OPINION: The madness of going away and leaving kids home alone

OPINION: The madness of going away and leaving kids home alone

Angie Jacobs
Angie Jacobs

By Angie Jacobs 

As a parent of teenagers, sometimes you’ve just got to face the facts: “sick” means good, creme eggs are half the size and your children don’t want to go on holiday with you. We’d been fighting against the third premise for the past few years, taking our ingrates to foreign climes, only to have them bitching and moaning about how bored they were.

This year, they had both done their own things while we stayed in Blighty, munching on tofu and nut roast. We wanted a break. We needed a break. But surely we couldn’t leave them home… alone?! I didn’t need much encouragement: “They’re not babies. They go all over on their own, they’re both more than capable in the kitchen (albeit cooking rather than tidying up) and anyway your sister and brother-in-law live less than two miles away.”

For once, my husband was making sense. Before I knew it, I had found a self-catering apartment with air conditioning, Wi-Fi and a pool overlooking the Adriatic Sea in Croatia. With one bedroom. And what’s more, it was a veritable snip, as it was September and all the children would be back at school. We couldn’t, could we? We could, couldn’t we? But there was the guilt.

I turned to my mother for advice. Surely the most over-protective parent in the history of the universe would bring me back down to earth. “Get it booked!” she said. I did. The news was met with mixed response from my offspring. Ilana: “I think it’s a great idea; you and Dad really need a break. But we need to sit down and have a chat with Ethan before you go, as it’s my A-level year and I have to have the house quiet for studying. I can’t be wasting time clearing up after him and worrying about where he is and how he’s getting home. We need rotas, lists and rules.”

Ethan: “PAAAAARTAY!” I must admit, I didn’t sleep too well in the days leading up to the trip and I worried that the holiday would be ruined owing to my plutzing about what they, well to be honest he, would be getting up to. I did what I could. I hid the vodka, made a list of emergency contacts and wrote out a list of do’s and don’ts, the first letter of each word spelling out Nutella. (I’m at my most creative when wracked with guilt.) My son took glee in winding me up. If he wanted to get his hands on alcohol, he could. Ethan Daley. Skype? Pah! They would set up the laptop in the one tidy corner of the house.

The morning of departure arrived and I wanted to kill my husband. He had the suitcase gig all sorted, I needn’t worry, he just had to get one down from the loft. The first one was ripped, the second one was dangerous and the third one smelt of cheese. We were in Argos at 9am, two hours before the taxi was due to arrive. The taxi arrived on time and we put our snazzy new suitcase in the boot. We waved the kids goodbye and it all felt a bit surreal.

This is the bit where I usually write about all the mishaps, moaning and misery that happened on holiday. I have nothing. The flat was spotless (the only livestock being the expected mosquitoes, rather than rodents), the view was sublime and the husband was really rather pleasant. Croatia is a beautiful country. The roads were quiet and the restaurants inexpensive. We read, swam and walked hand in hand in the mountains, picking fresh figs off the trees as we went along.

It became apparent though, that there was something rotten in the state of Stanmore and that something was my son. Did I let it spoil my holiday? No. I soothed my daughter on Skype, told her we’d be home before she knew it and went back to my research on Croatian wine. It’s amazing how you can switch off on holiday.

We were home before we knew it, the house was still standing and my daughter hadn’t committed fratricide. He informed us he’d done nothing wrong and we always take her side. She informed us that we weren’t leaving him with her again.(This is a shame, as I have some Tesco vouchers maturing in February and I was hoping for a sneaky week in the Canaries.)

Whatever. We’d pulled it off.

read more: