I freely admit, I am one of those awful mothers who finds it almost impossible to say no to my children. Yes, one of those mothers that all other mothers snarl at. I just really struggle. I try my best to put my foot down, and then crumble under the mass of whiny voices and fluttery eyelashes… Partly because I drown in guilt, partly because I am just too bloody exhausted to argue! I know, I know, I can hear my mother saying “you’re making a rod for your own back!!” And damn it she’s right! The summer holidays have just about broken me, yet I am already missing the little darlings, two hours into term 1!
I just dropped Poppy off for her first day at another new school, and Monty for his first day of school ever! Such a huge day for us all! It kind of makes everything else seem insignificant right now! I’ve almost forgotten that they had gummy sweets for breakfast to make the upcoming trauma taste a little sweeter! How am I supposed to tell you all about what we have been up to when my heart is thumping, my eyes seem to be full of this awful salty water, and my mind is still in school where I left Monty doing puzzles and Poppy crying!
Australia day seems like an age ago. This time last year we were surrounded by friends in Sydney, we had friends from the UK here to party with us too! This year, having just moved, we were a little light on the friends to hang with, so it fell to yet another ‘family day out’. We have learnt over the years that taking the children out for the day is far easier than staying in with them; surprisingly they behave like little angels when we’re doing the things they want to do. Go figure! So, instead of kicking back on a sun lounger in the garden, sipping beers, waving flags, and covered in Australia day tattoos, we packed a bag, threw in some old bananas and off we went.
We drove out to the edge of the Mornington Peninsula to The Enchanted Adventure Gardens. The drive there was spectacular! The route took us to the top of Arthurs Seat State Park, the ocean views were magnificent; a scene we just hadn’t banked on, having not looked at the route we were taking. Thanks Sat Nav! It was such a treat to see this unexpected view! We spent the day playing games, walking the canopy walkways (because you’re not allowed to run! Tell that to the bloody tourists!) We did the ‘Bush Adventure Scramble’ which was a fab obstacle course for the kids nestled in amongst the giant trees of the Arthurs Seat Forest. I spent most of the time doubled up, laughing hysterically as the children got stuck on various rope nets, tangled up in the stretchy strings or plopped off the wobble board into the mud! I really am going to hell. Screams of “heeeeelp Muuuum” were met with silent laugher as I crossed my legs, terrified I may have my own little accident. There really is no end to the fun to be had at the Enchanted Gardens! We made our way down the ‘sculpture walk’ past the beautifully carved life like figures, to the Tube Slides and settled there for what seemed like hours. The rings are huge inflatable tyres, which need to be dragged up the hill before you can slide all the way back down again, whilst being sprayed with water! The children insisted I had a go; the delightful chap at the top pushed me full pelt off the ledge! It was then, as I was careering backwards downhill I decided that this wasn’t really my thing! I like to be able to see where I’m going especially at speeds of about 40kms an hour. Not only that but when I’m sent hurtling backwards downhill, being hosed with a fine spray, my hair takes a turn for the worse. I arrived at the bottom to gasps from small children, clutching onto their parents as Chewbacca’s wife prized herself out of a tiny tyre. Not a pretty sight I can assure you!
Once I regained the use of my legs, and the children had become tired of dragging their tyres up the hill, we headed for the 10ft tall conifers that make up the main Maze! Oh yes there’s more than 1! Tim took the children in. I waited at the entrance, a hairy mess in amongst the most beautiful flowers; partly because I am terribly claustrophobic, and partly to steal a little “me time”, still getting over the tyres. I was hoping they would get lost for a few hours, but no sooner had I patted my mane down, and got my phone out of my pocket to check Facebook, they were back by my side begging to go to the Lolly Shop! I punched the air, and whimpered a little “Yay!!” We filled them full of sugar, then hopped back into the car to head to our next destination!
Having seen such beautiful photos of Sorrento, Tim and I decided we would go and have a look seeing as we were already pretty close. Sorrento is a beautiful seaside resort that describes itself as “a largely upper class area”, so right up our street! The beach is truly beautiful, however today being a public holiday, you could have mistaken it for Alicante in July! The children were sweaty, grubby, I had bird poo on my t shirt, and Tim had hat hair! We didn’t stay too long with the cool cats of Sorrento! We sat at the Continental Hotel (also known as the Conti! Of course) and glugged our beers whilst the kids sipped lemonade. (I know, more sugar! Shoot me now!) We had a picnic, ate ice-creams, even had hot chips on the beach. Worn out, sandy, sweaty and full of E numbers and processed sugar, we got back in the car to start our short journey home. Five minutes on the road, and Tim and I spot an enormous funfair. Please God I pray the Barbie movie keeps their eyes fixed on the screen, and the traffic lights stay green…… Dash it! A red light and a yelp from the back “wow, awesome, can we go, can we go??” You’ll be proud to hear that I stuck to my guns on this occasion, and refused to stop at the fair. There are a few things in this world that I will always, every time say no to. Funfairs being the main one. I hate them, I loathe them, in fact I detest them. I dislike everything about them. I don’t like the rides; they look like they’re going to collapse and hurl 50 screaming children in to the stratosphere. I can’t stand the lollies, the crap prizes and the grubby people. I detest funfairs because no matter how much of a good time the kids have, I always, without fail, leave feeling utterly ripped off and the children are inevitably sick on the way home. The vomiting being totally my fault for allowing them to eat the burgers made from dog meat, and the candy floss made by the lady with E-coli all over her being.
I tried to reason with the children about why we weren’t going to the fair; I started well. Not only had we been out all day, it was getting late, and we were all tired. “I’m not tired, are you tired Poppy”, “ok… well we’ve run out of coins and funfairs are really expensive”, “we haven’t spent our pocket money yet mum, look we have 20 dollars” …. “Oh for Christ sake, we’re not going to the bloody fair because they’re shit, and the gaggle of teenage girls drinking vodka by the bumper cars look like they’re ready to ruin everyone’s evening. Let’s just stop at the nearest sodding bin and chuck your money in if you’re happy to throw it away” Stunned silence… Then a little whisper behind me… “did Mummy say a swear word?’
My children are utterly spoilt, again this is purely my fault. I completely spoil them because since moving away from home I have felt a torrent of guilt. Guilt for moving them so far from their grandparents, guilt for allowing them to get sunburnt last summer, guilt for making them move all the time, guilt for changing their schools so frequently, guilt for not allowing them to drink cordial every day, guilt for forcing them to do Nippers even when its freezing cold, guilt for only reading two bedtime stories, guilt for not being as strict on letter writing as I should be; honestly guilt runs deep in this mumma!
This is the reason I over compensate and give in to them all the time. This is why I find it almost impossible to say no! Tim thinks I am ridiculous. He is well aware of how I treat them, and as we were sitting at the traffic lights, next to the god awful un..fun..fair, I could see his hand hovering over the indicator, ready to pull in, knowing I was about to collapse under the pressure of pester power! Then thankfully the lights turned green, Tim put his foot down and we sped off. I put my hand on his leg, looked lovingly at him, so proud of what awesome parents we are, and how bloody brilliant we are for showing the kids that no means no!!
So this Australia day, when we should have been reflecting on Australian history, learning about the arrival of the first fleet, and raising a glass to the wonder of this beautiful country, we were actually laughing at the children hurting themselves, teaching them that mummy thinks funfairs are “shit”, and showing them who’s boss… And it ‘aint daddy!!
Here’s hoping for a more relaxing Australia Day next year!
‘One way to get the most out of life, is to look upon it as an adventure’ – William Feather