It was May half term when I originally wrote this post.

Its half term.

The Friday of a very wet half term, which means we’ve had to do a lot of indoor things. This is a big problem for my children because they like to live outdoors 24/7 in all weathers. They don’t appreciate being told not to jump on the trampoline in the rain for example. I’m such a killjoy.

eBay

Emily & Ruby fell out big time yesterday after finding out they’d both done secret TicTocs of each other. And then posted the videos online.
One of them was actively researching how to list the other one on eBay. (I know this because I had a reset password link emailed to me).

It amuses me that they were both so cross with each other for literally doing the exact same thing to each other. That’s sisterly love for you.

So yeah. Half term is going swimmingly. I wish I’d bought a whistle. It would help with the refereeing duty.

Enter the nephews…

Today isn’t just the last official day of half term. It’s also the day that my little sister has to have some very complex surgery.
And because I’m a glutton for punishment nice, I have agreed to watch her 3 boys so her husband can be with her at the hospital. 

This arrangement initially seemed like a great idea. Until the 6.30am drop off of 3 tired boys. By 2 stressed and anxious parents. 

My own sweet little darlings (ha ha?!) were sound asleep though, so I prepared to settle myself down with a coffee and Facebook. Naively assuming that whilst my girls slept until a more reasonable hour, the boys would play nicely on the Xbox. 

3 hours later…

About 3 hours after this thought, I found my stone cold coffee hiding in the kitchen with my sanity. 

Coffee is one of the many things you need to survive half term
The elixir of parenting.

My throat was actually hoarse from quietly yelling* ‘stop hitting your brother with that pipe/shoe/broom/mop/chair’ over and over and over.

 *quietly yelling is a talent by the way. It’s a way of yelling without rousing and angering teenagers still asleep. And you never want to anger a teenager if you don’t have to. Believe me.

I decided fresh air would sort out the squabbles, so I made myself another coffee and instructed them all to take turns bouncing on the trampoline whilst I drank it watching their awesome tricks. 

Half term tricks

‘Tricks’ is obviously nephew-speak for what can only be described as a cross between bull fighting, cage fighting and wrestling. It was brutal. 

There were so many arms, legs and feet flailing about all over the place, I couldn’t tell what belonged to who. 

My quiet yelling got a bit louder. The children got a LOT louder. 

I tried that thing I’ve seen teachers do, where they put up their hand and all the children copy them and go quiet. 

Did that work?

Did. It. Fuck. 

Cue hilarious questions such as:

“Auntie Hannah, why are you sniffing your own armpit?”

Lucas May 2019

And.

“Auntie Hannah, are they still called bingo wings if you don’t actually play bingo?” 

Marcus May 2019

He’s got a point. Can they still be called that?

Snack time.

Then came snack time. Obviously. This is half term after all. Those few days where children eat more before lunch than they usually do over a whole week. And it had been at least 90 minutes since they’d had coco pops, toast and half a watermelon. 

The ‘Snack’ cost me a loaf of bread, a packet of ham, 2 punnets of strawberries, 2 mangoes, a bunch of grapes and some bananas. 

By 10.04am I felt like I’d been awake for a few days. 

Obviously, none of this was anywhere near as bad as what my poor sister was enduring.
Although, she was heavily medicated and under anesthetic, no doubt enjoying a rare day off (even with the bone reshaping and rebuilding). So clearly I was going through worse.
I’m not belittling anything that my sister was through, but the lucky cow was asleep whilst enduring hell, whilst I had to keep my eyes open and wits about me. 

These kids are sneaky. 

There are 5 of them by the way. FIVE. 

That is 2 more than the number I am prepared to shout to before losing my shit. 

I suddenly came up with what I thought was an amazing idea. 

Let’s go to the cinema!

Take all the kids to see the new Aladdin movie! It’ll be fun. It’ll be dark. They will have to sit still. No fighting! They will have to be quiet. No arguing! I might even get in a cheeky power nap if I sort out the seating arrangements cleverly. AND if I take them to McDonalds first, I’ll save a fortune on sweets and popcorn.. result! 

Unfortunately, as always, I made a mistake. Actually, no, this time I made a whole series of them in a relatively short period of time. I’m fairly confident that I’ll be receiving my World record holder certificate any time soon..

Mistake 1:

Booking the tickets online whilst world war 3 was kicking off over an Xbox remote. I booked for 2 adults and 5 children. I was the only adult. With 5 children. £38.
The extra seat came in use as a snack buffer between children that wouldn’t stop fighting.

