The Monster Diaries

Wednesday 7th August

So, two and a half weeks of the summer holidays have gone by already. I seriously cannot believe how quick the days are flying by, especially considering we haven’t really done much. I still feel constant guilt that I am not entertaining the children on a daily basis but then to be honest they aren’t really interested in doing a lot anymore. When they were younger, I had a large group of friends all with children of similar ages to my three and we used to do something practically every day of the summer holidays. Not always expensive activities, though we did have some nice days out, but there were so many of us we could spend each day of the week at a different house. The kids would play and the adults would gossip (and sometimes drink wine). They were good days but over the years we all drifted apart for one reason and another. People fell out and the group splintered, which meant that the children didn’t get to see each other, which was something I felt sad and guilty about for a long time. I also missed the group as we’d had a lot of fun together, but people and things change. The ones that I am still in touch with I don’t see very often, mainly due to the fact that as the children have got older and gone to secondary schools, they have made new friends and us mums have gone back to work full-time.

Nowadays my three aren’t as reliant on me to fill their days with activities. Youngest Child is happy spending her days playing with Best Friend From Next Door But One and if the other two want to go out and do something, they meet up with their own friends.

Youngest Child did spend three days attending summer school at her new secondary school, which she thoroughly enjoyed and made a group of friends. It turns out there will be quite a few new Year 7’s catching the train from September and so I let her come home on the train with them and I met her at the station. She of course loved this new found freedom, so as it was on the last day, she completely ignored me waiting in the car (as I had been instructed to do and not wait on the platform) and walked off in the other direction.

“Where are you going?” I called

“To the shop,” she merrily replied and off she went.

It was quite a novelty having a few days where I did not have a child to consider and I made the most of it by having my hair done the first day, a pedicure the second and going out for lunch with friends on the third day.

The following week I was once again bound to a child so I invited Mrs T, Mrs B and Gorgeous over for an afternoon tea. The afternoon tea carried on until fairly late in the evening and Mrs T, Mrs B and I polished off six bottles of prosecco between us (Gorgeous was driving).

After a couple of days of recovery, I felt it was time for a day out and packed a beach bag and we headed off to the coast with the Mother in law. Surprisingly Eldest Child emerged from the tree house and decided to come with us.  How lovely a rare day out with all three of my offspring, is what I was thinking as we set off. It was not what I was thinking as we set off for the return journey!

The first incident was shortly after we had arrived at the beach, which was after we had first stopped off for a fish and chip lunch. Middle Child had brought her sliders so that she could wear them as she hobbled across the pebble beach down to the waters edge but they were, in no uncertain terms, for actually wearing into the water, as they might slip off her feet, be washed out to sea and be lost forever. Eldest Child, who has his own sliders but didn’t think to bring them, was the first to take his shoes and socks off and immediately put on Middle Child’s sliders and off he went down to the water. Middle Child became apoplectic, screaming and shouting at me to “tell him to bring my sliders back” and basically had a nervous breakdown. Mother in law had just sat down in her fold up chair, I hadn’t even got mine unfolded yet, and proceeded to look aghast at us all as Middle Child continued her melt down while I made myself hoarse shouting down the beach to Eldest Child to bring her sliders back. Of course, he completely ignored us and started splashing in the water with a look of pure glee on his face. Sometimes I do wonder if he really is nearly seventeen or actually seven.

After several minutes of screaming from Middle Child and shouting from me, back he came, kicking the sliders off and started ranting about how he didn’t see what the problem was. I patiently explained that the problem was that they were her sliders and she didn’t want him to wear them, but he had taken them without asking and if he wanted to wear sliders, he should have brought his own. There were then several more minutes of Eldest Child shouting and stamping about the beach, exclaiming that he didn’t see what the problem was, while I repeated what I had already told him and him shouting back at me, before declaring he didn’t understand why I was making an argument out of it! FFS!

