'There's no point going to school for the last two weeks of term.'
So affirmed my daughter at the breakfast table this morning. It appears that what, in my day, was the fun run-down to the summer holidays after the drudge of school exams is now a bit of a drag. Without exams there has been no discernible end to the academic year and so it is about to go out with with a whimper not a bang.
'We are playing board games in Spanish.'
'Well that sounds like fun,' I say, brightly. 'Do you have enough of that kind of vocabulary?'
'No mum!' she says, with distinct undertones of exasperation. 'In Spanish. Not in Spanish.'
'Oh,' I say, weakly. 'Well that will be fun as well....'
I give up. I decide against pointing out that even if they had finished earlier, the last two weeks would have been the same. And anyway, they have Celebration Day for working hard all year to come and daughter two won the Super Tutor Group challenge and will be rewarded with an afternoon at the Lido so it's hardly doom and gloom.
Conversations like this though serve to remind me (as if any reminder were necessary) that the summer holiday is almost upon us. Six weeks of long, hot days swinging in the hammock and sleeping in the tent. The days that childhood memories are made of.
I take an extraordinarily hands off approach to the long vac. We do barely anything that requires a car or organisation. Instead, we all kick around here, occasionally venturing out to town for supplies. Kids come. Kids go. I make food and we all achieve very little. It suits us. We work hard as a family during term time and it's nice to take our collective feet off the gas.
Or at least it is for a bit. Granted the first week is normally a challenge as we all hunker down into our new lifestyles but after that, we generally have a few weeks of unadulterated mucking about. But then I start to twitch. I long for silence, or what passes for silence around here. I dream of having to be up and out before midday. I even start to look at the calendar and work out how the new term's ferrying will work out.
I love having my children at home. Of course I do. I love it when everything stops and we can eat when it suits us and not be constantly watching the clock. But I do miss a bit of structure to my days. With not much to do, I sort of slip into a malaise and before long just walking up to town becomes too much like hard work and gets put off to another day.
I think the problem is that the holiday is just too long. Four weeks would be perfect. Time for us all to relax, recharge and re-engage. After six weeks, they have forgotten what shoes are for or the meaning of the words 'Hurry up!'
This year I have rather cleverly placed our summer holiday in the last two weeks so we will only get four weeks at home. As a result, I'm not quite as daunted as I usually am. I have books to read and things to write and I have drawn up a cleaning rota. But by the time September comes, I will have had enough and will be raring to meet all the challenges of the new academic year. By October, of course, I will be mourning the death of yet another summer and crying out for a break.