Mistake 2 :

Booking a screening only 2 hours’ into the future. In no children-land, this would be ample time. In hindsight, I should have known better. Which brings us neatly onto..

Mistake 3 :

Forgetting that Ruby would need 45 minutes to change into every single item in her wardrobe. Chuck it all on the bedroom floor and then select an outfit that only a blind person parachuting naked into a jumble sale would have been proud of. Then moving on to choose from her ridiculous selection of shoes.

Yes darling, stripes, polka dots, and zebra print all ‘go’ together and look fabulous with the sparkly red Dorothy shoes.. fml. 

Mistake 4 :

Underestimating the amount of time and effort getting 5 children to go for a wee (when none of them need to), find their socks and shoes, and turn an Xbox off would take. 

Mistake 5 :

Forgetting that the car is a standard 5 seat car and therefore we don’t all fit. 

Mistake 6 :

Expecting the buses to be on time or reasonably priced. £19 for return tickets to travel a mile. Terrific. Arguments over who gets to sit next to who, not so much. 

Mistake 7 :

Not having enough time to get to McDonalds before the film started. Or do anything else other than run through the town centre ‘Home Alone’ style. Desperately trying to keep 2 eyes on 5 children running in no formation whatsoever. 

Mistake 8 :

Agreeing that they could each have a slush puppy, a small bag of sweets or chocolate each and 2 large popcorns to share between them as they were all STARVING. That cost me £39.40.
And I forgot to get something for myself. 

Mistake 9 :

Expecting 5 children to sit and watch the film that they wanted to see. It’s incredible how many times a child can need a wee when they’re in the middle of the aisle and have to climb over a whole bunch of people.
Or lose their glasses.

You wouldn’t believe how often a pair of glasses can just ‘jump’ off a 5 year old’s face and hide under the seats.

Mistake 10 :

Taking them to McDonalds after the film. Of course every single one wanted to ‘customise’ their meal.
This added an additional 32 years to the time it would have taken me to select; 3 plain cheeseburger happy meals & chocolate milkshakes, a nugget happy meal with orange juice and a chicken legend meal with Diet Coke. £23.

Again, I forgot to get myself something. FFS!!

3 volatile substances

The seating arrangements were about to cause another argument, so I dispatched the older 2 to sit at one table whilst I sat with the younger 3.
I say sat with the younger 3, it was more like trying to contain 3 highly volatile substances into a very small space, whilst making sure they weren’t spitting drinks or throwing chips at each other. It was pretty stressful. 

6 years later, when they’d finally finished eating, I began gathering up our stuff to go home. But I couldn’t find my phone. 

No phone = panic

Emily tried calling it a few times, but we couldn’t hear it. I desperately tried to engage the few brain cells that hadn’t fucked off for the day to try and remember the last time I had my phone. But it’s hard to remember anything when you’re panicking.

Eventually, I remembered that I had been texting my Mum for an update on my sister just as the happy meal toy row erupted, and I had put the phone down on the tray as I diffused it. 

The trays weren’t on the tables anymore!! I ended up chasing an employee around the restaurant to find out where he had emptied our trays.

Half term breakdown approaching

Of course he had no idea which bloody bin he’d emptied the tray into, poor bloke. I expect it was the first time he’d encountered a grown woman having a nervous breakdown over a tray of rubbish. 

I dispatched all 5 children to stand near a different bin, whilst I used Emily’s phone to call it. Thankfully, having 5 children to guard 5 different bins paid off, and the bemused employee pulled my phone out of the ringing bin. My month old iPhone was covered in ketchup. But at least I had it.

What a moron

The children made me feel like a complete moron for the whole journey home. 

I let them. They were right. But not because of the phone, because I had started adding up how much this great half term idea had cost me…

Aside from my nerves, stress and anxiety, I had paid approximately £120 to take them to see Aladdin. This wouldn’t have been so bad if they hadn’t spent the entire bus journey home saying they preferred the genie in the ‘real’ film. According to assorted 5-12 year olds, ‘the movie wasn’t believable with real life people in it’. 

FML

They literally put the original film on seconds after walking through the door. And do you know what? Every. Single. One. Of. Them. Sat there and watched it without moving. Without arguing. Without snacks. And without losing glasses or needing a wee. 

So if you ever find yourself in a similar situation during a half term, don’t bother with the cinema. Stay at home to watch a movie and eat whatever snacks you have in the house. Wine is optional.

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