Once upon a time I loved the holidays it was a time to slow down to be together to have family time. There were no lunch boxes to be made, no early mornings and no after school clubs. Nowadays it's different, I don't exactly dread them, I just don't feel quite the same way. No longer are they a time to slow down and unless the days are organised, family time can be disastrous.
When everything runs smoothly, life here is fantastic, the house is full of noisy laughter, imaginative games are played, computer games are shared and books are read. Outdoors they hunt bugs, build dens or practice acrobatics on the trampoline.
Unfortunately, more often than not the fun and games morph into sibling battles, the sharing becomes vying for attention, and the imaginitive games become bickering, slanging matches. All normal behaviour except that we have a traumatised child in our midst. A traumatised child who when ignored will do what ever it takes to reclaim his place as the centre of attention. This is usually violence of some sort, biting, hair pulling or throwing something.
So not only are we dealing with a baby of the family whose position has been usurped by a new and younger sibling but that new sibling comes with his own set issues. This means that when child 3 goes into melt down because she doesn't get her own way or because she thinks that our attention is taken by her younger brother there is a massive knock on effect with child 4. He just can't cope with temper tantrums, the shouting and screaming, the slamming of doors. He then spirals out of control, he hits out at those nearby, he shouts and screams and then attaches himself to one of us just in case we take him or leave him somewhere.
It is actually quite exhausting, I find that sometimes I have to take life an hour at a time, trying to plan ahead ready with a distraction to prevent the next battle breaking out.
Our Easter break peaks when we celebrate my Aunts 80th birthday, our tribe congregate at my parents, that is my sister and her 3 boys, my brother and his 2 children, our cousins including 2 more children and the 6 of us. After a fortnight of screaming, destruction of property, fighting, biting and bruises caused by flying cars I was to be perfectly honest full of trepidation. 11 children ranging from the traumatised 3 year old to the 21 year old uni student with every possible age in between in 1 house. Do you know what it was a fantastic celebration, the champagne and prosecco flowed, mum had created a treasure hunt, the older kids took all but our child 4 down to the field for a game of football. Everyone had a whale of a time with a few of us making it to the local family run pizzeria that evening. A very noisy crowd of us and yet Child 4 took all the fun in his stride, maybe because he wasn't the centre of attention, maybe because he is beginning to feel that unconditional love vibe, the one that starts no matter what. Maybe because he feels like he belongs, my mum said the other week when they dropped him home he said "this is where my home is" as they drove up the road. A move forward as up until then he would ask where his home was even when curled up on the sofa in our arms.
None of this is to say we are at the end of our journey, I am sure that we will still stumble along the route but sometimes when we least expect it the sun breaks through the clouds, lifting our hearts. Showing us what life can be like.