The school summer holidays are SERIOUSLY F*CKING LONG holidays when you’re a working mum of teenagers.
So it is with barely concealed excitement, (skipping around the house whistling… maybe), that I am preparing Kurt for his return back to school.
In my defence, I do mean to take his obviously devastated emotions seriously, as he gloomily prepares himself for war, (as you know, school and Kurt are not a match made in heaven), but I have also been at home with him for eight weeks.
It hasn’t all been bad. Avoiding the trauma of early school mornings is something I’ve missed about as much as childbirth, and I SO haven’t missed trying to locate that errant piece of school uniform at six in the morning from the many piles of clothing (each at different stages of the washing cycle) that accumulate around the house, either. I haven’t missed being late to work meetings because he’s missed the bus, or the manky, Listeria-infused sandwiches I generally discover at the bottom of his school bag.
And as any mother with a child with ADHD can vouch for, I’ve missed homework as much as I would an hourly upper lip wax in front of Chris Hemsworth.
But I have missed the structure and the routine. I have missed knowing that I will be able to start something and finish it without being interrupted; I have missed knowing how much food there is in the house at any one time, rather than having my pantry pillaged by perpetually starving teenagers who will innocently eat pizzas for breakfast and make smoothies from food groups that should never normally be mixed.
So as NC prepares to board her flight back from Thailand in readiness for another semester of rock identification and Kurt makes the most of his last few days of freedom before his next suspension, I am having to feign a sadness in front of them that I don’t genuinely feel. You’d be proud of me, for I am having to draw on my best thespian skills because even I realise that no child needs to know that their mother is secretly excited at the prospect of their quality/bonding time drawing to a close.
When the kids were younger and easily distracted by a bucket, spade and some wet sand, it was easy and relatively cheap to entertain them over the summer period. I envy my fellow bloggers with young kids who have flitted off up the coast and spent five weeks on the beach.
But it’s different when they reach their teens and would rather stick pins in their private parts than accompany their parents anywhere in public.
These days they spend a lot of time in the house, (‘growing’, apparently), or in bed, or in my pantry or my purse and there is rarely the reward of them suddenly doing something cute or loving to make up for the daily slog of parenting. There is a reason the teenage stage is (theoretically) the stage before they finally leave home – THEY ARE READY AND SO ARE YOU! The bigger they grow, the smaller the cabin becomes – especially when you find yourself locked up in it together for an eight week period.
But ever-conscious of their feelings, (because apparently teenagers have feelings too), I am trying not to appear too euphoric at the prospect of having juice in my fridge again, my make-up intact and back in its make up bag, my daily exercise no longer a regimen of picking up discarded towels, or having to eyeball the next selection of grunting, hairy teens across my breakfast table, waiting expectantly for scrambled eggs.
So I’m making a really conscious effort to be uncharacteristically nice and dare I say it, MUMSY, and so for the time being I’ve stopped:
Mentioning to Kurt how many hours are left until he goes back to school – I really should stop that timer in the kitchen too.
Exuberantly planning all the coffee mornings and celebrations I am organising with my girlfriends over the next week.
Break-dancing in the ‘Back to School’ section of Woolies.
Creating impressive organisation charts for the fridge for Kurt when I know they unsettle him.
Playing the seven dwarves ‘Hi Ho’ song from Snow White and ‘I’m So Excited’ by The Pointer Sisters to wake him up.
Unpacking and repacking his school rucksack, intermittently screaming ‘YES! YES! YES!’.