Summer-saults.

Musings of a transnational mama:

Two weeks of summer holidays already gone, time flies indeed. Summer holidays are fun.

For many parents it’s a lovely break from the school run and early mornings. They can be a blessing summer holidays. A time to reflect and renew together as a family. A time to mellow on the memories of yesteryear. For some families summer is the transitioning from either early years to primary or even primary to high school. What an emotional roller coaster! We have been there and done that a few times. 
Thankfully, we are on hold for now. Next year will be a totally different story. Big brother will be completely done with school, did I say that? Yes, and heaven knows how I am going to cope.

Until then, I am focussing on now, the present. At the beginning of summer our two completed the comprehensive list of things to do for summer. This includes play dates with whom, when and where.

I have since learnt that school holidays, teenagers and their friends can be a conundrum. Actually, the lack of planning from a parents’ point can be very detrimental. This is an area that has been challenging for me since our two have transitioned into adolescence and being in high school.

With big brother, it wasn’t much of an issue as the group of ‘lads’ he hung out with seemed pretty ok. Big brother went to a local well resourced and sought after selective high school. Being a social butterfly that he is, he befriended 5boys, fondly known as ‘the lads’. Me and hubby had the privilege of meeting these pedigrees and their parents at big brother’s 12th birthday, 6months into high school. A lovely bunch of parents with sound moral standards, good careers, positive and firm aspirations for their children. Typical authoritative parents, sensitive, intuitive and insightful. We fell in love with them and felt motivated and encouraged. Easily done we felt.

During the school holidays, throughout the 4years of secondary school, the lads met quite often outside of school. These meetings varied from the adventurous sleepovers, camping in the garden, playing in the woods, cinema trips etc. We did not have a problem with the long tracks to their residences and back. We got to know the lads, and they enjoyed our company, the take aways, sleep overs at our house as well as banter with little sis. What more could you ask for?

Fast forward to our darling daughter starting high school. The dynamics are a labyrinth. She is a winter baby and her birthday was a few months after starting high school. The poor girl wanted to hang out with her old primary school friends, catch up over some warm cheesy pizza, ice cream and ofcourse shopping. She was as good as gold. What a missed opportunity for us to meet her future bffs, squad and gang!!  These are young women who have now become the centre of her world, aspirations and dreams. She now gets invited to sleepovers, shopping sprees, cinema, restaurants on every school break. And that is hard, hard for me as a momma bear assigned to protect her cubs. ‘ I don’t know these people, I tell myself.’ How do I trust them with my jewel and treasure? My job in safeguarding children doesn’t help at this stage.

I recall a few years back when my cherubs were 6 and 18months and family friends with older children were anxious about the summer holidays. I couldn’t fathom what the drama was all about. For us, it was a longed for break from early school runs and pick up. What a perfect time for lie ins, late nights movie binge, picnics in the garden, bike rides in the cul de sac, impromptu braai with friends, trips to the museum and maybe a day or two in London. Life couldn’t be perfect. We even caught the infamous Nottinghill carnival.

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Anyway, now with two teens in the house, I find myself rather unsettled and concerned about these loooooong school holidays. Why can’t they just stay in school? Right now I am a cruel, insensitive mother, you can judge and call me that.
I would implore you to keep your judgment until you understand my anxieties. Summer holidays are tricky in terms of managing the time effectively and giving your teens a sense of direction whilst maintaining a level of sanity and a decent bank balance. Don’t mention big brother needing encouragement to revise for the all important A’levels.
 I now appreciate that these results aren’t that important in the grand scheme of things. I deal with teens suffering significant mental health due to pressure from peers, parents and society at large. My heart goes out to them. And with that, the pressure has come off our two, not completely.. but we are working on it and very mindful 😊

The unavailability of extended family in diaspora can present a lot of challenges in terms of childcare and socialising. In most cases, our children socialise with their friends and it is a good thing. However, I cannot seem to break away from the longing of playing with cousins and making memories that endure the test of time. You know those visits to the rural areas, during the school holidays, tending to the fields, fetching water from the well, sitting around the fire waiting for the running chicken drum stick whilst having teary, stinging eyes from the smoke?. And the epic, taking a bath by the river. These kind of experiences is what I long for, for my two.

There is a significant part of me that feels I should package my children neatly and send them off to be with grandparents for the summer. Once I have done the number crunching, it becomes apparent that the sums do not add up. So we are stuck right here for now. Moreover, I have now learnt that evenings with grandparents nowadays are spent watching Isindigo or Muvhango 😳🤓

How is your summer holiday panning out? Share some love and ideas. Don’t forget to comment and share article with loved ones.

Enjoy the summer break, make memories and look after each other. Be hopeful always ❤

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