Monday, October 31, 2005

Happy Half Term

Nothing pleases a maniac mum more then knowing that she has to spend quality time with her offspring. Particularly when the appalling weather means that said quality time is held indoors with four children pinging off the walls. Half term began with the usual mad Saturday activities rush (sadly the Fame School where my children go dancing doesn't acknowledge the existence of half term) - and I spent the morning dashing backwards and forwards between ballet lessons and jazz classes, trying to fit in feeding them somewhere along the line. In the meantime Spouse in timehonoured tradition did Manly Things That Need Doing At The Weekend. To be fair to him the wretched things do need doing, and Saturday morning is the only time he has. But the net result is that I end up chivvying small reluctant children from A to B, as I do every day of the week, and neither my blood pressure or my language are up to the strain. My eldest frequently tells me bloody isn't a very nice word. Oh dear. Another black mark against me in the perfect mother stakes. I also now understand from a recent article I read in the Telegraph that I am further damaging the children by taking them to all these activities, as they need time to play. As a typical angst-ridden 21st century mum, I of course took said advice to heart and started running through the activities each child does, to see if they are doing too much. No1: jazz dance (which she loves); No2: gym (which she loves); Nos 1&2 : brownies (which I hate - all those women in uniform - and they love): Nos1 &2: swimming (necessary); no 3: tennis (which she loves); nos 3&4: ballet (which they love - well actually no 4 going through iffy patch at the moment but I know that sure as eggs are eggs if I take her out of the class she'll decide she wants to do it again); Nos 3&4: swimming (necessary - see above). On reflection I'm not going to feel guilty about any of this, because the kids enjoy their activities, and quite frankly school sport is so useless these days they need to do something active. I would LOVE it if they could do some of this stuff in school time, but helas, they don't. So my purse and my sanity are compromised instead.
Anyway, I digress. Onwards with the tale of our happy half term.
When the children were smaller I always looked forward to the holidays as a relief from the school run. That aspect of it still stands. It is lovely not to have to get four children out of the door before 8.20am, but on the downside, they're all at home, and fighting.
Viz, the day will begin like this:
The three big ones won't play with the littlest one. I can't blame them really. Even I can see she is annoying and I gave birth to her. But the consequence is no4 spends most of the days trailing after them shouting, "Guys, guys!" until frustration peaks and she launches all of her rather solid three year old self into a full on attack. A sight which would daunt the bravest of hearts. She sits on them, bites them, kicks them, punches them. This usually results in her sisters locking her in a room and running away - at which point Mum turns apoplectic and tears everyone off a strip.
No 4 can generally be soothed with a DVD, so things calm down for ooh, about five minutes, and the next sound I hear is no 3 sobbing outside her bedroom. I leave whatever dull piece of housework is preoccupying me to discover no 2 has decided she wants to play exclusively with no 1. "It's not fair" (no 2's constant cry, along with "It's not my fault" - truly a child of the 21st compensation culture century), she says "I never get to play with no 1 alone". "But then it's not fair to me," wails no 3, not unreasonably. Unfortunately despite my best efforts at Solomon like solutions, the children will not resolve their differences, and my best efforts usually result in me losing the plot and shouting at them all, so no 2 & no3 run off in separate directions sobbing wildly, while no 1 watches with all the aloofness of a very superior nine year old. The aloofness lasts not a whisker though when no 2 drags her into the row, so in no time at all 3/4 are hysterical. It makes you want to lose the will to live. Really it does.
As it rained ALL day on Monday, this was pretty much how things went. Tuesday was somewhat better as I had some friends over, but they still all managed to fall out at the end, and if you'd heard the fuss that they made when I suggested it would be nice to play in the garden, you'd have thought I'd committed mass murder (mind you that notion is never very far from mind...)
