Discipline by abandonment

The summer I turned 14, my family went to Ireland for our summer holiday. My younger brother was 12 and my sister 10. We must have been a right horror to travel with. We drove my parents crazy. We mocked their fascination with the many hedges along the roads (we still sometimes do, though in a much nicer way), we fought with each other constantly, and we were bored out of our minds with the constant hiking to sights we were not interested in.

One stop on our trip was a visit to our au-pair and her parents. Her, we loved. And it just so happened that her mother was organising a summer programm for disadvantaged children. After watching us with our parents for maybe half a day, Terra, our au-pair’s mother, offered to let us stay at their house for the rest of the week and have us take part in the summer programm to give my parents a break. My parents were VERY happy to leave us and we in turn were VERY happy to spend some time with children. Eventually of course, our parents returned and we had to leave. My brother and I were truly terrible. We kept fighting on the way home like you wouldn’t believe, kicking and screaming until finally my pparents had had enough. In the middle of nowhere in Ireland my father stopped the car and told us to get out and walk. At first we didn’t believe my parents were serious (but they were) and when they drove away with my sister grinning gleefully out of the back window our pride was pricked. I can’t say that it made me think about my actions or that I regretted anything, mostly I was just angry at my parents for abandoning me in a strange country.

When my parents were waiting for us around the next bend in the road we walked past them, with our heads held high to show them – they were kind of laughing though. When we got back in the car we stopped the fighting – mostly – and the drive back was much more peaceful.


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