Janet Christie's Mum's the Word - Holidays are no time to relax if you’re a parent
I’m out and about and children are everywhere. It’s the school holidays and I hadn’t even registered. This is what freedom feels like.
There was a time when the dates were seared into my retina, the timetable of my life, accompanied by the worry about what I was going to do with my kids.
Holiday clubs? Pricey.
Feral roaming? Character building but potentially requiring trips to A&E and apologies.
Take time off and fill their days with fun-packed, stimulating activities like my parents did with me? (I still remember fondly a brass rubbing/frottaging holiday in Norfolk my mother came up with: hours kneeling on cold flagstones in flinty churches producing life-sized butcher paper images of knights and their ladies, the thrill towards the end of the week when I was allowed to use the expensive gold crayon and not just the finger-staining black one. But it’s probably illegal now, and indoor activities weren’t great for my own brood - too many breakages).
All three options are stressful and for those with children to entertain I sympathise. But spare a thought for those with adult children for whom holiday season should be a vague remembering that they’re away somewhere halfway through the week. Except that breeding offspring has a way of coming back to bite you on the bum.
Cue a phone call from Youngest Child at her holiday hotel.
Me: Are you having a lovely, safe, time?
Her: Croak. Yes. Amazing. Festival nights, pool afternoons. The only thing missing, maybe, is … culture, like when I go on holiday with you. But it’s amazing.
(Culture? This is a surprise but right enough, she’s not whined about being in ‘places with plaques’ for a few years now. Promising.)
Her: And the best thing… you won’t like this, but…
Me: I’m so over your tattoos, it’s fine, although I wouldn’t advise you going to South America.
Her: Not that. I did a bungee jump. Yay!
Me: Silence. (Because they always remember the first thing you say, no matter how many decades you spend qualifying it and sucking up to them).
Her: I’ve ALWAYS wanted to do that and now I have!
Me: Oh well done poppet. Very brave. And you won’t be needing to do that again now will you? Ever.
Her: No. And it was absolutely fine. Apart from a bit of whiplash…