a week before the schools break up for the last break before Christmas.
I know some grandparents who are not looking forward to this. They will have their grandchildren full time while "Mum and Dad" are at work.
One of our neighbours is a "stay-at-home Mum" and she isn't looking forward to the break either.
"I don't know how I'll keep them entertained," she told me. I know she was looking for ideas - preferably ideas that don't cost anything.
I don't remember school holidays being like that. We didn't get entertained. We were expected to entertain ourselves - and entertain ourselves out of the house at that. Even before we went to school we were expected to do that. It had to be pouring with rain before we were allowed to "play inside".
Of course, for most of the time, we lived in the country. Children on farms were expected to help. Those of us who lived in the small rural communities were also expected to help. My brother could drive a tractor from a very early age. I can remember being given a broom that seemed much bigger than me and being told to sweep the floor of the shearing shed. I collected eggs (and was terrified I would drop them) and fed calves (and wondered if they would bite me) and did all manner of other things. You just did those things - and then you went off to do what you wanted to do. I did not learn to milk or round up the sheep but I did get satisfactorily and happily grubby. In most places it was assumed I could do whatever was asked of me. I wonder about it now but, at the time, it was a source of huge satisfaction to feel as if I was being useful.
We wandered in the bush. The snakes avoided us - or so it seemed. We knew they were there and to "never pick up a smooth stick". Out there we built "wurlies" and "cubbies" (small shelters).
The communities were small enough that everyone knew everyone. If we really, really, really needed an adult to help we always knew where to find one - such as the day that one of the boys fell to the ground after a tree branch broke under his weight. He knocked himself out and we thought he was dead but, by the time someone had run for an adult, he was sitting up and saying "my head hurts". He was taken home for the rest of the day. Now he would probably be rushed off in an ambulance. All I can remember is his father saying to the Senior Cat, "I suppose if it hurts there's something there to be hurt." We avoided tree climbing - for a couple of days.
There are only two local boys - brothers - I know of who have climbed a tree. None of them has built a cubbie. Most of them have only ridden bikes up and down their driveways and perhaps on the footpath outside their home. They don't know how to use public transport...and even I would be put on the bus or train in the care of the conductor (we had them then) to get off at a certain point and then go to one or the other of my respective grandparents. My maternal grandparents meant walking down the platform and about fifty metres along the path and climbing through the back fence. My paternal grandparents meant walking back past the little shop and in the gate. I suppose if I had not arrived questions would have been asked but it was just assumed I would arrive. Now, a child alone like that would be the subject of investigation by social services.
Perhaps we were lucky, luckier than we realised. We had to entertain ourselves and we knew how to get there.