February half term is never easy, the weather’s usually rubbish and there’s nothing much to do.
However, when you also have a 12-year-old who wants to do nothing other than game, and a 10-year-old whose idea of helping around the house is to get dressed, you have a surefire recipe for familial disaster.
So far, this has been the story of the week. My wife – who has been attempting to shepherd our feral offspring while I work – has had to resort to bribery to force my son off Fortnite and my daughter away from her phone.
Like enticing mice into traps, sweet treats have been used to conclude the half hour of arguments and get them out of the house for occasional walks.
From the children’s perspective, the sheer nerve of their parents to force physical activity upon them during a school holiday is tantamount to torture.
“How dare they? It’ll be awful, we’ll hate every second, it’ll go on forever, it’ll be soooo boring. We absolutely won’t go. It’s basically child abuse. No, no, no.”
A short while later, having wolfed down a KitKat, they’re happily running along the path, hitting each other with sticks and having the time of their lives.
This is what makes parenting tweens so hard. They are developing minds of their own, screaming out for independence and arguing the toss with you over everything. But give them a packet of Smarties and they’ll climb Snowdon.
For the latter half of the week I am off work and, whereas historically I have seen time away from the office as a break, I am currently bracing myself for five days of fighting.
I can guarantee now that the plethora of forthcoming arguments will cover topics as broad as; incomplete homework, screen time, unbrushed teeth, bedtime, inappropriate language, screen time, pocket money, screen time, dirty clothes, what’s on TV, missing charger cables and screen time.
All I can hope is that, in-between hiding the PlayStation controllers and walking in a separate direction to my children on our next family walk, there is at least one or two moments of calm and, if the Gods are smiling, a comedy incident that we’ll talk about for years to come.
Despite the fact that they drive me utterly mad, our kids do at least share the same sense of humour as my wife and I. We will, at some point over the next few days, laugh at an unexpected fart, a neighbour who looks a bit like Jeremy Irons, something on the TV or whatever memory from 10 years ago that Google Photos chooses to share with us.
And that’s all I can ask for, a single memorable moment of magic amidst the madness of half term.