Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Ode to Half Term

Oh Half Term,
Bane of my life at the best of times
But even more so
In Autumn. 
Scourge of Parents everywhere.
(At least let’s be honest and call you by your true reveal,
“A nice holiday for teachers”.)
How much do I loathe thee?
Let me count the ways:

1. You are 2 weeks long.  This is wholly unacceptable.  If I wanted to spend 17 days in a row with my children, I would be homeschooling them and spending the school-fees money I save on shoes and anti-depressants.

2. The clocks have gone back (as if the holidays weren’t long enough as it is). What was once the best day of the year has, with parenthood, become the most dreaded.  Remember the joy of waking up on the last Sunday in October, and realising it was only 9am?  Then snuggling back under your duvet until 11 (or 12, or whatever time you goddamn pleased)?  Now it’s a case of stuffing carbs into the kids until 9pm the night before, in the hope – inevitably vain – that they’ll sleep until at least 6.30am.  Although, really, what’s the point because the Baby will be awake at 5.30am anyway, so everyone might as well join the early-morning party.  And so the minutes tick by and the day looms long and large in front of you – until it suddenly plunges into darkness at 4pm, and your plans to leave the house at some point collapse around you, and you stare into the cabin-fevered abyss for 3 more long hours... (AND every clock in the house now tells a different time, so even if I did get around to leaving the house, I’d be late for everything.  As usual.)

3. Seasons of Mists and Mellow Fruitfulness, My Arse. There is nothing mellow about the onset of winter.  Everyone in the house has the South London Cough, the Boy has what can only be described as cat-sick flowing from his ear, and I’ve been in bed for the past 2 days with some sort of yucky tummy bug (by “in bed”  I mean of course that I fall into bed for a few minutes, before some emergency – hair tangled in a fan, a crayon stuck up a nose, a poo that just WON’T COME OUT – drags me out again).

4. You are 2 weeks long, II.  And so I find self scraping the bottom of the time-killing barrel for time-killing activities.  Recent highlights – all of which were individual pursuits, embarked upon with sincerity and anticipation - have included:
  • Going to inspect the blown-down tree in the park.  (Confirmed it was blown down, then came home.)
  • Walking the neighbourhood to see how many houses have Halloween decorations (only one – this is England after all.)
  • Conker collecting.  (Is there anything less exciting? Ah, yes there is:)
  • Puddle-jumping. 
  • Walking the kids blind-folded to the shops (hilarious to begin with, torturous thereafter.  Especially when they refused to take off the blindfolds in the shop, and looked insane.)
  • Collecting all the pennies in the house. (24.  “I’m RICH!” the Boy exclaimed.)
  • Treasure hunt (tin foil pieces + overgrown back garden + high winds and rain)
  • Indoor hopscotch (masking tape + wooden floor;  who knew 5 and 3 year olds could be so violently competitive?)
  • Table drawing (markers + cheap Ikea wipe-down table.  NOT ON THE FLOOR.)
  • Puppet show (dolls + back of sofa.  It was ten minutes before I realised they weren’t being quiet out of awe and joy, they’d simply walked off.)
By far the worst was whatever brainstorm resulted in my taking the children to “help” with the supermarket shopping.  It is not something I will ever be repeating again. When I finally got back to the car I was literally shaking from stress. The pinnacle of awfulness wasn’t the broken eggs, or the usual social-tourettes from the Boy (“What is ON that man’s FACE???”), or the realisation that my children walk ALL OVER me (“groceries” included 3 of those awful £1 toy thingies you get from the slot machines; several comics; a wooden necklace; a multi-pack of  some ghastly “fruit flavoured” drink; a dissolving Buzz Lightyear soap thing);  no, it was my 10-minute sprint around the Olympic-stadium-sized shop – a stadium which is flanked by a busy high street on one side, and a busy car-park on the other -  barking at every worker I saw to help me find the Girl. They all looked at me as if I was crazy, while totally ignoring the Boy who was also manically zig-zagging around, barking his own orders.  In retrospect, we probably did seem somewhat off-balance. (She appeared suddenly in the dairy aisle, gleefully covered in glitter, refusing to divulge any tales of her supermarket adventures).

Oh half term.
Get thee to a nunnery
Or anywhere else,
but here.  


  1. Yep, I'm with you there. I always think the world is divided in two: those that end the holidays with "Oh we had a wonderful time, they were over too soon" and "thank God that is over and we can all get back to some purposeful life again". No prizes for guessing which camp I'm in.

  2. I recently met someone from Singapore and barely restrained myself from saying "Oh, a friend of mine is moving there!" Meaning you.

    1. Aren't you sweet! (I hope you pounced on her and said "I know a person moving there who knows NOONE,and if you have children and spend the day longing for 7pm you two would get along very well...")