The end of the school holidays is bitter-sweet, like the morning after a good night out. On the one hand, it’ll bring a reprieve from the tornado of craziness that’s been fuelled by lax-living and late-bedtimes. On the other hand it heralds the start of the longest term of the year and the need to ** get organised ** once more.
We seem to have lost a general sense of law and order, along with other bits and bobs that every now and then we realise we can’t find. Our kids left structure and decorum behind when they said goodbye to their teachers and have since revelled in their decent into feral beings.
Our house now bears testament to the time they’ve spent wrestling and ricocheting around it: sand in boots and pockets (also seemingly a permanent feature of our hallway and bathroom); dens made with all the bedding they can get their hands on; more clothes being stood on than worn; cardboard boxes in every direction; and new marks on both carpets and walls.
Every now and then I move stuff from one surface to another in an attempt to create some space, but I might as well be trying to hold back a tsunami – I can’t keep up with the pace with which it is being scattered… I’m like the mythical Greek Tartarus, forever cursed to roll a boulder uphill, only to watch it roll down again.
But it’s not just our house which is showing signs of wear and tear – everyone within it now resembles the crowd on Sunday morning at Glastonbury. The styling can only be described as ‘fancy-dress fusion’, as evidenced by the two banana outfits lying in wait on our hall table. Even if our guys leave the house wearing normal(ish) clothes, they come back in their friends’ fancy dress costumes (we currently have a ‘sheep’ and ‘skeleton’ in need of re-homing). Yet it doesn’t stop with how they look, their humour has been transported into another dimension too – they’ve cultivated their own in-jokes and are now a double-act to rival Bill and Ted (sending themselves into hysterics and me in search of a dark room).
Every request which diverts attention from playing, from brushing teeth to getting dressed, is met with a similar response as if they’d been asked to do a shift in a coal mine. It’s so ‘Lord of the Flies’ that I’m half-expecting a Channel 5 producer to shout ‘Cut!’ and to discover we’ve unknowingly been taking part in a ‘Summer Holiday Truman Show’. Whilst some think it’s a great idea to let kids run wild, I’m not entirely sure that this is what they meant. It’s not so much ‘running wild’, as post-apocalyptic.
Given that things have started to run away with themselves, I’m hoping that the sight of school uniform acts as a silent cue that the party’s over. If absence makes their hearts grow fonder, perhaps there’ll be even more gains to be made from being back at school. Like classic products of modern parenting, our guys have got a little confused over who should be making the rules and who should be following them. They’re also not backwards about coming forwards to assert their rights – and it’s leaving me feeling the burn.
Despite this, I’m also a tad ambivalent about the return to school and the slavish routine that comes with it. The drop-offs, pick-ups, homework, forms, special projects, events and extra-curricular activities – marking the passage of time as relentlessly as a metronome. Although holidays are a chance to move at a slower pace, indulge in some family time and to throw daily rhythms out of the window, I guess you can have too much of a good thing… it’s just a shame there’s no half-way house!