School’s out: A lie-in, a lie.
The last few weeks have dragged on languorously. Temperatures on migration from the tropics have made a brief stop in the UK. Sweltering hot days and muggy humid nights. Our cries for respite from an unending winter have been heard. But we are unsure whether to grumble or be grateful. Too much of a good thing can be just as bad as none of it.
Holiday. A welcome break. No school runs. No early mornings. No more after-school activities. Days out and trips away. Expectations of fun and laughter.
Day 1. Hopes for a lie-in dashed by whispered questions, are we going out today?, can I play your Kindle Fire?, when are you coming downstairs, Mama? Hopes for a day out at the splash park dashed by overcast skies. The sun peeps through heavy clouds, shy, reticent and non-committal.
Yet the boundless resilience of childhood will not be put off. That unquenchable thirst for adventure. The buoyancy of childlike imagination kicks in. A living room is turned into a movie theatre, complete with drawn blinds, sound effects and popcorn. A back garden becomes an enchanted forest and they, dragon-slaying knights. Shrieks of merriment rent the air.
Visiting friends provide further distraction. Four is better than two. Teams of one double, so do the squabbles. Relieved not to be the focus of all that restless energy, I arbitrate, doling out equity in childlike portions, soothing frayed nerves and restoring order.
Soon, this excess energy will be spent. Loud protests and much foot-dragging will accompany bath and bedtime. But before the happily ever after is read out, eyelids will droop and breaths will slow, sleep claiming their tired bodies and minds.
Reminders of their waking hours will populate not just my memories. Sticky sweet wrappers, discarded toys, bats, balls, swords, balls scattered all over the erstwhile plain carpet, now patterned with muddied footprints, their own equivalent of etchings on prison walls declaring ‘so-and-so was here’.
Day 1 of 40.
Night will renew hopes and expectations. And maybe, I just might get that lie-in.