It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Holiday Madness

I will be taking holidays the last two weeks of the month. Not that I’m going anywhere, because that would require spare money, but I do have the time off.

I was explaining my ‘plans’ to a neighbour, who said, “Oh, I never worry about whether I can afford it. I just do it.” Which (OF COURSE) only means that she CAN SO afford it. Means she has no idea what it is to really not be able to afford something. She wouldn’t be having to go without a little something – like, say, groceries for two weeks – to have her little getaway.

I never worry, I just do it.” Bah. Get awaaay from me.

I didn’t say any of this, of course. Because Mary is almost always polite. (And this neighbour? She’s the one renowned on the street for the brawl she had a couple of years ago with another woman. Started with verbal invective, moved on to full physical melee. Their husbands had to pull them apart. No kidding. On my street! So I am nice to her. I speak softly, I make no sudden movements. ‘There, there. Niiice nasty neighbour. Nice girl.’)

So, I’m taking time off at the end of the month. I will be doing a few special things, though. Because it is, after all, my holiday time and I do deserve a change of pace. Which is why I plan to repaint the living room, dining room, and front hall. And declutter one end of the basement so as to begin the expansion of my son’s shoebox of a bedroom.

I can afford to expand the bedroom but not a holiday? Such self-sacrifice!! you say. (Or perhaps you are shaking your tsk-ing finger at me.) Fear not. The sacrifice is his, not mine. He’s building it, with direction from his grandfather. Time the boy learned to wield a hammer and frame a wall. A good life skill.

A life skill which will be put to EXCELLENT use when he finishes the rest of the basement. But he doesn’t know about that yet. All he knows it that it will cost him a lot less (yes, him; you didn’t think I was paying for this, did you?) if he builds his room, rather than paying someone else. And he is kind of looking forward to doing it. It’s sorta cool to be able to do this stuff for yourself, ya know?

I’m thinking I might loiter for some framing-and-drywall lessons myself. I hate not knowing stuff. Which is not to say that I’ll do it – I will be on holiday, remember?

So. Painting and decuttering and organizing and maybe even some carpentry lessons. Do I know how to holiday, or what??

Which is why I decided to have a holiday Sangria Send-off my last day of work.

NOoooo, not during working hours. At the end of the day, the parents will come a little early and leave a little late, and I will have several large pitchers of sangria for us all. Including one non-alcoholic one for the gestating mama in the crowd.

I offered childcare. Emma can take the tots to the park, I said.

They turned me down. “Oh, no!! We want to see them play together! We want to know what goes on! We want to see the dynamic! It’ll be so cute!”

I stifle a groan and release a smile. ‘Course you do. What parent doesn’t want to see such cuteness? Except… What they’ll see in the evening with mommy and daddy present will be very little like what happens during the day with just Mary. The only way to see that would be to put a hidden camera in the room. (Hidden, because as soon as the little hambones knew there was a camera in range, you’d see nothing but grinning children, standing (mostly) still, or jockeying for front-and-centre position.)

Because when the parents are there, they behave as they would for the parents. The whole dynamic changes, and (hear me sigh) … they tend to behave worse. There’s more whining, there’s more squabbling, there’s more whining, there’s more aggression, there’s more whining, there’s more clingy-ness, there’s more whining. Oh, and there’s more whining.

It’s not all bad, because these are sweet children. There’s more of all that stuff, not ONLY all that stuff. But it’s not what I’m used to seeing, and an hour or two of exasperation is not how I really wanted to end my week.

Thank god for the sangria. Which I will not slip to any of the children. No, really. I won’t.

August 13, 2007 - Posted by | daycare, holidays, my kids, parents, the dark side


  1. Sounds like a lovely holiday! And the whining, etc.? That’s the exact same reason that I don’t use parent volunteers in my 4th grade classroom very often.

    Comment by McSwain | August 13, 2007 | Reply

  2. If you can’t go somewhere, the next best thing is to do some home improvement (even better if you’re not the one doing the building!)

