School hols are like parenthood
This is the week millions of us parents have been waiting for since the fourth week of July '“ it is, of course, back to school week.
As much as we love our children, six weeks is a long time to keep them occupied. If not planned properly, school holidays can be as long drawn-out as a Brexit negotiation summit meeting.
The easiest thing in the world would be to plug our offspring into a device and let them squander the best years of their life on short-lived cyber bliss. Wasting precious time is something at which much of mankind excels and lengthy school holidays are a perfect example of this. While I do have sympathy for youngsters today – supermarkets trumpet their back to school ranges before the kids break up for the summer – they haven’t a clue how to waste time in style. Perhaps it is because we live in an On Demand society, where most people have a world of entertainment at their fingertips, but past generations were champions of being bored during the holidays.
Although my own summer holidays consisted of playing football, lengthy stays at the homes of my favourite relatives and the obligatory trip away with the family, boredom was the consistent theme. Summer holidays only began to improve upon the discovery of cigarettes, alcohol and members of the opposite sex.
How wrong we were. We now know that those six school-free weeks were the best days of our lives, which is why it always puzzles me that us grown ups profess to dislike spending prolonged periods of time with our little people.
Is it because we don’t know how to properly engage with our children?
This is nothing new. Rewind 30 years and my own mother would be doing cartwheels at the prospect of the new school year and I don’t blame her.
But what I have also since learned is that, although being stuck indoors with fed-up youngsters while it rains can be wearisome, you do miss them when they are back in the classroom.
School holidays are actually a metaphor for parenthood: it is a slog while it lasts but, once it ends, we regret we didn’t make more of it.
Roll on next July.