Around the country many grandparents are bracing themselves for the final onslaught coming their way like a bad prune roaring through the lower tract; the final few weeks of school holidays.
This generation, who survived the Viet Nam War, the ‘Recession We Had to Have’ and the return of Family Feud, will be sorely tested as they face another twenty days of babysitting grandchildren; and possibly the neighbours’ kids as well.
Grandfathers may want to kick open the back door and yell, “Get outside ‘til we call you in for lunch!” like they did with their own children, but kids today have to be monitored 24/7 thanks to everyone living in a state of barely controlled panic.
Grandmothers will be tempted to drive knitting needles into their own ears to stop the barrage of questions from driving them mad, eg: “What are we doing now? Was that thing I dropped expensive? Why do you smell funny? Why are you always looking at the clock? What does purple smell like? Why are you sleeping/crying/drinking?”
Some might seek a few hours respite at the local cinemas, but will be left clutching their purses and chests in horror when they discover how much it costs to dump kids off at the movies these days (basically what Grandad paid for his first car).
And that’s before they stagger over to the snack bar for the next fiscal shock.
Those approaching the point of sheer exhaustion may be hoping for a small heart attack, or similar medical emergency, in order to get carted off to a nice, quiet, clean hospital ward for a lengthy rest.
But mostly, these unpaid babysitters will grit their teeth and dig in ’til school returns in three weeks’ time, then resume their normal, peaceful, child-free retirement routine; until Easter.