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My mother in law offered during the first week of the school holidays to take my older two away. “Let me have them there is a good summer camp here and they will have lots of fun!”  I did not need to be asked twice, although I did feel a little guilty. But the constant arguing between them here, the tensions as I tried to re arrange a perfectly working child minding pattern, I had developed while they were in school, all was beginning to take it’s toll. The worst was we were only 2 weeks into the holidays, could I even make it to the 30th of August!! It was as hard on them as on me. This may ease it for everyone.

So off we went last weekend, bags packed excitement kicking in as they realised they were about to spend a week with their fabulous young and glamorous Gran! They had indeed been booked into a great local camp every activity any 11 year old and 8 year old could wish for, including absailing, rock climbing and swimming.

Then it started the guilt slowly creeping in, kicked off by the 11 year olds nervousness as she realised the enormity of going to a camp where she knew no one. The 8 year olds solution to just announce he wasn’t staying and would have his bags packed by the time we were heading back to Dublin.

What was I to do?

Had I acted so selfishly, I felt like I was getting rid of them, looking for the easy way out and putting them in uncomfortable situations all for a bit of peace, all because I was working and trying to fit it all in. Well a different kind of peace I still had the baby over the next week, but that was an easy type of week.  Dinners could be a multitude of those recipes that lunge out of the Sunday papers supplements, that you have been dying to try, without the upturned noses as you try something new!

But No! They were about to have the time of their lives you knew it, the Grandparents knew it they just hadn’t the life skills to realise it. You needed to turn this around for their sakes, they needed to be scared and nervous and realise it would be ok. You needed to encourage them to do this.

So after dinner you and hubby headed back home, leaving 2 kids happy at being at the Grandparents, but upset and nervous about what tomorrow would bring.

Monday morning and the texts started from the 11 year old. “Mom, please don’t make us do this! Ask Gran, can we stay at home. Pleeasse!” My instant reaction was my heart was bursting, as I felt so sorry for her as I recalled many occasions even as an adult when I was nervous about going to events that people were there, that I didn’t know. So I sent her back a text,talking was not possible as I may let it slip I was nervous for her as well.

” I LOVE YOU BOTH, I KNOW HOW NERVOUS YOU ARE BUT I PROMISE THAT BY 11.30AM YOU WILL HAVE MADE A FRIEND EACH. BE BRAVE AND GO TO CAMP!”

Crikey, did I start praying!  Praying that I would not regret my words come 11.30am.  Please let them enjoy it as I would really be the “Worst Mum Ever!” (as I often get told),  if they had not made any friends!!

11.20am and I get the text ” Mum, this camp is dun! ” Ok, now did she mean Dumb or fun, quick text back. “Really FUN, FUN, FUN. Loads of smiley faces followed.”

By 2pm I had a phonecall one of those ones where each of them is talking over the other, trying to fit in all that they had seen and done. “I made 3 friends! I made 12!  It’s cool we are doing this and that for the next few days. Gran made us lunches and she gave us chocolate bars, you never do that !!

There it was another step in parenting passed, letting go and encouraging them to take huge steps on their own and this time it has worked. Thanks  Gran!

As for me I miss them like crazy, if they only knew, I want to jump in car and bring them back, the house is far too quiet, their bedrooms are all tidy and  the shopping was done in record time. Although the treats in the shopping couldn’t be blamed on them they are comfort food for the Mommy, who can’t wait for the craziness next week will bring.

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