It was one week day evening last week – and I was sat on the sofa stressing that the plan for the next day wasn’t remotely exciting for the boys. They would spend an hour at the indoor play center near our house in the morning – and then we would come home, have lunch, and spend the afternoon together at home.
As I mulled over the plan, my husband turned to me and said: “What do you remember about summer holidays from your childhood?”
I thought about it for a second.
And happy memories came flooding back.
I remembered long summer evenings playing with my siblings in the garden, pretending our climbing frame was a treasure island and that dipping our toes onto the grass would mean certain death from shark attack. We ran around that garden screaming, grabbing the climbing frame in sheer relief, and pulling ourselves up huffing and puffing until we reached the top, And we’d do it all afternoon – until at some point, probably well before the sun set, my parents would call us in for tea, bath and bed.
I remember going to watch my Dad play cricket at the weekends, wiling away hours playing on swings and seesaws, eating ham sandwiches and dipping fresh strawberries into cream, before lying on a picnic blanket on the grass staring up at the sky to find shapes in the clouds as the sound of birdsong, cheers, and the knock of a ball hitting a cricket bat filled the air.
I remember pub gardens, fish and chip suppers, visits to doting grandparents, the smell of freshly cut grass, the feeling of the mild summer air on my skin, and the simple joy of not having to get up early to go to school.
I know there was more to it – we went on holidays in caravans, made sandcastles on beaches, ran out to ice cream vans when their song rang out in our street, visited zoos, and fed duck in the park.
But there was nothing complicated about the memories of my childhood summers. No doubt my parents spent a fortune trying to entertain us – but I don’t remember the expensive things. I remember making my own memories, with my siblings, letting my imagination run wild as we ran around our garden fearing shark attacks.
I asked my husband the same question – and his memories were very similar. He remembers playing football with his friends until the sun started to set, grabbing tennis rackets and heading off for a match with his Dad, and long, lazy days at home playing in the garden.
And as we sat there reflecting on the sofa; him sipping a glass of wine and me sipping something far less exciting, I realised how hard I’d been trying to make every activity over the summer holidays ‘magic’ – and the guilt I’ve felt that I am inevitably, at 36 weeks pregnant, stating to fail.
I wanted every day to be about making memories they held onto forever; memories they wanted to tell their teachers and friends about when they got back to school; and memories that would stay with them until adulthood.
I just didn’t realise I was doing that anyway.
And the very next day, as they ran around the house together (one pretending he was a tiger – sat on a red car, obviously – and the other shrieking with laughter as he was chased), I realised they were making their own memories too.
Different to the summers of my own childhood, yes.
But still making their own memories, together, in this hot summer in Dubai.
And that’s as ‘magic’ as it needs to get.