RPP FM Feature writer David Corduff, begins an occasional series reflecting on issues and events that effect us here on the Mornington Peninsula.
In this his first piece – he reflects on the school holidays …
Its so noticeable as one wanders the streets of any suburb during school holidays, that there are any number of ‘oldies’ tasked with the responsibility of looking after school children during each of the school holiday breaks. Why is this? Well, we are in the era of working parents, working to drag-in the necessary collateral to achieve and maintain a certain lifestyle perhaps?
You hear it regularly…”in my day women didn’t work and they took full responsibility for looking after the children during holidays”. This is not necessarily true in every case, but was a general reality years ago.
So now we have a legion of grandparents, many of whom delight in being asked to help during school breaks, irregardless as to whether they are in fact up to it?. Sometimes it is simply too much and all they desire is a quiet retirement and not what often during school holidays can be very stressful time indeed.
Not only are they asked to be careful with the children, they are requested to take initiatives to ensure the little darlings are not bored and this leads to bribery! Yes it can be such a stressful task that grandparents often resort to spoiling the children rotten, in an endeavour to placate them or to get a break from them in any way possible. This of course is done on the basis that if the kids tell their parents…then its off for next time. Cunning eh!
The least wished item on the long list of grandparents dreads during school holidays is…the weather! Oh no, its wet and the outdoor playground isn’t an option. What else is there? Maybe the cinema, or playing word games at home or going for a drive in the rain? We now have ‘play centres’ which are a creation of entrepreneurial types who have spotted a need…have they ever and they are certainly cashing-in.
This particular option for grandparents leads to another sometimes thorny issue…who pays? These play centres are not likely to offer a ‘concession’ to seniors as they rattle-up looking for an outlet for the ferals. No way! So as well as the daily challenge of looking after the kids…there is the expense factor.
Be that as it may…it serves to highlight something that goes on behind the scenes day in, day out and that is volunteering. It is often said that without the thousands of volunteers who contribute daily to add value to our lives, the country would grind to a faltering stop! Folk such as CFA, SES, sporting club committee people…the list goes on.
Grandparents are the unsung heroes who take pressure off stressed parents during school breaks. Not all children are blessed with a set or two of grandparents, but those that are should be eternally grateful for the contribution made on their behalf…voluntarily.
Its something of a paradox…having reared their children, grandparents find themselves in their twilight years back at the coalface, looking after children all over again. Please don’t ever take them for granted.