Monday, 8 August 2016

It's The Summer of 2016

I know parents that can't wait for the holidays and for the school term to end. They plan detailed activities designed to stimulate and entertain until September brings a new school year. I am not one of these parents....

Before I begin can I just say that I adore my children and I take my duties as their Father very seriously. I have the responsibility of preparing them for the big and untamed world and it is a job that is both daunting and far reaching in its scope. I do love seeing them grow and develop, their little characters becoming clearer and clearer as year moves to year but the summer holidays fill me with a kind of dread that paralyses to the core. Last year I wrote about their obsession with Minecraft and how seemingly pointless difficulties can start World War III. Well this year its all different, because both of them have now discovered football and FIFA 17 is about to be unleashed. You see, last year it was only my 10 year old who was the passionate kicky ball fan. He had just started playing for a local team and was honing his skills ready for the new season. In the space of just one year the infection has spread and now I have two budding Ronaldo's to contend with. They both support Manchester City and they both talk about transfers and form as if they are diminutive managers themselves. They both argue about the best way to top the Premiership and if it doesn't involve football they don't care. I love that they are passionate about hobbies and I actively encourage them to learn more about their chosen interest. They both have different groups of friends and, whilst it annoys my 7 year old that he cannot go to the park on his own, he has a lovely friend next door. 

Working from home does have its advantages and although I find myself grounded for large amount of the holidays at least they don't look to me for constant entertainment. The problem with any parent is that the growing pains that afflict the young also effect us as well. I love that they are growing up but I also hate it as well. That horrible feeling of being surplus to requirements is creeping in and whilst I know they love me I feel their independence intensely. Looking back at last years comments I feel somewhat of a hypocrite as I am complaining about the fact that they aren't constantly under my feet anymore. The regular trips to the park still happen but it feels different somehow. Is this what empty nest syndrome feels like? I am probably not understating the seismic change that has happened, that is about to happen, in that my 10 year turned 11 and is starting "Big School" this year. I remember that one and he has no idea what is about to happen to him and the increase of homework is going to rock him to his foundations. I've tried to warn him but they never listen do they?

Look at this lovely family, the smiles of happy contentment, of togetherness. Here is the over simplified saccharine sweet lie that we are sold, pre parenting. There will be beautiful moments of family sharing that will be Hallmark card moments to treasure. Summer holidays spent being all family like and delighting in the very pleasure of each others company. Balderdash! Yeah, sure there are moments that tug at the heart strings. That moment when your child snuggles close to you as they drift off to sleep. Moments where they look in love at you, fully appreciating just how utterly awesome you are as their parent. But there are far more moments when the time and money you have spent on a trip to a theme park feel like they are completely slapped back in your face. That one hurts and I cant imagine it will ever stop hurting anytime soon. I know kids are basically selfish and we all had that aspect to our upbringing but it still floors me! Actually the picture above was taken from a shocking article which highlights that many struggling families will spend collectively £10 Billion on childcare during the summer holidays. All of a sudden I feel a little guilty about whinging that my children get on my nerves during the holiday. Whilst I have to work long hours and late into the evenings to catch up with the lost productivity during the holidays at least I have the flexibility to do so. Working from home means I get the bests of both worlds and I don't have to spend my earnings paying for costly childcare. I really feel a huge amount of sympathy for parents who have no choice but to seek out summer camps so that they can continue to work.

I am all about building memories and keeping lines of communication open, that really over used addage of "no one gets to the end of their lives and wishes they spent more time in the office", its about making every moment count. But its also about not losing your mind and your identity in the endless arguments over FIFA or whether Aguero is really going to be on form this season. I love my children and I know that one day they will have grown up and will be repeating everything I've just written. But sometimes, the summer holidays feel like they are never going to end. Happy holidays! 

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