Back to School
Back in June, I stared at the calendar, counting and re-counting the ten weeks holidays my children were about to get. I somehow thought that if I kept counting, it would shrink, or reduce or I’d realize I had mis-calculated. But I hadn’t and ten weeks of summer holidays loomed.
It was my first summer with no childcare and a lot of work to do. Yes I’m a writer so I can be flexible, but not that flexible. Not, ten weeks worth of flexible. I could feel the panic rising, how on earth was I going to keep them happy, entertained and busy for seventy days! How was I going to get my work done with three kids under seven bouncing off the walls of the house?
I soon became an expert on summer camps. I investigated every camp that was ever set up. Football, rugby, playball, tennis, dancing, arts and crafts, science, board games, computers, Glee-club camps…you name it, I knew about it. I could write a thesis on summer camps.
And so I signed them up for a few camps, worked in two weeks holidays abroad and sat back and held my breath…The summer flew by in a haze of sports, rain, wind, beach, sun (I was lucky enough to see the sun this summer), ice-creams, play-dates, movies, forest walks…and suddenly it was the last week.
I couldn’t believe it, where had the time gone. It had flown. We decided to go to Tayto Park for a last hurrah. I suddenly found myself a thousand feet up in the air, (OK it was actually 20 metres but it felt like I was at-one with the clouds), wearing a helmet that was three sizes too small for me and a very tight harness with lots of bits hanging off it that clanked ominously. As I climbed up to the top of the scaffolding to do the zipline extreme with my seven year old, I kept reminding him that it was alright to back out.
“There’s no shame in changing your mind,” I assured him, as he sprinted up yet another flight of stairs.
“I can’t wait,” he gushed.
“OK but if you get scared at the top, we can just come back down, it’s absolutely fine with me,” I puffed, trying desperately to keep up with him.
I hadn’t planned to throw myself off a scaffolding on a zip line, but when I saw his little eyes light up and he and begged to go, I couldn’t refuse. After all, it was the last week of the holidays.
When we eventually reached the top of the scaffolding, I tried not to show my son how terrified I was. I was being ‘fun’ Mum. We got hitched to the zipline and against all sane instinct, I looked down….it was a very very long drop.
I looked over at him, “are you sure?” I asked him one last time. He grinned, gave me the thumbs up and threw himself into the air. I swallowed the bile in my throat, said a silent prayer that I wouldn’t fall and die and followed him… After the initial shock, it was exhilarating.
We spent the last few days getting school books and bags and shoes and I cursed myself for not being organised and I queued to queue to queue in every shop with all the other harried parents.
And then, it was over. My three little people went back to school this morning and as they stood in the hall with their school bags on their backs, I felt sad and emotional. It was over. The summer holidays were finished. The lazy hazy days with nowhere to be and nothing urgent to do were at an end. Instead of feeling relieved that they were going back to school and my days would be filled with calm and the space to write, I felt bereft. I waved them off with a lump in my throat and wondered how I’d fill my days.
And then I received an e-mail from my editor, wondering how the next book was coming along and reminding me of my imminent deadline….