing thin: she couldn’t do it; she was rubbish and would ‘never be able to do anything EVER!’ So far, so typically melodramatic, but this time (this being the time of mid-holiday mood swings) she decided to go one step further and demonstrate her fury by swiping at her sister’s water causing it to tip over her carefully painted picture….cue more tears from Faith (amazed she had any left to cry!) and yet another letter declaring Ana’s intention to leave home.
Sigh, sigh and sigh once more.
According to my calculations, there are slightly too many days left in this holiday. And I should know, maths is clearly my strong point!