It then all settled down for a while and the children actually played nicely together in the sea. It all went wrong again when they decided that they’d had enough of the water and were going to play on the beach. As I mentioned it is a shingle beach and at the top end, where we were sitting, it was covered with quite large stones. After a couple had been thrown towards the sea, and we had been given a look by someone who had been quite near to where one had landed, I firmly told them that they were not to throw stones. Eldest Child, however continued to throw several more stones, while my voice got firmer and firmer. He then picked up a stone that was part of the collection Youngest Child had amassed in her bucket, and which she had decided was the shape of a boot and therefore was very special. Of course, Eldest Child threw it so that it landed in the edge of the sea. Youngest Child started screaming and crying, Eldest Child started laughing and Mother in Law again looked aghast. I sent him off the find the stone that looked like a boot with the challenge that he would never be able to find it. Five minutes later he was back with the very same stone and repeated his actions, clearly thinking this was a great game, while the whole beach had to contend with Youngest Child’s screams because he was throwing her special stones.

Fortunately, Middle Child came to the rescue by suggesting that she buried Youngest Child in the shingle. This appeased Youngest Child and Eldest Child, now that his stone throwing game was no longer having an effect on anyone, soon decided to join in. When Youngest Child was almost completely covered in stones, Mother in Law, quite rightly, became concerned about her chest being covered with stones. Of course, Eldest Child aware that this was causing the adults some distress, proceeded to completely cover Youngest Child’s chest with stones. Mother in law was becoming increasingly agitated and we both told him, what felt like, 46 billion times to stop. Sometimes I do understand why his Food Technology teacher asked me if he had special needs, he never listens and seems to get pleasure out of annoying everybody. He has always been a bit of a pain in the arse but he is currently stuck in that stage between still being a child and being almost an adult and so swings from silly, childish behaviour to stroppy teenage angst, which I have absolutely no patience for. So, before I decided to bury him on the beach and leave him there, I decided it might be best to pack up and go for a walk on the pier.

Since we had arrived Youngest Child had been desperate to find a crab like she had done the previous year and so it was that when we got on the pier there were a number of people with crab catching nets hanging from the railings and of course she wanted to have a go. I purchased a net, a crab bucket and a packet of raw bacon (which apparently, I needed for bait), tied her net to the balustrade and sat back on a bench while she happily spent the next hour winching the net up and throwing it back in the hopes of catching something.

It was during this activity that Eldest Child decided that he was hungry. Now anyone with a teenage boy knows that they eat often and if their culinary needs are not met, then all hell will break loose. He had spotted a pizza stall on the pier and so off he went to purchase one. He soon returned without a pizza and I could feel the anger emanating from him.

“Didn’t you get a pizza?” I tentatively asked him

It turns out that there was a wedding reception on the pier, for which the pizza stall was doing the catering and so it was not accepting orders from the general public at this time. That is not, of course, how it was relayed to me. I was met with a lot of eye rolling, puffing, stamping around and shouting about how hungry he was and how there is nowhere to get food. I suggested that he left the pier to have a look on the promenade. It seems that was not a sensible suggestion and this only succeeded in inflaming his anger, which produced more shouting and stropping about. Mother in law decided to take matters into her own hands and went off to have a word with the proprietor of the pizza stall to see if there was anything they could do for us.

In the meantime, Youngest Child, who was having a great time and had caught two crabs, was in the process of winching up her crab net when Eldest Child decided to keep his hunger pangs at bay by interfering in what she was doing. He stood so close to her, trying to muscle in on the winching up of the net, that when she lifted the net up over the rail it touched him on the arm. Well, this set him off in an absolute rage because the net had raw bacon in it and it had touched his arm and he shouted so loud the whole pier must have known how stupid his sister was. I calmly pointed out that she had done nothing wrong and he shouldn’t have been standing so close to her or interfering in what she was doing. This did nothing to assuage his temper and he stropped off the pier and up the promenade.

It is quite possible that the ruckus had reached the ears of the pizza stall, who felt that they needed to do their bit to calm the situation, because at that point Mother in Law returned and enquired where Eldest Child had gone because they had agreed to make him a pizza!

Youngest Child decided that she’d had enough of crabbing and after accepting that she couldn’t take the two crabs she had caught home to be her pets, she returned them to the sea and packed up her net.

We set off up the promenade and after a minute saw Eldest Child coming towards us, joining us without a word. We were all now feeling hungry and so we decided to go to the pub where, would you believe, we all pizzas, which were surprisingly good for a pub, followed by ice-creams from the ice-cream parlour. On the way back to the car Eldest Child quietly said to Mother in Law “Thank you for the food and ice-cream.”

