THE screams of parental joy combined with the shrieks of children's horror are echoing from every corner of Croydon. At last, the summer holidays are OVER. Mwahahaha.
Kids in tow and 20 minutes early for the school gates I pause, watching children trundle along in their shiny new uniforms. This pleases me. Not because of the promise of new beginnings or the excitement I feel for them. No way.
My happiness is because I know somewhere out there is a mother finally allowed to pee in peace and maybe, just maybe, managing to think for more than a second without interruption. Bliss. Joy.
Funnily enough at the start of the summer, I stupidly allowed myself to be fooled. The allure of the weeks ahead with no early school runs, no mountain of uniforms to wash and no difficult homework to supervise or stress over was enticing. Weeks of relaxation lay ahead.
Every year, the reality is not quite that. I should have known better than to be so naive.
The first few weeks are a honeymoon period, everyone is getting on, I'm off work for a bit, there is laughter, the house is tidy. But, by the time week three ends, I am firmly reminded of the true value of education.
From week four onwards, relentless sibling squabbling takes hold. It also seems I am constantly feeding or thinking about feeding (I'm sure London Zoo do fewer meal servings) and then lastly the accidental, avoidable breakage of the fourth most valuable item in my home swiftly shatters all my romantic summer illusions.
Those wonderful teachers are actual saints, allowing us pathetic parents that 9-3 respite.
You see at the beginning of the holidays I had conveniently forgotten how high maintenance full-time child caring actually is. In my case I also forgot that during the holidays, I am still, in fact, required to go to work for most of it to find money for the bills. Obviously this is alongside being the cleaner/chef/carer/entertainer extraordinaire.
Any chance of a lie-in doesn't happen. It also feels like with every conscious breath I take, one of my little folk are wanting attention. They NEED school. Seriously, there is only so many repeats of the Lego or Frozen movies or soundtracks that any human can physically bear.
The words 'absence', 'heart' and 'fonder' definitely spring to mind.