Here in Australia, it’s not only the holiday season; it’s also the school holiday season, and my beloved brood of three is home from school for an entire eight weeks of our summer … meaning I’m smack-bang in the middle of what is always one of the hardest times of the year for me to get words on the page.
Now, my gang are not little kids any more. They’re seventeen, fifteen, and eleven. When they were smaller I used to long for them to be this age, when writing whilst they were home would be oh so very easy.
Now, admittedly, writing with bigger kids at home is a little more simple than when they were small. They can all wash/dress/feed/toilet/entertain themselves. They’re all well past the age where participating in suicidal antics – like seeing what happens when you stick a fork in the toaster or the cat in the washing machine or a massive ball of tin foil in the microwave on ‘high’ for five minutes – is all part of a day’s work, so I’m no longer required to be on constant yard duty.
But bigger kids’ needs don’t completely disappear. They’re just different.
Like needing me to drive them to the movies or the beach so they can catch up with friends. Or helping them work on their resumes so they can search for part-time work. Or sitting in the passenger seat beside my learner driver son, so he can rack up more of the seventy-five hours of driving he needs before he can earn his licence (whilst simultaneously adding to my grey hairs).
They’re also growing like mad, which means repeated shopping trips to pick up new shoes and clothes to replace the ones I bought only a few short months ago.
And then there’s the grocery shopping.
Two teenage boys eat A LOT.
But the hardest part of trying to write with bigger kids in the house really has little to do with any of the above. Despite the different busyness I now face, I really do have more freedom to write than when they were small.
The trouble is, my big kids have become Really Interesting young people. My seventeen-year-old’s opinions on Radiohead and Tarantino movies and the crisis in Syria; the scientific tidbits about quantum physics and space that my fifteen-year-old shares; the madcap stories my eleven year-old writes and sometimes lets me read … they are totally, endlessly fascinating to me.
(I’m their mother. I’m supposed to be ridiculously biased). 😉
Sure, I miss the cuddles and the cuteness of their smaller selves, but this age is terrific. I really enjoy my kids’ company. And part of me knows I need to make the most of them, especially when I think that in a mere five years time, maybe less, at least one of the threesome might have flown the coop …
Having these fascinating, big kids home all summer means the hardest part about finding time to write isn’t finding the elusive, precious time to escape them.
It’s finding the self-discipline to shut the door on them.
Oh, the irony.