Help me, someone, I’ve got six weeks with the kids
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How the school summer holidays work
The long summer term can be a killer for parents of younger schoolchildren.
By the end of June you just can’t wait for it to stop – the deadly routine of packed lunch, off to school, trudge back home (if Chelsea tractor not available), read notes from school, continue with your child’s assignment, (which, for some reason, seems to be your assignment too).
On top of that, you send them to school in clothes that are slightly too short, with paint-spattered shirts and in shoes and plimsolls that may be a little bit snug because they have a whole six weeks of summer holiday in which time they will undoubtedly grow, so there’s no point in spending all that money now.
You feel well-prepared for the vacation. You have two weeks’ holiday booked and so has your partner and you hope to overlap one of those weeks so you can have a holiday as a family. As it’s the school hols, all destinations have doubled in price, of course, but this year, you just couldn’t face camping again. You want a comfy bed and so you have booked a cottage by the sea which is actually costing more than Kefalonia but, on the plus side, there’s no hanging about at airports.
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With only three weeks left to cover, you have booked your little treasure(s) into as many day-long and weekly events as you can manage. There’s a one-week tennis course, one week’s football training, plus a day of fossils at the museum (that’s not grandparents by the way). There’s the library’s reading challenge, model-making with Sally and Jeff and a dance workshop (wear socks if they have verrucas).
With a little help from friends and relatives the whole six weeks is sorted... as long as nothing unexpected occurs. Thus, when they come home on the last day and tell you their classmate Blaise missed school because he has chicken pox, your heart sinks... but no, it’s all right, they can’t get chicken pox again... even though Shervil’s mum says you can. You Google it. She was right but it’s very rare.
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On the first Monday morning of the vacation, you have a blissful extra 30 minutes in bed before getting up, making a packed lunch, going through the checklist for Model-making with Sally and Jeff and realising you should have been up earlier.
“I don’t want to go.”
“I’ve paid for it, you have to go.”
“Will I know anyone?”
“I’m sure you will... but it’s nice to make new friends. You’ll have a lovely time.”
Little treasure is unconvinced.
“It’ll be fun,” you add, lamely.
Later in the day, you pick up your child and a huge lump of cardboard, wet through from over-use of cow gum and totally unidentifiable.
“It’s lovely darling... what is it?”
“It was the biggest,” says your eight year old with pride.
This is no surprise to you... it had to be folded twice to get it into the boot of the car.
The thing starts to fall apart when you carry it into the house and you wish you’d taken the time to give Sally and Jeff some constructive feedback.
“I’ll pop it outside the back door to dry out.”
“Won’t it get spoiled if it rains?”
“Hopefully...” It’s all right, you didn’t say that out loud.
The week of football is a success even if your 10-year-old will never play for England... or Kessingland... or indeed the offshore fort and independent state of Sealand.
It’s akin to a holiday when your partner has a week off and you can get to work without traces of Marmite on your pullover while they look after the kids. Then it’s your turn to have a week off and you suggest going to the park, the museum, the play area, the trampoline centre, or the zoo – only to find your partner did all that last week.
Finally it’s your week by the sea as a family. Then it will only be another two weeks before they go back to school and they’ll need new shoes. When would be the best time to go and buy them?
There is no best time. From mid way through August all shoe shops are full of children trying on shoes. There is a ticketing system and you pluck no.88 from the dispenser. You look up at the electronic display to see they are currently serving number 51.
Is it worth staying? Will there be any shoes left. No and yes. It isn’t worth staying because the only shoes available in your child’s show size are horrible, he/she hates them and bursts into tears. This looks like a job for Amazon Prime.