the state of things

 

And at last, the school holiday wound its way to a conclusion

by Douglas Lindsay - 20:39 on 06 September 2008
Hot day in Warsaw. Two days until the (pathetically abbreviated) first day of school. The gargantuan school holidays are almost over. When this summer holiday started, a pint of beer cost 2’6, the Arctic ice shelf was still an ice shelf, (rather than just a shelf), Edward Heath was Prime Minister, and everyone thought that Sarah Palin must be related to Michael, rather than being a gun-wielding, Washington-bound ubermum, who always seems to hit a brick wall when naming one of her kids. Since school ended, the continents have drifted significantly further apart, the Himalayas have risen by another fifty feet, and empires have collapsed. (Well, the Georgian empire has collapsed, at any rate.)

The parent/kid divide has grown a little over the last few months. There have been highs, (such as when we were on a plane, travelling at 30,000ft, which is pretty high) and lows; the occasion when The Parent Currently Known As Mum and I were left bound and gagged by the children in the basement, while they ran an illegal trade in firearms from the front room, comes to mind.

However, at last, the endless cycle of swimming and cinema, of junk food and desperate attempts at times table revision, is almost over. Days of seven hours of freedom loom large, and even the baking sun which is turning the great central European plain into a desert as I write, cannot detract from the impending feeling of escape. Like George Harrison freed from the constraints of working with The Beatles, and Greta Garbo being able to use her voice in a movie, finally I - along with all the other parents at the school - will be able to get back to what we do best. Hanging out in each others’ kitchens, drinking vodka and bitching about our kids and their teachers. Heady days lie ahead.

School, of course, has its own annoying rhythms. While the summer holidays bring 24/7, full-on, boredom-plagued, endless days of hell, at least there are no time-crunched, stress-filled mornings, fighting desperately to be out the door by eight, where blood is spilled across the breakfast table and cries of anguish echo up and down the street; there are no screams of anger nor wailing of despair as the parent in charge announces that despite the freezing rain, ice sheet and thick fog, we’ll be riding the bikes to school; there are no lengthy post-school afternoons and early evenings, forcing a non-compliant spawn to sit at the table and do homework which they are absolutely committed to NOT DOING.

At first, however, the long hours of freedom will be worth it, worth all the anger and fighting and tears and visits to A&E. Eventually, hopefully around the last week in October, the time will come to take a break from school, and when the half-term break comes around, we’ll actually need it.

Until then, everyone has to try to accentuate the positive. I have seven hours every day to drink vodka and buy ethnic glassware with international women, while the kids..... Well, the kids get to go to school and do homework every night. Who could ask for anything more?

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