Letter: School holidays

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The Independent Culture
Letter: School holidays

Sir: We refer to your article " School's out - and the fun begins for parents (Tuesday Review, 28 July). It implies that when schools break up for summer, a) there is no fun for parents and (b) the little darlings have to be constantly occupied from dawn to dusk, regardless of expense.

We've just had two grandsons staying with us, ages four and six years. It was with some trepidation that we agreed to have them for five days. They have a reputation of being wildly uncontrollable (my daughter's word is "manic") and easily bored. Videos were sent up which I know they have watched ad nauseam at home. These were not looked at, and the purse of pocket money supplied was not opened. Our only expense was two trips to the local swimming-pool (1.25 each for senior citizens and junior, 35p for under- fives).

How did we occupy them? We involved them in our own activities: an afternoon at the (local) Cromarty regatta, where there was plenty for them to see and do, even if only skipping pebbles on the water (free); a long walk in the rain, closely examining innumerable slugs, and mostly just chatting. They helped weed the drive and had a great time climbing in and out of a large pit we had dug to re-site the clothes prop. This they later filled while carefully retrieving all the worms in the soil and comparing sizes. Strawberries, raspberries and currants in our own garden were all picked with intense concentration and enjoyment.

They had the usual indoor activities with pens and crayons. They were allowed to "let off steam" with duvets and pillows in their rooms, and the so-called hyperactive six-year-old was sent off on several timed circuits outside the house, constantly trying to beat his own record.

They were rarely shouted at and never smacked, but had lots of cuddles and chat. Each evening they both went to bed tired and slept through till 7am. We were not obliged to change our routine, and still had time to ourselves. When they are older, we shall take them hill walking, sailing or perhaps birdwatching.

A hundred pounds a day at a leisure park? Two senior citizens certainly could not afford this luxury, and we had a sneaking suspicion that the grandchildren preferred our free, home-made entertainment.