Parents? Time to play games master
Home schooling, at least, gave the children some structure to their day, but a week into the holidays, apathy and a certain sort of Mediterranean manana have taken over; if it can be done today, do it the day after tomorrow, next week or next month.
That normally does not happen until the end of the holidays. But with two out of my three children now teenagers, who like playing computer games with the curtains drawn in a darkened room on a sunny day (why?), I am half inclined to think it is a stage rather than just the crazy days in which we are living.
But while I can cope with a certain ennui about reading set books, meal times and doing their fair share of chores about the place, it is, given we are by nature a sporty family, their apathy about exercise I am finding less easy to deal with.
Lockdown has, essentially, divided the nation into two groups; those who are spending the time once devoted to commuting or travelling in a car taking extra exercise, and those, perhaps without their gyms, who are doing far less.
It seems to me that without school, where team games or break-time football gets them fit without them really knowing it, for a large part of this summer, without mates from outside the family, a generation of children are sliding into the “doing less” category. It cannot just be my own, and it is up to us to stop the rot.
That means taking on the role of games master on top of everything else, because I am finding the best way to get action out of them is to do it with them.
Want them to go on a two-hour bike ride? You have to go with them and, as it were, ride the lead horse. Want them to go for a run? Get your jogging shorts on because they all want to beat Dad. Want them to play tennis? Get your hands on the best racket first.
My son, 15 years old, 15ft tall, will get a wake-up call (literally and metaphorically) tomorrow when he plays cricket for the local village away to Didcot, the once-thriving commuter hub where the only passengers can just about flag their own trains down now.
Without having played for almost 12 months, save a few winter nets when school still existed, he has been moved two teams upwards. We will find out tomorrow if such promotion is warranted or just due to a shortage of players, although practice-wise they must all be in the same boat.
I am not sure what will be longer, his hair or his run-up, or shorter, his breath or his stay at the crease, but, either way, it will peel him away from a screen for the day.
The one constant at home has been the ponies, although I have never really counted an hour on horseback as proper exercise unless it is on a galloping racehorse. Granted, it is marginally more taxing than sitting in an armchair, but at least it gets them out in the fresh air.
At Christmas, having sworn to myself I would never have a mare on the place, I spent more on a female racing pony than I have ever spent on a car (not difficult, admittedly) to improve my daughter’s chances and, hopefully, give her a more regular hope of winning and, therefore, a leg up into the world in which she wishes to work after school.
We already had the rescue job, The Bisky Bat, who is doing well at teaching her as much as a slow horse can, and, although it means I have to ride one of them, training two ponies is easier than training one, because they can keep each other company on the gallops.
We kept the expensive new one in reserve when the ground was soft, planning a late springsummer campaign on the faster ground she likes. But, with no sign of pony racing starting again until at least September, the Ferrari, as it were, remains in the garage (the only benefit being that there is less chance of it being pranged or getting a puncture).
I am less worried about the nine-year-old. She seems to spend most of the time cartwheeling around the place in a world of her own. In many ways, I wish I could do the same.
Pitching in: If you want to get your children to exercise, it seems Dad or Mum must also take part