Thank God It's The Holidays

25th August 1995 at 01:00
Monday: 7am and the newspaper flips through the letterbox. But I don't have to get up! Hooray, hooray, hooray. I lie in bed savouring the sense of idle bliss. Note golden head of youngest slumbering next to me, as all too often. I resolve to do something about it - tomorrow.

And so the glorious, irresponsible day goes on, at least until 9am when collective demands of the stomach can no longer be ignored. Set the children to work harvesting plums while I slash down old raspberry canes and feel like a peasant wife in romanticised picture of the 17th century. Why 17th century? Why not? We all eat too much fruit and have stomach-aches.

Tuesday: Amazing how sleeping until 8am improves my temper. I forget to reprove youngest for arriving in my bed. As there are strict limits on weekday tv in our house, I'm also gratified to see children playing with the vast mound of expensive plastic which litters our front room, having first enriched the coffers of Toys R Us.

I sneak off to play with new computer only to find oldest son has sneaked there first, to play championship manager game. Resolve: 1, to ban said game for more than 40 minutes a day; 2, to buy Sim City which I think is a highly educational game on which I am dying to get my hands, and 3, to go out for a long walk. Do the last thing first and lose the dog. Regain dog, who has rolled in dog muck. Force children to bathe dog, to shrieks of delight.

Wednesday: Creeping up to 8.30am, no little person snoring next to me, and the children are on a rota to bring me tea in bed. Get up to find dog has escaped, probably cross about yesterday's bath, but before I can decide what to do about it, she returns with the postman.

Decide to read to children and spend what seems like an eternity on one of the Narnia books, to discover that the youngest has lost the thread and thrown all the tennis balls over the fence. The other two are delighted, which makes me very complacent about the improving effects of literature until they say: "Now that we've listened to all that, can we go and see Batman Forever?"

Weakly agree to see movie and am surprised by how much I enjoy it. Draw the line at tubs of popcorn for Pounds 1.50, however, which adds the necessary element of child-frustration to my day. Isn't it Roseanne who, when DJ wails: "You're the nastiest Mom on the block!", replies: "Then my work is done. "

Thursday: Go swimming. Take extra children and lose none. However, detour to shops and I'm conned into buying fry-ups all round for lunch. There's nothing like that feeling of greasy fullness for making the body yearn for more sleep. Have an afternoon nap for the first time since Christmas. So far from waking feeling the worse, I feel much the better and arrange to meet up with several children to play tennis. As the kitchen clock ticks past 3.30, I'm chatting on the phone with a friend and don't have to break off to fetch children from school. I can relax about their bedtime, too - hooray - no one has to get up early.

Friday: Oldest boy has friend round. The rest of us go to the park. Secretly I'm fretting that this New Friend, from the New School, will find our - not to put too fine a point on it - untidy house somehow beneath him.

Return home, having lost the dog again and having taught youngest two to turn somersaults, to find dog in friend's house and oldest son at movies. What's he gone to see? Batman Forever, need you ask?

His friend is a model of politeness who, it turns out, has also seen the movie before. Middle child, never one to miss a trick, demands similar repeat treat next week. Ruefully count money and decide children will have to earn their treats with odd jobs. To celebrate my decision, and because it's Friday night, I send the eldest off to buy supper - a fish and chips treat.

Victoria Neumark lives in north London

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