On Wednesday I thought it would be a good idea to go out on an activity, besides which I couldn't stand the state of the house any longer. Tidied the previous day, in honour of friends' visit, it now resembled a disaster area - trashed doesn't describe it. So I took them up to the Downs, where we were going to embark on a spot of kite flying - only to discover that most of the bits of kite were missing - purloined no doubt for some complicated game and hidden, lord knows where. It is a curious thing about my children that they can manage to dispose of all their toys in all manner of strange places, so you find things were you least expect them: Bratz dolls get mixed up with bits of lego; doll's house furniture finds its way into the trainset; magnetic letters from the fridge find their way under beds... well you get the picture. It offends my anally retentive soul to the core to find that nothing IS EVER WHERE IT SHOULD BE. The question Whyyyyyy???? springs to mind - I'm sure the answer is out there somewhere along with the answer to what happened to the dinosaurs, but I'm damned if I know what it is.
So kiteflying was off, and my suggestions for a brisk walk were met with tepid enthusiasm, particularly when my wimpy daughters all freaked at the number of dogs prancing about. Having a phobia against our canine friends myself, I am not unsympathetic, but devote many hours to trying to pretend I'm not scared so they won't be. However some of these mutts were rather large and no 4 is rather small, so I couldn't cope with the stress and took them out to lunch instead. At least I didn't have to cook.
Thursday I had promised the cinema, and assumed that there were plenty of showings of Nanny McPhee, our chosen film. However, having spent the morning fruitlessly searching for a wedding present, I left it till lunchtime to book, and then discovered I couldn't us into the 3pm showing. So it had to be 5.30pm - a little late for the little ones, but that's the trouble with promises... Memo to self, DO remember never to promise something you aren't sure to deliver - after nine years of motherhood you'd think I'd learnt something...
The film turned out to be fabulous though, and the cinema broke out into spontaneous applause at the end. It was sooooo nice to go and watch an unashamedly straightforward kid's flick, rather then a sassy one which is trying to be all things to all people. Hurrah for Emma Thompson, say I. And I'm probably the only person on the planet who remembers Nurse Matilda, the books on which it was based.
Sprogs went grumbling to bed too late - that's another thing, as it's half term routine has gone to pot, so the little ones keep ending up half an hour later to the disgust of the big ones who demand more time too, until bedtime is ending up about 9pm. Far too late for Mum and Dad to get any quality time, so I have been making myself even more unpopular by sending them up before they are ready to go. Just for once it would be nice NOT to be the bad guy.
The last day of half term started off in a relaxed manner. Spouse had the day off as we were going to a wedding. Unfortunately his joy at having a day off work had resulted in us sitting up far too late and drinking too much red wine. So we got up late and then discovered that no1 had outgrown all her posh dresses (foolishly I hadn't checked). So I went on a quick sprint into town to get all four new dresses (Spouse being much fairer then me, insisted). I thought I'd be half an hour - but that was before I realised that we are between seasons for kid's clothes, and therefore no dresses could be had for love nor money. I eventually tracked four down in Next (the woman said , "What size do you require?" and nearly passed out when I said, "4,6,8 &10!") and rushed home to discover no one had moved from the sofa, we had an hour and half to get ready and nothing had been done about lunch. We intended to get McDonald's on the way, but by 2.30 I still hadn't got my makeup on so it was improvise all the way as we grabbed some food at a garage, and I made my face up in the car park. I ended up putting my nail varnish on five minutes before the bride arrived. I am SOOO looking forward to the day when I can just get myself ready...
Wedding itself was lovely, and no 1 daughter excelled herself by winning a dancing competition and being invited to play air guitar with the lead singer. She can now head bang with the best of 'em, as befits a child who had Bon Jovi played to her as a baby. A girl after my own heart...
The next day we were all so knackered I scuppered all activities barring no 1's jazz dance, and we only went to that because the class had devised a special dance for the parents. But at least I had Spouse with me - until he hived off next door to help his friend build a hovercraft (don't ask). I meanwhile, put my feet up on the sofa with the paper, a cup of tea and some ear plugs...

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