‘Am I going to preschool today?’ Asks Mayhem suspiciously as I sort through Milk’s uniform two days before term starts.
‘No. No one is going to school today.’
‘So, I’m not going to preschool ever, ever again?’
‘Errr. Yes, you are.’ I say shaking out Milk’s jumpers in the hope they will look new.
‘Awww this is the worst day EVER!’ cries Mayhem throwing himself on the sofa in a huff.
It is definitely not the worst day ever. I know because I have lived through several of those during this holiday.
My husband and I have somehow managed to survive six weeks with three boys on an average of four hours sleep a night.
Even the rabbits get more sleep than us, and they don’t have to make their own breakfast.
We have stumbled through most days in a blur of coffee and cake.
I never drank coffee before this holiday. I wonder what I will be shoving down my neck by Christmas.
As far as I’m concerned, the summer holidays are an opportunity to create a world away from school. A world of little structure, no time pressure, no rules. Just fun.
And this involves becoming sloths.
‘Are any of you going to get dressed?’ my husband says one day on his return from work.
‘Not really worth it now is it? Only two hours until bedtime.’ I reply throwing popcorn into my mouth as the boys scramble for the pieces I drop.
Milk and Mayhem have stopped using the toilet, and taken to throwing open the front door and peeing off the doorstep.
‘Not on my tomato plants!’ my husband calls from the bedroom as Milk aims with glee.
A lasting memory is a naked Mayhem racing towards me on a packed Suffolk beach screaming, ‘I need a wee! I need a wee! I need a wee!’ before relieving himself in the breakwater as toddlers and their paddling parents looked on in dismay.
I also discovered the sweet spot of child care.
As long as you don’t have to be anywhere at any particular time, acting normal, looking after three small children isn’t too bad.
However, in my effort to avoid leaving the house and the £100 ‘big days out’, we have pretty much destroyed our home.
Midnight has worked out how to open all the cupboards and particularly enjoys his Tupperware parties, and Milk and Mayhem have brought most of the garden inside.
I also wonder how we are going to wean the boys off ice cream – my husband’s holiday mantra is ‘it’s ice-cream time every time the sun comes out’, which this summer, it really did. A lot.
As September arrives the school run looms.
I don’t like the person I become on the school run.
I am the crazed woman marching along in porridge-stained baggy trousers, wild hair scraped into a bun, still trying to swallow a piece of dry toast I managed to shove in my mouth before we left the house.
I am the frantic one pushing the buggy too fast for my children to keep up, barking orders back and forth answering the same questions over and over again.
‘Come on we’ll be late; do you want to be late? Don’t run in front of that driveway. Did you even look? Milk leave that stick behind. Stop running! Walk faster. Slow down! No, we can’t pick blackberries now. I don’t know why that old man has no hair. Watch out for that dog poo! I don’t know, probably because the owner doesn’t want to pick up poo. That’s why I don’t want a dog. You want a dog? But you’re scared of dogs….’
As we get ready for bed the night before school, I ask the boys what the best part of their holiday was.
‘Playing,’ says Milk.
‘Ice cream,’ says Mayhem.
I think my best parts were probably the smallest things too.
Hold them close, they are going back to their other world now.