Mother in Law pointed out that I had also paid for the food and the ice-cream but, of course, no thanks were forthcoming my way.

We got to the car and we had one final hurdle to overcome before we could set off for home, who was going to sit in the middle of the back seat?

On the way here Youngest Child had sat in the middle, because she was the smallest, along with Middle Child and myself (my fear of motorways prevents me from sitting in the front). Youngest Child was adamant she was sitting in the front on the way back, while both Eldest and Middle Child were adamant they weren’t sitting in the middle. This argument continued for a good five minutes, with even Mother in Law raising her voice to them. In the end, for a peaceful life I decided that I would sit in the middle. After several minutes of trying to manoeuvre my legs either side of the raised bit in the centre of the car and Youngest Child trying to move her seat forward to accommodate me, I finally snapped.

With a cry of “right that’s it, I’ve had enough now!” I dragged myself back out of the car and stormed around to the front, while Youngest Child, realising that The Beast that lives inside of Mummy may have just woken up, meekly climbed out of the front seat and went and got in the middle of the back seat.

“The three of you get in the car,” I shouted. “You,” pointing at Youngest Child, “are sitting in the middle and I don’t want to hear another word from any of you. I dare you to say one more word and I promise, you will be punished within an inch of your life!”

Even Mother in Law got into the car without saying a word but a few minutes after we had set off, she turned to me and said, “I think the whole of Herne Bay knew who was and wasn’t sitting in the middle seat.”

There was not a peep from the back seat for the first hour of the hour and a half journey and I silently promised myself that if we do come again, we will come by train and I will definitely not be bringing Eldest Child. FML!

Wednesday 21st August

So, we have been on holiday! Our first family holiday in two or three years (I can’t quite remember). We went to Torquay in Devon and got back yesterday. All in all, it was a successful trip. We only had one rainy day (although The Husband did keep moaning it was cold, which it wasn’t) and on that day a friend of ours, who lives in North Devon and who we haven’t seen in ten years, came to see us. As we had an apartment, in an old coaching mews, with a large living room, we were able to have them visit there and then in the evening we all went out for dinner. So even the rainy day wasn’t a wasted day. I only lost my shit one day, which was because The Husband had started to have a little moan because he doesn’t like holidaying in this country and I was also fed up of hearing Youngest Child constantly asking to go on the fun fair, even though she had been on all the rides she was big enough for on the first night. So, I lost my shit! It wasn’t the Menopausal Monster this time, it was a ‘you need to stop being an ungrateful brat and stop keep asking to have money spent on you all the time’ and ‘you need to stop moaning and enjoy the time spent with your family’ very deliberate losing of ones shit!

Needless to say, we went on to spend a very nice few days walking, swimming, kayaking and clambering around the rock pools, without any more moaning or pestering to go on rides.

We got back yesterday afternoon and I was extremely proud of myself because by the evening I had unpacked and got everyone’s clothes washed and dried. I was feeling very smug, until I went upstairs and saw the two overflowing washing baskets that were in our room and the girl’s room, that had been there since before the holiday. Looks like I’m going to be washing all day tomorrow as well. FML!

Thursday 22nd August

Today is GCSE results day! I think I was more excited than Eldest Child and so I woke him up at 8.30 so I could I drive him to the Secondary School and collect his results. The car park wasn’t open and of course the street was full of cars parked by parents equally excited to find out if their children’s hard work had paid off. I ended up parking further down, past the school and past the private school next door and so it felt like Eldest Child was gone ages when he walked up to the school and back.

In order to get into the Sixth Form at the Grammar School he had applied to he needed to get 9 GCSE’s at grades 4 to 9, he needed at least grades 5 in Maths and English and at least grades 6 in his A Level subjects and in all the sciences if he was studying a science at A Level (which he was).

When he returned to the car, he was poker faced. I wasn’t particularly worried that he had done terribly as he was predicted to get good grades, especially in his chosen A Level subjects, but there was always the possibility of a disaster, particularly in Maths or English.

I did not need to worry, his grades were amazing and I was very proud of him. He had got the required grades for the subjects he wanted to study at A Level, which were Biology, Geography and Classical Civilisations and 7’s in Maths and English. All we had to do now was to go to the Sixth Form with his results and enrol.

