“Do we HAVE to go?”
I might have been insisting on a family visit to a mortuary, or worse still, expecting them to accompany me to a Cliff Richard concert. But no, it turns out that my children have simply reached a point in their lives when the prospect of a trip to the seaside with their mother is just too hideous to contemplate.
Yes, a summer afternoon watching their sweet little dog galloping across the sand, a paddle in the waves, fish & chips and ice cream and as much fresh sea air as they can suck up their nostrils no longer appeals.
When I stupidly ask why they should decline such an enthralling offer, Arthur points petulantly out of the landing window and states, “Well, for a start, it’s not sunny.”
Having been holed up in his darkened bedroom staring at YouTube for the past three hours he’s oblivious to the fact that it’s a blissful 27degrees outside with occasional fluffy clouds, one of which just happened to conveniently pass across the sun at the moment he started his reply. He adds, with more conviction, that it is only the second day of the school holidays and he needs to just relax. (!)
Rose is less inventive, supplying the pre-menstrual answer, “I just don’t feeeel like it, okayyyy?”
As I stood there in the hallway looking up at their sullen faces peering over the bannisters, I had a blinding flash of inspiration, a lightbulb moment. It occurred to me, for the first time, that I too had reached a point in their life, one where I could quite legitimately leave the ungrateful little wretches behind. F#*k ’em, I thought, they can stay at home and stew.
And so, here I am reclining, unhindered, on the sands of Fraisthorpe Beach. Badger’s ecstatic enthusiasm for my idea is heartwarming and all my resentful gnashing of teeth and muttering about the vile little ingrates has abated. I realise with glee that no one has asked me for a drink or got in a strop about sand in their headphones. No one has said, ‘How long do we have to stay here?’ and I’ve been spared the agonising melodrama of ‘It’s FREEEZING!’ when going for a dip, on account of Badger not being able to express his opinions verbally. Instead he cuts a neat doggy paddle u-turn in the shallows and watches me quietly from dry land.
This is bliss, and I’m in no hurry to leave. There are plenty of eggs and a loaf of bread at home. The smoke alarms are all tested and my mobile phone is in the beach bag next to me if one of them decides to get electrocuted and needs my advice.
I used to worry about how I’ll cope with ’empty nest syndrome’ when my children leave home, but it hadn’t occurred to me that now they are bigger, I can leave home instead!
You can’t say I didn’t offer to bring the little darlings with me, (in fact I even tried emotional blackmail and guilt-tripping when all other arguments ran dry) and I will continue trying to drag them outside. But rudely rebuffed as I was today, I’m thinking I might suggest a family trip to York Art Gallery next week and with a bit of luck enjoy another peaceful afternoon of solitude. Then I have a weekend family ticket for the Burton Agnes Jazz festival which might be rather fun without the family…Oh the summer holidays are going to be just marvellous!