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We’re off on holiday. Sixteen hours in a car with four kids and 16 hours with no wi-fi and no possibility of receiving email. Hooray. It could in fact be longer than 16 hours given the problems in Dover and Calais and news that the French farmers are blockading the borders. It feels more like we may be entering a battlefield, with little sign of any real political will to find a European solution to the problem of people fleeing war and poverty, but there’s no other way to get to see the family in Spain.
Everyone who hasn’t been watching the news is very excited. Daughter three has been planning the holiday for months. She has created a multi-coloured check list with boxes to tick and everything. Only son has had about six bags packed for the last six weeks containing assorted Spiderman socks and knickers. The holiday essentials. He has become slightly obsessed with swap cards although he has absolutely no-one to swap them with until he returns to school in September. Still, he likes reading out all the powers they have and that should keep him busy for hours in the car.
Daughter two is not a fan of holidays that are in any place other than home. She has devoted the last week to her unending quest to raise our house up from the one star level it presently inhabits to at least three stars. She has scrubbed the bath and turned her parents’ bedroom into something that resembles a [small] suite at the Hilton. There are photos everywhere and she’s even cleared my desk of all the clothes I had piled on top of it and put some flowers she made out of plastic supermarket bags on top. She is determined to keep it pristine too. I have noticed that when I put clothes on the desk she comes in first thing in the morning and hangs them up or puts them in the washing. I feel I am a slight disappointment to her in the tidiness stakes.
Daughter one is watching the news and interested in the politics of the journey, but is also in a state of post-school languor. She has been watching films about the Beatles and her sister has cut her a fringe in a sort of sixties style. I merely stated that it looked a little bit top heavy. Big mistake. She has refused to go out and told me I think her hair is “ugly”. Nothing I have said subsequently has been taken into account.
I’m trying to get work done so I don’t have to do too much on holiday, but it’s down to the wire and has involved several 2am stints. So I’m a bit more tired than usual and hoping the journey is only the 16 hours, but I think it might be slightly longer. Still, it’s only a holiday for us. For those gathered at Calais it’s life and death and a reminder that it is impossible to put our heads in the sand and ignore the horrendous happenings all over the world today.
*Mum on the run is Mandy Garner, editor of Workingmums.co.uk.