Don’t Be That Parent.

Ok so Christmas is coming and  everybody’s making plans, presents to be bought, social events to be organised, party outfits to find (as well as extra cash) there are trees to decorate, all the food to buy, cards to write and let’s not forget that the true message of Christmas is, peace to all mankind.

Unless of course you’re a single parent trying to negotiate with your ex as to who’s having the kids and when.

This never gets any easier until the kids have grown up to be adults (yes it does happen) but this is the perfect time for some parents, and I’m going to say women here as they are usually, not always I know, the single parent trying their damn best to bring their children up as normal human beings, to use the kids as weapons and I can totally understand. If your ex hasn’t paid any money towards the upkeep of their own kids, only bothered once in a blue moon to actually turn up on a Saturday morning to take them to McDonald’s, never shown an interest in how their own children are doing in school, maybe caused a bit of trouble when any guy has shown an interest in you, maybe even started a couple of malicious rumours about you, introduced them to every single female that he’s been sleeping with then Christmas can seem the perfect opportunity for payback. It is very very tempting to tell these idiots that no, they won’t be spending any time with their own children over the festive period as they’ve been useless fathers all year and anyway you and the kids are going to be far too busy so there just won’t be any time.

Very tempting.

It’s probably safe to say that a lot of single parents have wanted to do this at some time, as it seems so unfair that you’ve had to put in all the hard work all year, so why should the absent parent get all the good bits? Your ex rocks up with a couple of tacky cheap presents and a huge bar of chocolate and the kids think it’s great and you’re having sleepless nights wondering how you’re going to pay the gas bill. Then your blood pressure’s going through the roof as he’s telling you he can’t take the kids on holiday as promised next summer as he’s already booked for Ibiza with his latest girlfriend so it looks like it’s going to be you and the kids in your grandma’s caravan in Fleetwood in the 6 week holidays. There’s no justice is there?

Just take a step back and look at the big picture.

By denying access you will unwittingly make your ex into a super hero. You will be seen as the bad guy as you’re the one stopping them having a relationship even though you might think you have good reasons. Children don’t usually know the ins and outs of why/how the relationship between their parents broke down they just need to know that it wasn’t their fault and that they are still  loved by both parents. Denying time spent with their father means that they won’t get to see the traits that you know (and hate) the less they see of him means they can put him on a pedestal instead of seeing that actually, he has feet of clay. Don’t threaten to stop him seeing the kids when he lets them down yet again and doesn’t turn up on Saturday morning (and you’re dealing with the fallout) because eventually the kids will see that he’s unreliable. Don’t threaten to stop the kids from going on holiday with him, or shopping, or Nando’s or any time he chooses to spend with his kids because you’re trying to protect them from being let down again, eventually they’ll work it out for themselves. They’ll make their own minds up but let’s not forget that you didn’t make this little person all by yourself, it did take two. As much as you hate it there is no way around it and there’s something you need to realise. The bigger picture means that there will be graduations, weddings and christenings where children will want both parents to be present, and even if you are not exactly best friends, hopefully you can be civil to each other if only for a day.

It’s hard being a single parent. It’s hard being both good cop, bad cop and not being able to say “Wait until your father gets home!” It’s hard knowing you have little people totally dependent on you for everything. It’s hard trying to be strong in front of them when you’re having a particularly bad week.  It’s hard trying to teach them a moral compass as to what’s right and wrong and it’s hard when you have no support from the person you should be having support from.

In return hopefully you will have the best friendship with your kids when they become adults, and if you’ve done your job right they will love you unconditionally  and when someone asks you “Would you change anything?”  you can truthfully answer “No”.   So in a way you’re in a good position believe it or not, which means as it’s Christmas and really you want to do the right thing I say this.

You can afford to throw your ex some crumbs from your table.

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What I Did On My Holidays

Not a lot, but that was supposed to be the whole point, so it did mean that I could indulge in one of my favourite things to do, which is people watching. In a large, busy hotel I had plenty to watch and sad to say, a few of the usual stereotypes were in evidence as they are in any all inclusive hotel.

You’re always going to get the mums and dads who, having been high-fived by one of the animation team, now think that they’re best mates and won’t leave Jose/Giuseppe/Lucy alone, even pushing their own kids out of the way to get a photo taken with their new bestie. Alternatively you always get that one kid who goes and follows the team everywhere, signing up for everything and not making friends with any of the other kids as they’re too busy stalking.

I watched parents with questionable parenting skills in the restaurant, allowing a child to watch a dvd on a portable player, or playing computer games, while everyone on the table is having dinner, and watched as mum or dad even fed the child instead of making the 4/5/6 year old feed themselves. God forbid there’s any interaction and learning  table manners.

I watched as a large group of Germans dragged a number of sunbeds and every available parasol to make their own version of Ocean Beach, playing loud music on their own sound system which was competing with the thousand decibels being played out by the hotel sound system, while parading around with a bottle of vodka bought in the local supermarket. In an all inclusive hotel.

I watched as a young dad gave his two year old son a glass full of orange juice, and as he left him for a moment to get his own drink, the little boy dropped the glass spilling the drink everywhere. I watched as a quick thinking cleaner working nearby, reached out and grabbed the boy by the hood of his beach towel stopping him from slipping and falling on the glass. And I watched as the dad turned around just at that moment and glared at the cleaner, instead of thanking her for saving his son from having a nasty accident.

I watched too many young girls and guys thinking they were super hot, probably thinking they should be on Love Island, parading around, but with the personality of a cobweb.

I watched as impatient people waited for the chains to be unlocked on the sunbeds in the morning. which would only happen when the cleaners had finished sweeping and cleaning around the pool so it was a nicer environment to sunbathe in. One morning, someone figured out how to get the sunbeds off with the chains still on and I’m ashamed to say it was a British person who then proceeded to take the sunbeds off while the cleaners begged him to wait for five minutes while they finished their job.

I’ve watched while a man has wanted me and my daughter to leave a table outside as he insisted he have it as he had a baby in a pram even though he was with a party of six or seven of them and our table could only seat four (at a push).

But I didn’t see everything.

On the last morning of the holiday, I went and reserved our sunbeds by the pool as we weren’t getting picked up until about 6 o’clock. We probably spent more time than we should having breakfast and packing our stuff ready to go home, so when we finally made it to the sunbeds our towels were gone and two people were using the beds. On a mission to find the towels I saw a manager walking around and asked her where they were likely to be. She sent me to the bar by the pool, who subsequently sent me to reception, and they sent me to the lifeguard who didn’t understand a word I said. So I didn’t see who swiped the towels, and I never got them back, so needless to say they’re probably getting rented out by the hotel to people who’ve had the same thing happen to them.

What can I say, I might  have been distracted by one of the fitties parading around in his trunks at the time it happened.

Maybe.

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