I love the summer holidays, I have never been one to balk at the idea of six weeks with my children, but at the same time I cannot hide the fact that they are getting harder to entertain. Two years ago, when my eldest finished her first year at school, summer time was easy. She was happy for the rest, my youngest was happy to have her sister home and the two of them played beautifully with very little interaction from me. This year, well it's a little different.
I would like to first share a couple of photos from our first week of holidays:
Notice the smiles, the well captured sisterly bonding.
Now I would like to say... IT IS ALL A LIE. Of course, I am going to snap the photos when they are lovingly playing salons together, or when little O gives a cheeky smile to her sister as they stand side by side making scones. It is the other half of the day that I try my best to brush under the carpet, that I do not advertise wholeheartedly as a glimpse of our home life. Truthfully, the other half of the day is what life in the Jarman household resembles. This year's summer holidays, so far, consist of my eldest complaining she is bored with her broken leg and wants to go out and play properly, and in her defence, I don't blame her. What a summer to break her leg, perfect weather and she hasn't cooled off once in the pool. It also consists of my threenager throwing her weight around, a lot. When the game isn't played her way, she screams, when she isn't allowed ANOTHER snack, she screams, when she wants her breakfast at 5am she screams. You get the impression, lots of screaming. The photos above do not show the moment the makeup was thrown around the room because I said she had had enough nail varnish. The photos do not show the moment I threw away the excess scraps of scones, not realising how important they were to her, and I may as well have thrown away her children from the scene it caused.
This summer there will be a lot of beautiful family photos on the beach, every Instagram account will show the perfect vacation, amazing parents spending all day entertaining their children with elaborate games and crafting activities. Most will not show the moment that those parents lost their shit. I would like to say, however, do not be fooled. If you are looking at the Instagram perfection and feeling as though you are doing something wrong, you are not. I can guarantee every single other parent will be close to losing their cool at least once every hour, it isn't just you.
You may ask why then do we not share real family life? Because, when our children have flown the nest, when the 'eighteen summers you have with them' (so we keep being told) are over, we will not remember how difficult some days were, we will instead recall what a lovely holiday it was. 'Do you remember the summer we went to that beach in France? Look how adorable the girls were playing together.' They too will not remember the fighting, the shouting or the tantrumming, but they will remember the family time spent together, the fantastic ice creams and the fact that we were all together. The photos we have brandished on social media as real family life will become the life that they remember, the best bits. No matter how difficult entertaining the kids may get this summer, when I look back at the photos I will only ever remember it as perfect.