Updated: Jul 13
With a glorious inevitability, the moment the metaphorical bell rang, marking the end of school’s strange electronic summer term, the heavens opened, releasing more moisture in three days than we’d seen since February.
Simultaneously, after months of almost unbroken positivity from the outside thermometer, temperatures crashed.
One of the few plus sides of lockdown has been the great weather. Those lucky enough to have outdoor space have dug, mown, played, reorganised or just sat in the sun, contemplating the pandemic with a tipple.
Until, of course, holidays began.
For years before Covid, we’ve told kids to get off their devices, go outside and pursue a wholesome activity. Then along came lockdown’s home-schooling routine, suddenly demanding hours in their rooms, staring at screens.
A teenage Manna from heaven. Literally, carte blanche to slope off to their pit in the company of something electronic.
But summer holidays beckoned and all would be well in the world once released from the timetable stuck to the fridge.
Perhaps it was a tad optimistic to think time-honoured pastimes like Pooh sticks and pond-dipping would be indulged, but we were hoping the Swingball might, at last, have life breathed into it or, at the very least, some enthusiasm for a gentle stroll.
I fear the weather-Gods are in cahoots with teenage timetables, sitting up there on their clouds, checking-out term dates, pressing the rain button as soon as Zoom calls or a TEAMS class has ceased.
As if it’s not hard enough to motivate teenagers, suddenly kids have the mother of all excuses. With barely disguised incredulity, the indisputable defence of “But it’s raining,” gathered pace like a Gareth Malone ensemble.
In a bid to start as we meant to go on, a family, ‘Phase Two’ play-date at wonderful Willowgate Activity Centre was actioned.
If you haven’t already been, this is a total gem of a place, snuggled-up against the banks of the Tay, offering enough child-releasing calorie opportunities to ensure the most hyperactive bouncer gets a good night’s sleep.
A beach has beamed down since our last visit. I kid you not. Tons and tons of creamy sand, a row of brightly coloured huts completing ‘homage coastal’. The only thing missing was an ice cream van.
Being in the middle of Scotland, Perth’s handy for a lot of things but seaside attractions are well beyond the current five-mile curfew.
So, encapsulated in pliable wetsuits, tied to a SUP (stand up paddleboard) via a curly umbilical cord and having the sun (finally) put in an appearance, healthy, outdoor enjoyment was on the cards.
What could possibly go wrong?
In truth, absolutely nothing. Youthful voices skimmed across the surface as water arced through the air. Games were created. Imaginations stretched.
“Perhaps we’re going to be alright,” I thought, “Things are looking up." A chink in the recent armour. Fun times ahead. Blah, blah, blah.
But you know what’s said about parenting. A bit like being a captain of a ship, never turn your back on the sea, it can change very quickly. And aren’t these the words of someone in the know?
Teenagers, like experienced croupiers, somehow never leave short-changed. The fact that exertion had been, well, exerted, was used like a future credit token, cashed-in at moment of maximum impact, namely, the next three days.
For that period, it was all I could do to ensure food was eaten, essential breath taken. You’d be forgiven for thinking a cross-country marathon had been run: “We’re soooooo tired.”
Coupled with this state of youthful sluggishness, dire weather warnings of flash floods ensured the perfect storm for near permanent hibernation. “But, don’t fret,” we were assured, “this isn’t hibernation, mum, it’s aestivation.” Long summer sleeps designed to conserve energy. Apparently. Who knew?
I suppose we should be grateful that so much is drawn from biology classes. As ever, teens have the last laugh.
Perhaps, though, they do have a point. Everyone knows the tortoise crossed over the finishing line first – staring adversity in the face - and he certainly wasn’t in a hurry to get out of his shell in the morning.
Calm, mum, calm. Only six weeks to go.
03 July 2020