I have spend the entire morning drawing up our Summer diary.
‘I’m just going to leave the Summer diary here,’ I said to my husband, placing the colour coded chart on our sideboard. I am hoping that by leaving it on our new pride-and-joy piece of mid-century vintage furniture will, somehow, make it seem like a less onerous document.
The Summer ‘holidays’ are upon us. As anyone with a child under 10 will tell you, there is nothing remotely holiday-ish about the months of July and August. Not in this house anyway. Certainly not this year. The Teen is off doing his own thing but young Tommo cannot be left to his own devices. His ‘device’ of choice is an iPad and I am woken every morning, as it is, but him sitting on my chest saying, ‘Can I go on the iPad?’ ‘No.’ ‘Can I go on the iPad?’ ‘No.’ ‘Can I go on the iPad?’ ‘No.’ ‘Can I go on the iPad?’ ‘Arrrrgh - OH-ALRIGHT THEN!’ Alternatives to YouTube and the myriad of mindless games have to be pushed forward, despite objections and this means planning in a constant stream of activities and working them into a structured routine. Over the past few weeks I have found Tommo a July provision teacher and a surf teacher. I have signed him up for summer camps (he hates sports which doesn’t leave much option) and social clubs and negotiated regular play dates so that, in theory, I can work steadily through all of July and some of August and get my book finished. My husband has ‘agreed’ to pick up the slack, although acquiesce might be a more accurate description. The Teen has camps and because we are still settling into the new house, we won’t be going away. That said, I have managed to squeeze in a day trip and overnight to Tayto Park at the end of July. This summer it has been all about creating structure, and planning and routine so that our lives will be ordered and easier and run smoothly. But here’s the thing: I hate structure and routine and planning. What I feel like creating is that kind of gentle chaos where everyone wanders round doing their own thing for a few weeks - reading and pottering and messing about outside. Like - well - a holiday. But it looks like we are not going to get one of those this year. Again.
‘You will look at the charts - won’t you?’
He gave me that ‘look’. After twenty years you would think that I would know if the ‘look’ meant ‘yes’ or ‘no’ - or even ‘I don’t know’ but I still can’t read him. Perhaps that is why we are still married. He remains enigmatic - somewhat beyond me. Either that or he has become a master at hedging his bets as the result of being married to a strident woman who likes to get her own way.
All I know is what ‘the look’ does not mean which is, ‘Yes darling, of course I will. And thank you for organising everything.’
I notice something missing on the chart, so I get out the pen and pencil and start rearranging things.
‘Can I watch Cartoon Network?’ ‘No.’ ‘Can I watch Cartoon Network?’
‘Oh Hell - go on then.’ ‘You said a bad word. You owe me ten euro.’ ‘I owe you ten cent…’ That’s another new arrangement. The swear box. Tommo potters over to the TV and in a few minutes the Teen and him are curled up on the sofa, despite my no TV before 6 rule. Niall is outside, preparing the new garden for a lawn. I was hoping to get some work done today but it seems, there is not a hope. This day has gone to pot. The sun in shining but the boys are inside in front of the TV. I can’t banish them to the garden because they are now allowed near the freshly raked ‘lawn’. I have ‘chicken curry’ written down for dinner, but the slow cooker is still in the dishwasher and we have no chicken. And no rice. I rub it out and write, pizza. Again. This is hopeless, but I have to try and put some order on our lives otherwise - well - otherwise what? I look up at my sleepy boys. There’s a wash on the line and my husband is digging to his hearts content. I have everything I ever wanted. Happy children, a kind husband and a home. Order? It can wait. I’ll keep trying but I’ll never reach it. I’ll just have to march my family through the next two months of gentle chaos as best I can. Through iPad nagging, daytime TV, half-raked lawns and unfinished novels, somehow, we’ll be alright.