    This was so funny: “Niiice nasty neighbor.” I’ll remember that next time I’m around one of the “dangerous” types.

    Comment by Alison | August 13, 2007 | Reply

  3. Sounds a lot like my holiday last week. Starting the building of Pumpkinpie’s new room, shopping for curtain fabric and rods, cleaning out and reorganizing the stuff that had been in that room, and so on. And some reading. But you know, it may not be glam? But it feels good to get some stuff done, too.

    It kind of makes me want to sing, though:

    It’s a jolly ‘oliday with Ma-ary…

    Comment by kittenpie | August 13, 2007 | Reply

  4. Due to tightened belt, we have had several vacations from home. Good thing, it turned out the last three vacations, one or all of us have been sick.

    Fingers crossed, we’ll get away to San Diego the end of the month.

    Exciting things going on in your home, a new room, new paint. I love doing things to the house. Amazing how new your home can feel with new paint. Have fun!

    Comment by mamacita tina | August 13, 2007 | Reply

  5. People who ‘just do it’ either can afford it, or just go deeper into debt. I’d not do that for a holiday, I think it’s daft.

    We spent quite a few years holidaying from home. We’d go for days out with nice walks and a picnic and get things done at home – it was the change of routine that mattered.

    Comment by z | August 13, 2007 | Reply

  6. z beat me to saying exactly the same thing: they either can afford the holiday or are just digging their financial hole deeper. So often the people who say similar things to me (about “not worrying about it… just doing it”) are the same ones that periodically fret aloud about how cash-strapped they are. Not my kind of living.

    We’re doing a lot of home holidays now… it just makes sense with the kids so young. They aren’t old enough to get a lot out of “content” based travel, and trying to maintain some sense of structure to keep the kids reasonably happy tends to kill a lot of the fun for me and my husband. We’re seizing the opportunity for more family day trips instead (zoo, aquarium, museums, fairs, etc.) and I think we all have a better time. Holidays are about dispelling stress, not adding it.

    Comment by Karen | August 13, 2007 | Reply

  7. I will admit to putting a recent getaway on the credit card. But it was our first one in eleven years and I just needed it so badly that I didn’t care it put us deeper in debt.

    And yum! Sangria!

    Comment by kelli in the mirror | August 13, 2007 | Reply

  8. I know the one about other people just not understanding that you cant afford it. My well paid uncle keeps demanding to know why I dont drive, its not that expensive to run a car he says with a shrug, umm, buy a car, tax, mot, petrol, parking costs, umm where would you like me to pull that money from when I go down to pence in my account by the end of each week?

    Comment by jenny uk | August 14, 2007 | Reply

  9. We have never been able afford to take “real” holidays either so we started camping when the kids were young.

    Camping is not everyone’s cup of tea I know but it is an option for when you have more time than money and you just want to get away.

    Good luck with the renovations. We partially finished our basement a few years back and it was great fun and very satisfying to do it ourselves.

    Comment by Sheri | August 14, 2007 | Reply

  10. I love Sangria! Sadly, I would be the person drinking the non-alkie kind right now…Have a great vacation.

    Comment by nomotherearth | August 14, 2007 | Reply

  11. Sadly, I have a friend who takes vacations when she really can’t afford it. I can’t understand it – I wouldn’t be able to enjoy it if I knew it was putting me that much more in debt. Unfortunately she seems to have decided that she’ll never be out of debt (and with that attitude, she won’t ever be).

    I’ve taken camping vacations plenty of times – partly because they are cheap, also because I really enjoy camping and the change in routines.

    Comment by Katherine | August 14, 2007 | Reply

  12. Would it be ok if I said we don’t go on complicated vacations because I hate them? Ok, hate is a strong word…. they give me anxiety then?

    More important… what COLOR are you painting??

    Comment by Homestead | August 16, 2007 | Reply

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