The joys (and tri­als) of school hol­i­days

Pretoria News Weekend - - OPINION - Ntando Makhubu

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.

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