We went on the train to the Sixth Form because (due to my fear of driving on motorways and fast roads) I didn’t feel comfortable driving as it was via a busy by-pass that made my stomach churn just at the thought of driving on it. Plus, he would be travelling by train when he started in September, so it would be good to get a feel for his journey.

When we arrived, we handed in the results and were given a number and told there was an hour wait to be seen. WTF? I had assumed we would be in and out. As we sat down number 34 was called (we were number 69) and a lady behind us said “at last, it was only a two hour wait”! FML I should have brought a book.

Two and a half hours later, we were called into a room with two members of the Senior Leadership Team. They looked at his results and said how pleased he must be, looked at the subjects he wanted to study and said they didn’t see a problem with that, then shook his hand and said “welcome to the Sixth Form”. Really! A two and a half hour wait for less than 90 seconds! FFS!

We were also to get an email confirming the offer and had strict instructions to reply to it by 10am tomorrow.

As we were making our way over the railway bridge to go back home, a train pulled in on our platform. Eldest Child shouted at me to “hurry up we can make it” so I did my best not to break my neck and run down the stairs in my Birkenstock sliders. We just managed to make it onto the train before the doors closed and it pulled off.

“Are you sure this is our train?” I asked Eldest Child.

“I think so.”

At the first stop, just as the doors closed and the train began to pull away, the diver announced that this particular train was now fast to London Bridge! WTF?

“We should have got off at that stop!” I exclaimed looking at Eldest Child in horror. He just shrugged his shoulders and asked me if I knew how many times he had made that mistake. Well he should have bloody well known better then. So now we had to go all the way to London Bridge on a hot, stuffy train, before coming back on ourselves. FFS!

We got to London Bridge and ran down the escalator, three platforms across and up another escalator to catch the train back, which decided to leave a minute early, causing us to miss it. FML!

We then jumped on a faster train and that passed the train that we had missed and we managed to catch up to it and was soon on the right track and back to our home station. By the time we got home, I felt like I had been out for a whole day.

Friday 23rd August

In order to celebrate Eldest Child’s fantastic results, we had decided to go to The Carvery last night, which was his favourite restaurant, and due to my stressful afternoon, I decided to have a couple of large glasses of Malbec. So, when I got home and tried to respond to the email confirming his place at Sixth Form and the link took me to a log in page, which I didn’t have a log in for, I at first put it down to the wine. Two hours later and completely sober I was still at a loss as to how to confirm his place and was wondering if we should perhaps have been given some log in information during yesterday’s very quick interview. Eldest Child was getting slightly concerned and got me to promise I would ring them first thing in the morning.

So, at 8am I rang, hoping that someone would be there as I only had two hours in which to sort this out. Fortunately, a very nice lady answered the phone and immediately asked me if I’d had a problem with accepting the place. It turns out it wasn’t just me being computer illiterate after a couple of glasses of wine, but an actual fault which had now been sorted. Five minutes later Eldest Child’s Sixth Form place had been accepted and he was now a fully-fledged College Boy!

I decided to spend the afternoon ordering uniforms, stationary and text books. OMG! £450 later and I still had to get Middle Child’s shoes and that total did not include Eldest Child’s suit and shoes. His text books alone cost me £89 and that was just for four books. He also had homework already and one task was to print off the specification for the Biology A Level course. It was 126 pages long! A box of copier paper went onto the stationary list. I also pay a very low price of £1.99 to my printer company and for that I get to print fifty sheets and when my ink runs out the very clever printer lets them know and they send me ink cartridges for no extra charge. Well if his first task includes printing 126 pages, along with my degree course, fifty pages isn’t going to last very long. So, I had to upgrade my package, which of course increases my monthly fee. Still £7.99 isn’t too bad considering the price of ink cartridges (and more importantly I don’t have the hassle of ordering them or going out to buy them).

Granted I do buy all the pens, pencils etc in bulk at the start of the year and this year there will be four students in the house, so the stationary bill came to £150! Thank goodness I gave in a few years ago and got a credit card, otherwise I am not sure where I would be finding all of this money as I still have a week to go before I get paid.

To be fair The Husband did say if I needed money to just say but I still have to send him out suit shopping with Eldest Child yet!

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