Half-term guilt

Half term can be a struggle if you are working and if you face the eternal battle of trying to get teenagers off screens…

Half term


Half term is over and I feel guilty because I’ve mainly been working. On the positive side, part of that work involved going to a festival. Only son is not a big fan of festivals, having been dragged to them from a young age and he seems to have a very vivid memory of one in particular where I booked a ‘Hobbit house’ for the whole family. It was billed as being carved into a hill and I confess that I bigged it up a lot to get the kids on side for the festival. Plus it was only son’s birthday coming up. It turned out to be a very, very small, dark space [the clue was in the name], with only son topping and tailing with his sister, and it was extremely damp because the shower was just next to the bunk beds. It didn’t help that the weather wasn’t great.

In fact, so much has it marked his memory that only son brought it up in his first words to the Air b n b host this time round. “At least it’s not as bad as the Hobbit House” he said directly to the man after ascertaining that there was no tv. I leapt in to change the subject. Only son finds it very difficult to be diplomatic.

In any event, he actually enjoyed the festival this time round, mainly because it turns out he is a nature lover [but not nature near his house, it seems, due to the proximity of people] and the festival is set in a beautiful area full of sheep. He also went to record shops and had some good food in between sessions on everything from AI to climate change and older women. So all in all not too bad a start to half term, despite it taking eight hours in traffic jams to get to said festival.

But the moment we got home only son developed a bad cold. Only son doesn’t do illness well. He sat on the sofa surrounded by tissues and a bowl of steaming water with a teaspoon of Vick’s Vapour Rub in it. He had the paracetamol on a timer and he felt very, very sorry for himself. He was not ill enough, however, to stop eating. So he sent me a long list of difficult-to-find foodstuffs when I did the weekly shop on Tuesday. I asked if he’d like to accompany me to point out said items. Apparently, he was too sick. I wondered in passing if this was how ‘man flu’ starts and whether I was perhaps indulging it, despite the physical impossibility of me making him come to the supermarket.

He managed to string the illness out for the next two days when I suggested a walk and taking him to a city I was going to for work.

Mid-week I had a failed attempt to talk about sex education because I had a sudden panic that, by child four, I’d forgotten whether I’d explained anything or not, apart from the idea that choking people is not ok, which I’ve mentioned many times. I feel now that I may have slightly scared him about the whole sex thing. It’s a fine line to tread – trying to counter what you think is out there on the internet and how young people are interpreting all of the messages they are getting from peers, tv and social media. The more I do this parenting thing, the harder it seems to be to do it well, but maybe just making them feel loved is good enough. I hope so.

By Thursday his dad was back from a trip to see the family and he did make it out to pick him up.

This weekend it has been only son’s birthday. What did he want to do? Get a takeaway and watch a good film. He only seems to like the scary kind at the moment. He asked if his grandmother and uncle could come. I know for a fact that his grandmother does not do scary films and would indeed maintain a running critical commentary throughout the film if forced to watch it. In the event, she fell asleep.

Most of only son’s half-term was spent on screen therefore – hence the feeling of failure. I did my normal championing of books, painting, pottery, music and so forth and introduced him to the delights of LPs, but the wondrous mysteries of Splatoon won the day.



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