Sunday, 29 July 2012

The Five Joys of the Summer Holidays

I love the prospect of the long school holidays. Hot days idling with the children in National Trust gardens. Family gatherings round a barbecue. Boden dresses. Church fetes. The merciful hibernation of my alarm clock.

I dread the reality of the long school holidays. Hot hours idling with the children on the M25. Petulant offspring picking black bits of the char-grilled chicken. The last-minute dash for children's summer wear in packed shopping malls. The dawn chorus of guests staggering home from our neighbour's latest 'get-together'. The constant, interminable bickering.

Katetakes5's latest Listography invites us to list the five things we most relish about the summer break, which is timely since I'm just unpacking from a miraculously hot week on a Cornish beach.

Now that I've stowed my squabbling pair in front of Grease and poured myself a Peroni in the spare room, I feel equal to considering these hidden joys. Five is quite a feat, but here, after much mental cudgelling, are five reasons to rejoice when school breaks up:

1. You get to know your kids better. I mean for days after a holiday, sand trickles forth from cavities you never knew existed in the human body into parts of the house you never noticed before. You further intimacy on a mental level too, of course. Following a lengthy debate about which light switch you'd rather be in the vicarage if you were a light switch and which Spice Girl you'd rather be if you were a Spice Girl, you feel newly in touch with the infant mind.


2. The daily routine takes on the thrills and suspense of a fairground ride, only for free, as you spin dizzily between housework and child care, whilst watching your work deadlines in stomach-churning free fall.


3. Money ceases to be real. In term time I calculate the price per sheet before committing to a loo roll brand. In the holidays I'll willingly surrender whole wads for RNLI teddies and posh ice cream cones.


4. A homework sabbatical.  I'd thought, when I'd flung my A-Level books into a neighbour's skip, that I was done with prep for ever. Now, not only do I have to muster the energy to endure the stumbling nightly tracts from the Oxford Reading Tree and to invigilate maths when I could be pruning my tea roses, I have to dredge my brain for times tables and rudimentary fractions so that I can fake academic dignity before my 9-year-old.


5. Above all I love the alchemy of summer holidays that can turn one from this: 



to this:




What, for you, are the most lovable aspects of the long school holidays?

19 comments:

  1. I just can't answer your final question, as ten weeks at home with my squabblesome pair is about nine too many. But I did laugh, hollowly, at your list (as I have a feature due tomorrow, and have not even found the case studies yet, never mind written it...)

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    1. I'll be a case study. So long as its wholesome. If you'll help me with my two property galleries...

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    2. If the vicar planned your wedding for you, that is a deal!

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  2. I'm with you on the beach thing - i always say that for days afterwards you find sand inplaces you didn['t even know you had places. And what is that alchomy that turns money into nothing during the holidays. I didn't do this one but if I had it'd be along the same lines as yours. We only have 3 weeks this year (end of private nursery school) and I'm dreading it.

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    1. It's all good fun really (she says now they're safely in bed!)

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  3. Fabulous transformation! And you have the best luck picking our only hot week to go on holiday to Cornwall!

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  4. Ditto to all of the above. I've just come back from a week in Cornwall too - after unpacking I think I've brought back most of the beach. (Snazzy wetsuit by the way - I braved the sea minus the wetsuit and am sure the lifeguards hooted a warning to all in the water before I entered, screaming.)

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    1. Can imagine it with hilarious clarity. Had to hire the wetsuit to hold my collapsing cozzie together!

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  5. I love your list. Very humerously written! Made me giggle and feel deep sympathy at the same time x

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  6. Anoop Singh-Best29 July 2012 at 20:42

    It's all so true. My favourite has to be pyjama days I'm afraid. You don't want to get dressed, you don't get dressed. You want to watch DVDs all day in bed, you watch DVDs in bed all day. But like anything, too much of a good thing..... So we keep them for special, for those days when it really is better than Christmas to sit in PJs eating popcorn without a care in the world :-)

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    1. Have to admit I can't bear being in my PJs after 8am. And dislike watching TV in day times. But you make it sound almost tempting...

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  7. Ha ha - excellent - you do rock the surf chick thing!

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  8. Hmm I'm not sure your first four are written with the excited zeal I was looking for but I have to say number 5 made up for them. I think you should consider wearing the wet suit as your outfit de jour. Even when the school run starts off again.

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    1. Nah, can't get my thermal vests underneath it. A pair of Hunters are the only black rubber a girl needs at the school gate.

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