Dear half-term fathers: Kids, remember them? It's their break from school and your chance to bond, says one dutiful father. But have no illusions . . . you may not succeed

It has arrived. Bonding week. The mid-term break when dutiful parents take a week off work to learn how to entertain the kids in the daylight hours - and what an awful lot of daylight hours there are in five days.

All half terms demand lateral thinking, but none so much as the October half term. Too cold for the park or outdoor swimming. Too wet for cycling. Too warm for snow. Too early for fireworks. Too late to rearrange the office holiday dates.

Anyway, you don't want to. This is not just a week off; it is an exercise in familial psychology, an object-lesson to show that relationships can never be fully explored over hurried breakfasts, evenings when they are tired and watching telly, weekends when they are busy.

Only during a succession of long, empty weekdays can fathers and children really begin to bond. But it's only Monday morning and you're running worryingly short of ideas.

Do not despair. Walt Disney studios are assiduous students of the British school calendar and they unfailingly plan a blockbuster for half-term release. We shall meet, you and I, eyes glazed, in a queue for The Lion King, gigantic beakers of coke and popcorn in either hand. Quentin Tarantino eat your heart out. This was not the week to open an adult movie.

This is the week when you have a flavour of what access must be like in custody cases. There can be no normal, matter-of-fact discourse, no sitting around reading and chatting. Each day must contain a treat; pubescent adrenaline in continuous flow, thrusting you from movie or football match to dinosaur exhibition, from ice skating to virtual-reality arcade, fortified, when spirits sag, by energy-boosting burgers.

But the outings are the easy bit. First, you have to get through the mornings, those unscheduled hours when churchyards yawn and kids get restless.

This is where you practise the art of conversation and end up sounding like Jennifer Saunders in Absolutely Fabulous. 'How's Miss Jones?' 'She hasn't been my teacher for two years.' 'Oh, hasn't she?'

Play some games and find out they're all computerised, digital and graphic.

Either horrendously violent with kung fu fighting in dungeons, or horrendously pointless, having to jump over building sites or avoid low flying hedgehogs. RIP, Monopoly.

Men with children, but not men without women. There will be a woman there in the background to watch you foul up, remind you of that mystical paradox that while you both work, how odd it is that only she can take time off for the clinic, the parents' evening, the violin exam. So make the most of the first full week's bonding of the new season.

And you will try hard. Though tempers may fray you will turn off the mobile phone, play, chat and give them your undivided attention . . . until that devastating moment (I would say about Wednesday lunchtime) when the little ones pluck up courage and say, 'Don't take this the wrong way, but we'd rather play with our own friends, and, well, haven't you got any work to do?'

A week is a long time in family politics.

(Photograph omitted)

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookA wonderful selection of salads, starters and mains featuring venison, grouse and other game
News
people
Life and Style
President Obama, one of the more enthusiastic users of the fist bump
science
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Griffin holds forth in The Simpsons Family Guy crossover episode
tv
Life and Style
Upright, everything’s all right (to a point): remaining on one’s feet has its health benefits – though in moderation
HealthIf sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
News
Kristen Stewart and Rupert Sanders were pictured embracing in 2012
people
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    HSE Manger - Solar

    £40000 - £45000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: HSE Mana...

    Data Governance Manager (Solvency II) – Contract – Up to £450 daily rate, 6 month (may go Permanent)

    £350 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: We are currently looking...

    Powertrain Design Engineer

    competitive: Progressive Recruitment: I hope you are well. My client based in ...

    Java Developer - Banking - London - Up to £560/day

    £500 - £560 per day: Orgtel: Java Developer FX - Banking - London - Up to £560...

    Day In a Page

    A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

    A new Russian revolution

    Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
    Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

    Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

    The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
    Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

    Standing my ground

    If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

    Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

    Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
    Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

    Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

    The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
    The man who dared to go on holiday

    The man who dared to go on holiday

    New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

    Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

    For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
    The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

    The Guest List 2014

    Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
    Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

    Jokes on Hollywood

    With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
    It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

    It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

    Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
    Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

    Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

    Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
    Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

    Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

    Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
    Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

    Edinburgh Fringe 2014

    The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
    Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

    Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

    The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried