Dear Mrs Griffiths,
I regret to inform you that I have been unsuccessful in fulfilling some/any of your Summer holiday homework tasks, due to my misjudging the speed at which these six weeks have now whizzed past. Not quite the life sentence I had anticipated..
I am now questioning myself as a parent, after bumping into parents in the park who have indeed been singing times tables to their children all summer, between lovely jaunts abroad. In fact, on signing a birthday card, it seems that my daughter has actually forgotten how to spell her own name.
On reflection, I am happy to tell you that even though we were not fortunate enough to go abroad this year, the inner city remains a wonderful and exciting play ground in which to learn.
Whilst scooting the streets my eldest son, who has fantastic observational skills, asked me, 'What are all those little peach things everywhere Mummy?'. I told him they were cigarettes. This led to a discussion on the dangers of smoking, how to smoke, why people smoke, where they smoke, electronic cigarettes, and that just because you blow the smoke out, does not make it okay.
Cigarette butts were spotted outside a pub, and counted in groups of three's and four's (which I believe were the times tables to be learnt - so perhaps I am a perfect parent after all?). We took our learning one step further by calling out loudly when seeing a person smoking. Where necessary, shouting in their face the stupidity of their action.
There was also valuable learning to be done at other people's houses. I was not knowledgeable of this particular curriculum, being that I was not familiar with GTA. I do now know that this stands for Grand Theft Auto. Although I did not approve of my son playing this at his friends house, it did allow a healthy conversation on why it is wrong to steal cars and shoot policemen. My son then had a really fun journey in the back of his friend's mum's car, with out a booster seat, 'bouncing around all over the place', and got to eat what ever he wanted in McDonald's, returning home thoroughly high.
We've also touched on topics I wasn't quite anticipating so soon, but the city has a habit of laying it all out there for one to see. It seems that some body painted the word SEX in red capital letters, on a square of pavement we pass often. 'What is SEX?' asked my daughter, who's reading is really coming along nicely. I elaborated that it is 'a risky recreational past time'. 'And they go there to do it?' asked my son.' I can't be sure, but I hope not.' I replied.
As you know my younger son will be starting Reception this week. He is such a bright boy, though not timid. I had very good intentions of teaching him to read this summer but, damn baby, and you will know the waiting list for swimming lessons round here is endless. He has however learned how to Samba at the community centre street dance class. Admittedly, the other thing he has learned is how to give 'the finger', which he learned from his elder brother and sister, who learned off their friend, who learned off his older cousin. Hold your hand out, now fold down all the fingers except the middle one, and there you have it. I sincerely hope he doesn't do this in Reception class. Unless of course some one is very horrid to him indeed... You must get him to Samba with you - Such fun!
We did have a lovely time when we went to the cinema to see 'Swallows and Amazons'. I couldn't believe the Mother sent her children off in a sail boat, unaccompanied with a knife and matches, but my children would now love to start a fire. Of course, in the city this would be considered arson I explained to them. If you ask me, country life looks a little scary. Give me my nice safe city where the police arrive in two minutes flat every time.
I hope you can see from this letter what an adventure the children have had this Summer. Though we did not complete the homework, I assure you that they have been learning about life and human nature - in ways only the city can teach, and return to you this September courageously curious, open minded, and ready for anything.
Best of luck this year.
Anne is a Mother of Four who blogs at Mumming-Up