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OK, calling all parents! Truth Time – have you ever contemplated going on strike? Or walking out and not coming back for a good ten years or so? – I admit I have! (Though I haven’t actually done so, YET!)

Recently our two older sons (aged 14 and 12) have turned sniping at me and ridiculing me into a sport: I am the most embarrassing parent alive, I get absolutely nothing right, my incompetent ways of looking after them border on child abuse (like: not agreeing to 7 hours of computer time day… dreadful! Go call Childline darling!!)

Yesterday was a beautiful day. Our three children have spent too much time cooped up indoors recently so we decided to take them for a walk at Nunhead Cemetery. Once we got there the two older ones disappeared from view pretty quickly as they no longer want to be seen with their ‘naff parents’. The cemetery was so waterlogged that large parts of it were like an ‘impassable pond’ (to quote one lady in leopard tights who warned us to venture no further). We did turn back, assuming the ‘teenagers’ had simply walked home, as there was no sign of them. When we didn’t find them waiting for us at home, my husband drove back to find them.

As it turns out our eldest son had had a (very minor) fall at the cemetery and we have been hearing about this ‘drama’ for the rest of the day: “I got dumped and abandoned in a graveyard, seriously injured, what kind of parents are you exactly?!!!”

In the meantime I “enjoyed” the rest of the Sunday doing several machines of wash, picking mud clots of rugby clothing, tidying, cleaning, designing and printing off invitations for a Teenage Birthday Party here next weekend and generally trying hard to to be civil. I have also been trying hard NOT to remember WBC (Weekends Before Children).

By evening I thought: I am not washing or ironing another shirt. I am not preparing another meal. I am not hosting another kids’ party. I am not picking another sheet of maths homework or sheet music off the floor. I am not engaging in any discussions about increasing pocket money or computer time. I am now officially ON STRIKE!!!

If I get everything wrong – they are most welcome to do things better themselves. I will have time to read books, drink tea with friends and catch up on sleep while they shop, cook and wash clothes…

“I am out of school shirts!!” – Great! Let me give you a quick tutorial in how the washing machine and iron work…

“I don’t like your cooking at all!” – Great! Here is some money, Sainsbury’s is just down the road, I really look forward to eating what you cook for our family tonight!

After doing Design and Technology in school for a few years now, I am sure you know how to operate a sewing kit, a bike type mending kit…

And while I am on the subject: these days Gap Years for A level students are very fashionable. That’s brilliant of course. However I would like to suggest that Mums get to have a Gap Year once a decade, to go absolutely wherever they like to do absolutely whatever they want.

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My Gap Year will be in Greenland. I shall look into flights tomorrow. My dream is to ‘paint in darkness’, learn Inuktitut, see the Aurora Borealis many times and come home looking and feeling like the Inuit woman I probably was in a previous lifetime.

Is anyone joining me?!! What are you going to do on your YOUR GAP YEAR?!!!

Imelda Almqvist

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