Summer holidays started quite early for my lovely brood of four. We have, so far, spent fifty days in a summer glow bliss. Wait, I retract that absolutely fabricated statement of mine. Did I really use the word “bliss”?
Okay, in all fairness yes we were all in good spirits initially. The last school bell rung resulted in group hugs of euphoria and collective sighs of relief from mothers galore. No more early morning wake ups, pesky lunchboxes to be filled with some semblance of a balanced diet, deviant socks that won't match and who cares about homework? In fact I caught myself humming Beyoncé's latest anthem “Freedom! Freedom, where are you! But unlike Beyoncé I seem to have found it with the advent of the summer holidays! Though this sense of euphoria sadly lasted exactly three days in my household. The so-called warm summer bliss that I ran head long into, dissipated and instead I crashed with my good humour in tatters into a brick wall. The kids were bored, and all hell broke loose.
With busy work schedules haunting us, my husband and I found it very difficult to plan elaborate holiday getaways, thus the children were initially left to their own devices. Our naive parenting motto being there's four of them, let them entertain themselves taking precedence,... there must be some perks of having a large family! Much like the elaborate battles fought by our forefathers, warring parties were recruited and battle lines drawn. It was the older two versus the younger pair and the battles were loud, colourful, mutinous and just downright dirty. Unfortunately the innocent victim of this constant sibling warring, was not the participants themselves, but in fact, me, the guileless bystander. At my every act I was questioned thoroughly why I didn't take a side, why did I gave a popsicle to one and not the other, in soap drama style the degree and depth of my love was questioned severely by my three year old, until in utter vexation and under extreme torture I gave up and said they could watch TV!
Initially silence and duplicitous peacefulness reigned on the household. I think I actually heard the kookaburra laugh with glee for the younger two, their long lashes unblinking, immersed themslevs in the latest Nickelodeon series. The preteen was tweeting, Instagramming, WhatsApping and bandwidth guzzling, her fingers moving faster than a speeding bullet, and my son, the lone male child was lost, in the latest Xbox adventure saga, all ties of communications severed with family. Problem solved you would think, but try and wean the children of their technology driven distractions, then emerged zombified, caricatures of my children, easily irrational, morose-faced only to ask can we leave the table now to go return to our distractions. This was a terrible state of affairs indeed I thought, my immediate solution being unplug the TV, hand over the mobiles and get that Xbox in the cupboard, and when they protested what did I give them? Ice cream!
They were sugary sweet happy indeed, gloriously overjoyed, and so was I. Gone were the moody creatures that had spawned out of the technology driven distractions. They ran around in glee, sang songs and in good camaraderie enjoyed each other's company. All till the sugar wore out, then disaster. The moodiness and crankiness filled the household, their grumpiness fueling my exasperation. We were both, mother and child lost in a conundrum of self-induced anguish. Also being the holidays I felt no need for proper bedtimes, children stayed up late and slept in late. With the hours spent in between in carefree abandonment with nothing to occupy their time. Problem solved you would think, but we are back to the earlier troublesome situation, the kids are bored, and trouble was soon brewing.
So I learnt a lot this summer, I learnt that kids cane never really be abandoned to their own free will. That they still crave and require routine, with scheduled activities and proper bedtimes. They need to adhere to their healthy eating with treats at certain times. Just because it is the summer holidays, abandonment is not an option. I also learnt that you cannot always distract your children with summer camps, activities, play dates and so on, but what they really crave is your company. Time spent with a parent cannot be compared to anything else. Give them that time, for once this summer is gone you will never get back.