It’s the big day! We’ve been building up to Dexter going away for a week’s residential to the Isle of Wight with his school for six months now. I’ve been saving like mad and paying off a little bit each week and today’s the day. I’ve woken up early and beat the alarm – you know when you’re super conscious that you’ll sleep through your alarm, even though you never do? But you know that today will be that one day you do? That. So I’m awake and just pondering what to do with a whole week to myself.
Luckily, we (I say we, I mean ‘I’), packed Dexter’s bag yesterday so we’re all good to go. I’ve gone for a ‘less is more’ approach because I know for a fact that even though I’ve packed 5 pairs of boxers and socks, he’ll just use the same pair every day. But I can’t have any of the teachers think that he only owns one pair, so I’ve packed loads nonetheless. I was also sent out with the strict instruction yesterday to buy him an afro comb for the mid-week disco, so that’s gone in, together with some face wipes. Because let’s face it, I can’t imagine he’ll shower without me there to nag him.
We arrived at school bang on time and this is the point where I say goodbye. Would he cry? Would I? Would he tell me he doesn’t want to go because he’ll just miss me SO much? Yeah, not so much. A quick hug and a kiss and that was that – he’s off. I hung around for a while talking to the other parents but realised his coach wouldn’t be leaving any time soon so I popped down to Costa to start work early. Except I sat there unable to muster enough enthusiasm to even get my laptop out or check my email on my phone … most unlike me. Costa is at the bottom of the school’s road, and so if I lean out of my chair far enough, I can see whether the coach has left or not. It hasn’t. I repeated this manoeuvre three times until, at 8.50am, the coach finally appeared at the junction and I leapt out of my chair, ran outside in the faint hope that Dexter will see me and not be mortified by me jumping up and down waving. As luck would have it, just as I looked up to the top deck, I spotted the big afro … and he spotted me, and we both waved madly to each other, the earlier ‘nonchalent polite in front of everyone’ hug forgotten.
I’ve tried writing a blog post but still can’t concentrate. I’m a free woman for God’s sake! I should be packing my bags and jetting off to New York but instead, I’m going to pop to the bank to put a cheque in, Tescos to buy some apples and then I might go home. That’s it.
The thing is, as you know, I’m a single mum, but I’m one that never has a break from being a parent as Dexter doesn’t see his Dad … so there is no ‘weekend on/weekend off’ routine – it’s just me. Me and Dexter ALL the time. And don’t get me wrong, I love him more than life itself (most of the time), but this week ‘off’ is a rare break for me. But now it’s here, I don’t quite know what to do with myself.
I toyed with cycling to the cinema, got as far as looking up the screening times for ‘Spy’. But instead, I went home and watched the Game of Thrones finale. Which, to be fair, was amazing, so I’m totally winning at Monday.
I wonder where he is? He might be boarding the ferry by now, or throwing up over the side. He’s never been on a ferry before so we don’t know if he gets seasick or not. Who’s going to look after him if he’s poorly? Will anyone even notice? Man up Kate, he’s 11 years old, he’ll be fine.
I made an omelette and spent too much time deciding on the toppings because I didn’t want to think about Dexter falling overboard.
And so it continues. The funny thing is, my eldest did this exact same trip ten years ago and so I know/knew what to expect, but I can’t help but feel bereft. Because the thing is, this is just one more thing that I won’t ever get to do again. The countdown of his final few weeks at primary school has begun and that’s it then … end of an era, not just for Dexter, but for me too. As each milestone passes, I mourn for the things I’ll never get to do again. Of course, there’s lots to look forward to, but I am needed less and less by both of my boys and when you are their whole world (at least in my mind I am) … it has left me feeling a little sorry for myself.
I’ve arranged a couple of trips up to London this week and it’s funny to think I won’t have to rush back to be there for Dexter coming home from school. This week, technically speaking, I could do anything … go anywhere, but the ‘problem’ with being a parent is that even if your kids aren’t with you, you never switch off. You are ALWAYS a parent, no matter what, no matter where they are, or how old they are.
I may check the school’s website occasionally (ie. every day) to make sure they got there safely and that they’re having a good time but I know he’ll have a fantastic time. Someone said to me today that when their son went away for their week’s residential, they somehow came back all grown up. I know what they mean … I don’t think Dexter will quite be the same when he comes home. Unfortunately for my two boys though, they’ll always be my babies … whether they like it or not!
What would you do if you were child-free for a week?