Up and down the country mums and dads are nestled in their settees, knees up to their chin, clutching a cushion to their chest. With a vacant stare and a slight tremor they mutter to themselves about how the summer holidays are almost over. Not long now, they whisper. Not long now.
Perhaps I'm exaggerating; but there's no doubt that the summer holidays are a stressful time, and this is coming from a guy who spends most of the day in an office. At the end of term, you're full of high hopes: you're going to go to the park every day, go on trips, holidays, meals out...it's going to be a wonderful six weeks of family bliss.
And then you realise that you have to keep your child entertained all day, every day, and that children have the most ridiculously short attention spans, and that the end of the summer holidays is a mere speck on the horizon of time. This is when the stress begins, and the wine glasses come out.
I don't know how my wife does it. I spend 10 hours of the day behind a desk, and I find it exhausting enough. When I ask her what kind of day she's had, she just looks at me through tired eyes with an expression that says it all.
Our one-year-old has finally started crawling, and so every possible entrance and exit from the room she's in is barricaded using whatever means possible, otherwise you turn away for a second to do something and she's gone. Remember how easy it was when she couldn't crawl?
Our three-year-old, who has recently got his left arm back, constantly has the energy levels of someone who has just downed three double espressos and a six-pack of Red Bull. He also sings One Direction constantly, which is enough to make any parent grind their teeth down to crumbly stumps.
And finally, our six-year-old demands to be entertained. He'll stand right in front of you, his nose almost touching yours, and say something along the lines of "Entertain me", like it's our job to use his imagination for him. Plus, he's stroppy. Everyone tells you about the Terrible Twos - but no-one warns you about the Stroppy Sixes.
In his defence, he's after attention, something which perhaps we haven't been giving him much of lately; after all, babies take up a lot of time, as do toddlers with broken arms. And so, in order to get our attention, he starts being really badly behaved: tantrums, the likes of which we've never experienced before; purposefully ignoring us when we ask him to do something; generally being a git.
That's for us to rectify, and the fault lies with us; but I think it takes the six weeks of the summer holiday to make you realise just how big a part a child's school plays in their upbringing. We rely on the teachers for much of the nurturing that goes into raising a child: instilling morals and laying down discipline. After all, as my mum always used to say when I was naughty: "Would you behave like this in front of your teacher?"
I never did come up with a good response.
More:Is It Just Me?
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