The joys (and trials) of school holidays
THE winter school holidays are upon us, and it is time for our kids to take a break – a longish one – take their minds off their books for a while and reconnect with family.
So for many kids across the country, the closure of schools means leaving home to visit granny back home, catch up with the cousins with whom they rarely meet as a result of the migration of parents to urban centres, where the work opportunities are better and where lights are slightly brighter.
For some in the urban setting, the end of term signifies long road trips out of town, to the rurals where their parents – depending on family background, grew up and spent their youth. And for the children born and raised in the cities it holds one of two things.
It can either be a trip they look forward to. They might spend the last few weeks of term excitedly thinking ahead, of the mostly simpler life of rural or peri-urban areas, where the sounds of cars and the interruption of the quiet by blaring sirens is less.
In Pretoria it can be metro police in a high-speed chase because a complex down the road has been broken into; or an ambulance because, strange as it may sound, people in urban areas do get sicker and need urgent medical attention, right? Or is it the high crime rate, or the availability of medical services? Never mind.
The sirens are also sometimes those of bodyguards escorting politicians, and in the dead of night it is not sirens, but blue lights which flicker in the dark as black cars speed along the freeways. Funny how I – and I do not live near the freeway, can see them on the nearby N14 late at night when watching TV or reading in the dim light.
Going away for the holidays is also an escape from the horror of crime, “bigger and badder” in cities, what with cash-in-transit vehicles driving up and down everywhere, crazy criminals who waylay these with ammunition enough to bring down countries, with guns better suited for wars, and who do not care who is caught in the crossfire. What they want are the millions they know are being transported, never mind children and people going about their lives.
None of that in some areas where criminals are the naughty boys who sneak into a neighbour’s kraal or chicken coop to steal livestock to slaughter and eat. Or, in some extreme cases, break into an old woman’s house to take her pension money, hurting her by throwing her off the bed to get to the loot under her mattress. Yes, there are worse crimes nowadays, but that is the sum of them, really.
That is the one scenario urban kids can expect when they go away; a slight shattering of the peace and quiet of lowing cattle and clucking chickens, shared sleeping spaces and unrefined food. Far from the madding crowd. Yes, what a life. For other kids it is a nightmare. A nightmare because they leave their comfortable homes, massive TV screens, their PlayStation games, and the mall where they order McDonald’s and occasionally eat out.
Oh, and going to the cinema, sometimes for the movies, other times for the popcorn, slushies and darkness.
For some parents it is a well-deserved break from their kids because those people are a handful. Ask me, I know. Story of mine and the lives of other parents, this. Oh, and the homework.
But when they go away they leave a glorious quiet, mornings when waking up is about myself, nights about myself.
Well, these scenarios do not exist in my life. I have no granny for my children to go to; nor do I have peace and quiet to during school holidays. My children are with me all year round. There is no rest for the wicked, they say.