By Angie Jacobs
It’s great when the children are away. You can repeat yourself 10 times and nobody catches you out as there’s only your husband, who doesn’t listen anyway.
This summer was somewhat of a domestic adventure, a living experiment in what happens to family dynamics when you take one or more of the members out of the equation. On 10 July, our 16-year-old daughter went to Israel “on tour” for just over three weeks.
Two days before her return, our 13-year-old son went to summer camp in Wales.
This meant Tony and I would be home alone for two days and, far more interesting to others, two nights. We have been together for 22 years, yet the idea of these two nights without the children caused much fascination to friends and colleagues: “Aye aye. What are you gonna get up to then?”
Nudges and winks ensued. The nights arrived and our mood was mixed – happy to be seeing Child #1 soon, but sad that we wouldn’t see Child #2 for a fortnight.
We did think about a night out, but what was the point? However, we did do something exciting that we had never done be- fore (it’s ok, this is the Jewish News remember, you can read on).
It was a hot night, so we charged up the laptop and watched an episode of The Killing outside on sun loungers.
We got extremely bitten, but not by each other. Living the dream. (Later, when my son asked about our nights alone and I said we’d done something adventurous, he exclaimed: “No way did dad cough up and take you out.”)
Certain things change when one child is away. The arguments were fewer and less passionate. How can you moan that the other one gets more attention/lifts/money than you, if you’re the only one there? Mealtimes were calmer and queues for the bathroom shorter. Blame becomes futile, too, and we’ve sussed out the culprits to certain crimes.
She leaves all the toothpaste stains in the sink and he happily opens a second packet of grated cheese without checking to see if one is already open. Both eat copious amounts of chocolate.
They had a fantastic time on their trips, neither bothering much to phone or email us. Clothes came back verschtunkene, as did my son. There’d been a hair dyeing episode before he went. I got a call at work: ”Can I dye my hair? It’ll wash out before I’m back at school. Dad says he doesn’t mind as long as it’s not red, blue or green.” I gave in, not wanting to be the baddie and working on the theory that it was not a tattoo or a piercing. He tried for blonder, but got yellow.
My son, the eighties reject. Another visit to Superdrug and another gorgeous female volunteer hairdresser and he was ginger. A month on and it’s almost back to normal. He’s back to his well-coiffed and spotless self and the only remnant of camp is the 17 items of ‘friendship’ wristwear.
We missed them both, separately and together. The house was quiet and there were more losses than gains. But we coped and I only cried at the airport waiting for my daughter’s appearance (she was most put out I cried then and not when she left.)
All four of us back under one roof and there was the big event of the summer left – results day. She had worked hard and deserved to do well. I prayed. We had suffered enough. My son, who never gets up before noon unless he has a female caller, decided to come with us to school to get his sister’s results. The atmosphere in the car was tense, then I heard him start to sing.
The song was about his “Auntie Tovah who had a chicken” and he sang it in an Eastern Jewish ac- cent, complete with arm movements and actions. “I’ll teach it to you” he decided, with glee. Now, there’s a time and place for everything and this was certainly a stress diverter.
So, if on a Thursday morning in late August, you were on Kenton Road and saw a family in a Vauxhall Vectra singing and jerking along like Stanmore’s answer to Black Lace, that would have been us.
A big thank you to RSY Netzer for providing Ethan with the ditty. Does anyone know its origin? Google doesn’t.
Next instalment: The Jacobs in Portugal.