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