And so the time has come. We are on the cusp of a new month and the kids are going back to school.
Both children are equipped with new shoes, school uniforms, lunch boxes and, dare I say it, seem ready to return.
After six fun-filled weeks, they appear slightly exhausted by my company, escaping as often as they can to pop round to play with their friends and asking constantly, ‘How long until we go back to school again?’
So my job of chief entertainer, travel agent, banker, taxi driver and chef are halted ever-so-slightly by the fact they will be in school for the majority of the day. I’m back to part-time early morning and evening work until half-term but, as school holidays go, it’s been a good one.
If life is as much of a lesson as going to school, they’ve learned rather a lot over the summer months.
My daughter discovered that if your tooth falls out in the pub in Cardiff Airport en route to Majorca, the tooth fairy does indeed exist on the Spanish island, and she is a generous one at that, leaving a crisp five Euro note under the fresh hotel linen.
She also learned a bit about the value of money, concluding that it was better to spend one euro on a bracelet that will last for ever rather than on a two-minute ride on a go-kart.
And she found the power of communication and the importance of speaking up – after all, if you order a banana split that is actually served to you without said banana (a banana-less split I kid you not), it is probably worth telling the waiter.
My son learned a few lessons as well. He discovered that he can swim without the aid of a swim vest and he can play with any number of German boys without being able to speak a common language as long as there is a ball involved.
He found a new love for the songs of the Beatles, thanks to a rather dodgy tribute band called Los Bitles, and even tried mastering the Spanish language, attempting to impress the locals with his newfound skill. So when I told him to try and thank the waiter in Spanish, the football-loving little man replied: “Fabregas.”
But of all these lessons learned, I think it’s fair to say that my husband and I learned a pretty big one, too. That our children, now aged nine and six, are fiercely competitive, especially with each other.
Never have a few games of mini-golf been more tense. In fact, such was the atmosphere as my two were progressing through the obstacles trying to get the ball in the hole, it’s no wonder I escaped to get a quick San Miguel by game three.
I watched as other families laughed and applauded as their siblings made their attempts with smiles on their faces and giggles when it all went terribly wrong.
But there was no such frivolity over with the mini-Mainwarings. This was serious stuff and both children were absolutely desperate to get the best score.
What was supposed to be a bit of post-dinner relaxing fun was actually fraught with nerves. And they were just mine. It made me wonder what the etiquette is when supporting kids who are competing against one another. So, was I allowed to applaud if Molly got a hole in one or would that be tough on George, and vice versa? As it happened, I don’t think they would have taken a blind bit of notice if I’d hopped over to the bar for a cocktail to celebrate their achievements such was their focus on the “big” game.
When Molly finished the first triumphant, my son wept tears of frustration. “She is your sister George,” I said. “You should shake her hand and congratulate her to show you are a good sport”, which just made him cry even more.
And when they played the next game a few days later (I’d already come to the conclusion that these games had to be rationed to every few days for my nerves) and it was declared a draw, neither of the children was satisfied with the result, wistful that they would do better next time and they’d have to have a rematch because, and I quote “getting a draw is rubbish”.
So when George was triumphant in the third and final game, I was expecting him to high five and jump for joy while his sister sulked. But he didn’t. And neither did she.
Instead, he went over to Molly, gave her a big hug and started crying because he wanted her to win while she welled up at her brother’s sentiment.
So, I guess, true love conquers all. Another lesson learned.