In my last blog I waxed lyrical about our ‘respite carer’ (if I start calling her that then I reckon she will have to do it again!) Shirley – how I was in need of a break and how Shirley and her family put themselves forward to support that. And, after several failed attempts at actually leaving the country, we (me, my husband and three children) finally decided on a trip to London and then a couple of days at Alton Towers. Great. A perfect plan. Or so I thought…
I think, as a parent, it’s full on. It’s always full on. And it doesn’t matter whether you have one child or six, foster, half, step or full…all children are testing. And funnily enough, I’d forgotten that. I’d been so focussed on having respite from our placement children that I’d forgotten that really, I could do with respite from my own. Although, I’m not sure Nexus Fostering could organise that!
Now that my two eldest are teenagers they share a hotel room and me, my husband and our youngest (lucky us!) share one next door. Mistake number one. Well, it was like having two old women crossed with Kevin and Perry living next door. If I heard ‘she’s too messy’ or ‘he is FaceTiming girls at midnight’ one more time I reckon I’d have lost it. They bickered, argued and fought throughout the whole London trip. It was exhausting to say the least.
Where I’d been (naively) expecting blissful harmony I instead had what every other parent of teenagers has – military operational negotiation mixed with hormonal outbursts of irrational emotions. Mistake number two was expecting children who actually needed a rest themselves, to walk and trek around London in the heat. My daughter must need a good, solid 16 hours of sleep to even be able to function! It was like dragging round a corpse! A very moany corpse at that!
Alton Towers was different though. Mainly because, if they were bickering, I couldn’t hear it due to being stationed on a bench with an overpriced (but highly needed) mocha whilst they stood for hours in line for 50 seconds of adrenaline filled screaming. During my periods of mocha drinking, I reflected on the week and how maybe we shouldn’t have visited all of those tourist attractions in one day and maybe they were now too old for the Sea Life Centre and maybe, just maybe I should try and book a night away for just myself and my husband. A real break. Because, as parents, these are few and far between but very much needed.