Sunday, 6 July 2014



As it is almost the end of term, tempers run high in our house. Both the kids can be found in floods of tears, laughing hysterically or kicking and punching each other for no particular reason from dusk till dawn . Although not unusual behaviours for teens and pre-teens, these days they either display all three of these behaviours at the same time or in very, very quick succession.

It is all rather tiring and sometimes downright trying. And matters are not being helped along at all by the fact that in the Netherlands this time of  year the sun doesn't set until eleven. Suggesting - around ten -  to the kids it is time for them to turn in, only seems to be causing  (more) hysterical laughter. By the time they finally are asleep it is close to midnight these days, meaning the children are hollow eyed and grumpy in the morning, effortlessly turning the breakfast table into a war zone.

The summer holidays really can not come soon enough, because what we need more than anything is  a great big dose of boredom. At least that is what always seemed to do the trick for me when I was a teenager and in need of recuperation after a busy year in school.

Hanging out with friends, pottering around, reading books and eating loads and loads of ice creams! And inevitable getting seriously bored when my friends would leave before we did, making me count the days before we finally (finally!) packed up of our tent and the zillion other bit of necessary camping gear and drove to France. Which by the way was a three day expedition in these days, with temperatures rising to a shocking thirty plus degrees inside the car and my dad smoking cigars behind the wheel.

Once at the French camp ground it always used to take me a couple of days to truly wind down. At first I missed the telly and my friends, but within a few days boredom was replaced by newly found past times like making a very precise drawing of the 'Mairie' in a little French village while my parents drank coffee, or trying, but never quite succeeding, to build a dam in the river that bordered the camp ground. Weaving lavender baskets, using a pocket knife to make spears out of sticks, or collecting and drying interesting flowers all of a sudden became wonderful ways to while away a few hours.

Needless to say those summers are amongst the happiest times of my life. And nothing would make me happier than to provide my own two children with similar summer memories. And although on the face of it that should be quite easy, I nevertheless struggle. Because, when children (and mine are no exception) are surrounded by machines that never stop sending them messaged like 'your clan needs a leader', or 'your smurfs are missing you', it is really difficult to get them in the state of absolute boredom, that gets their imagination going.

Just banning the pods and pads is too simple, because the minute I leave the house they are on them again. No, we actually have to go places without wifi. But those are harder and harder to find, as most campsites, hotels, or holiday parks boast 'Free Wifi' these days.

I think I have cracked it though. The little summer house in a really small village in France where we are going for the first week of the holdiays only has Wifi in the local library and if the chalet in a car free village high up in the Alps where we will go at the end of the summer has Wifi, I am going to ask for my money back. I am dreaming of long walks in the mountains, building sand castles (do thirteen year olds still do that???) on the beach, making flower necklaces, watching the 11yo battle the waves in a flimsy bikini, playing card games, finishing the ubiquitous holiday jigsaw and really getting away from it all.

I am sure my children will have a brilliant summer. I bet you they won't miss their computer games one bit. Not so sure how I will cope without my i-phone though.I mean do 46yo's still build sand castles?