Countdown to the return


It’s the end of the summer and I feel like time is running out. Next week the whole back to school thing begins again, but this time with the added twist of secondary school. This means I have to get up even earlier as I will now have children in three different locations. That means three different sets of rules and paperwork to contend with. I’m already tired just thinking about it.

We had a bumper weekend to finish before we set into the last week of holidays, which is really a preparation for the big return. We went to Southend on Monday in a fit of enthusiasm, despite my partner’s moans about the weather and Britain in general. Daughter one had been raving about Rage, a rollercoaster thingy, since her school trip and my partner had said he would go on it with her. That was before he saw it. It includes a 100 foot [I think] sheer drop. “Is that Rage?” he asked trying to disguise the growing concern in his voice as we looked down on Adventure Island from the shopping centre. “I’m not going on that one.”

I had earlier discounted myself on the grounds that rollercoasters actually make me feel as if I am dying. “Why would you pay to be essentially tortured?” I asked. Daughter three looked anxious. “I don’t want to go on a rollercoaster if it makes you die,” she said. I then had to spend several minutes assuring her that rollercoasters are not deadly. It’s just mummy doesn’t do roller coasters. Not for anyone.

My partner picked a slightly less worrying rollercoaster-lite and the girls seemed content with that. Daughter three, the baby and I opted for a very placid ship thingy that went gently up and down on a small wave. Lovely. In fact, I could have done with a bit of a bigger wave so I foolishly agreed to daughter one’s petition to go on something called Pharaoh’s Fury. As soon as I was in the queue and past the point of no return I realised my mistake. It looked decidedly fast and it lasted for at least several minutes. Arg.  I asked if I could sit in the middle the shield the impact. “No, mum. The heaviest person goes at the end,” said daughter one. Great. As we approached the head of the queue I kept repeating to myself “it can’t be worse than childbirth”. At least it was quicker. I adopted the panic position, closing my eyes and hoping it would all go away. Remarkably, this worked. I emerged with a smile of triumph on my face. “Are you crying, mum?” daughter one inquired. With relief.

Later that day I had a bad moment. In my defence, someone had deleted the picture editing programme from my computer [I now suspect it was me…] and the sellotape had gone missing. Not very big issues on their own, but I was tired, the baby hadn’t slept, I was worried about work and, of course, the Wedding. I had a rant about small people not pulling their weight in the home. “You’ve been off for five weeks and what have you done to help?” I raged. “I do everything – the washing, the cleaning, the guinea pigs…” Daughter three looked at me perplexed. “I helped do the water for the guinea pigs twice,” she said, her big brown eyes looking affronted at the sheer injustice of it all. I calmed down as she sat on my lap and I explained that I was a bit tired as I had a lot of work to do. She asked worriedly: “Do they know it’s the summer holidays and that you have FOUR children?” She can’t quite believe why this dastardly thing called work is stopping her mum from having fun and playing games with her kids all day long or that her mum is quite looking forward to having 100% work-focused time to herself in around six days time [the countdown has begun…]

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