SCHOOLS are out and parents are looking forward to planning six weeks of meaningful childhood entertainments and wondering if paternity qualifies them for Valium.
Oh good, they will say, it’s raining again and of course Sandra and Bobby can come round, and Jake and Jennifer, too.
We’ll make cakes and milk shakes and who cares if the kitchen becomes a mess? We’ll simply go into the lounge and finger-paint on the new emulsion. Yes, on the furniture as well, if you like, but try to avoid Granny, she’s still upset about yesterday.
She didn’t mind playing hospitals with you and having her leg put in a splint but you shouldn’t have broken it first for authenticity.
Of course, in my youth, mums and dads didn’t have the problem of what to do with the kids. Youngsters were given a jam sandwich, a bottle of liquorice water and told to go and play until a week on Wednesday. Usually by the railway line.
We explored the countryside, ate rhubarb straight from the field, made dens and, occasionally, played innocent games of doctors and nurses. Well, didn’t everybody?
The threat from child molesters wasn’t very apparent and I am still not sure whether that is because it wasn’t reported in huge headlines, like it is today, or whether deviants latently suppressed their urges because there was no publicity to make them realise it was an option.
Summer holidays are great from a child’s point of view.
All those weeks stretching into the future with no school and nothing to do but mope around, fall off bikes and out of trees and have rows with best friends.
But for parents they can be a tad stressful, especially as the recession means fewer will be able to afford the usual diversion of a holiday abroad, especially as prices go up by a zillion per cent as soon as schools break up.
The alternative is a visit to the seaside, whose image of fish and chips, candy floss, laughing clowns and over large ladies who have lost their Little Willy has been immortalised on Bamforth’s postcards. Sadly, I think those cards were all drawn on the same sunny day in 1936. Summer was July 29, that year, and I half suspect we’ve already had this year’s summer last month.
Because that’s the problem with holidays at home – the weather.
Still, parents should not be perturbed at the forecast of rain and frustrated offspring.
They should view it as quality time together, a period of familial bonding, and, when the kids finally go back to school, they can always give the lounge a fresh coat of emulsion.