Many things are emerging from this virus and the new ‘normal’ - including a newly found appreciation of schools and the bizarre reality that some parents choose to home school. Who would do such a thing? Presumably they like to argue?
Because during this lockdown, so unhelpfully coinciding with nice weather, good luck expecting a teenager to put in a full shift. In the classroom, they have peer pressure to contend with. A teacher who hopefully they respect and they might even be a little fearful of. And they do not have broadband, headphones, a dog and a garden.
We are always amused by some of the depictions of the Holland family. That we are such an inspiration. A model family who are always so on-side and supportive of one another. An argument free home, when in reality, nothing could be further from the truth.
I am sorry to prick anyone’s delusions but I am afraid that the Holland family is just like yours. Moments of levity, fun and sheer joy, interspersed with tantrums, arguments, sulks and rancour.
‘Who's taken the f….. charger? I specifically left a charger in this socket…’
‘Damn it, this shirt has been washed and ironed and it’s been here for days. You’re so lazy, you can’t even be arsed…’
You get the picture and I’m sure you can add in your own generic familial battles.
And such tensions are heightened, exacerbated and crucially, laid-bare by this lock-down. People trapped in houses together, each pulling this way and that. In my particular house, three adults and a child who doesn’t want to do very much at all.
This might be more applicable to boys. Girls are more studious, right? I only have boys and all with a heavy bent for the arts, so creating the perfect CV has perhaps felt less compelling.
My thing has always been that my boys must do their best. Leave nothing behind and have nothing to reproach yourself for - is my mantra.
Which can be interpreted by some as a convenient cop-out and a shedding of responsibility by a parent with better things to do. Unfortunately for me and for my boys, this is precisely how Nikki sees it. Nikki is much more hands on as a parent than me. Much more committed and altogether in the game. And I should be grateful because were it not for Nikki, I would not have been able to write a book called Eclipsed. My sister is the same. She is learning Spanish herself in order to help her youngest through his exam – and once Nikki heard of such madness and mania, she and Patrick joined in also.
Maybe it’s a female thing?
Most primary school teachers are female and I think the majority of secondary school teachers are also.
It’s not that I can’t be bothered. More that I want to avoid the arguments. I’m much happier with the quiet life. Enjoying funny videos together and generally trying to get through the day, which is more easily done when they are at school and much less easily achieved now.
One of the big arguments in education is class sizes. The consensus being that less kids, the better. And yet, in our home school, we have only one pupil. Damn it, we have more teachers than pupils and as I write, on day four, it is not the success you might imagine.
The main problem being that the pupil is unwilling…
More than unwilling. He is recalcitrant, intractable, obstreperous and indolent. All words he wouldn’t understand and which I am relaxed about because I wouldn’t have known such words when I was his age. I failed English at school – which viewers of my Ted talk will know. I hated English at school and now I love words and using them. Because my education really started well in to my adulthood and continues on to this day.
And so I am relaxed about Paddy’s reluctance. Or sanguine to use a more flowery word.
And being relaxed means that we might get through this lock-down unscathed. There are many jokes on-line about spouses killing each other over the Corona virus. That divorce rates will spike.
But unfortunately, my wife and the Managing Director/CEO of The Holland Family sees things very differently; choosing a strategy that is much more combative. Indeed, a war path is how I would describe it.
And so tensions are running high Chez Holland, compounded by Sam and I both having symptoms. Just coughs and aches at this stage and hopefully nothing more.
Crushed eggs shells are everywhere. Paddy is the key to familial harmony but it seems that he prefers to fight fire with fire - while Sam and I self-isolate elsewhere in the house (with broadband).
Paddy, though, is looking wounded. How can school being suspended not be a great thing? The best time of his childhood.
Last night, over dinner, Paddy announced that he now sees his teachers in a different light.
‘Because, mum, you're so different to any of them.'
‘Oh, how so?’ Nikki asked, hoping for a compliment.
‘You’re like the Ginger Hulk.’
Nikki is immediately aggrieved. Sam and I put our heads down.
‘Dom, did you hear what he just called me?’
Of course I did. I am sitting right here. Sam and I both look at mum. And then we shrug.
It’s a good name and he makes a good point.
At which Nikki bursts out laughing and why I guess we will make it as a family. Because we do laugh a lot and what is it they say about laughter?
Facebook live this Sunday 19.00 GMT - to chat about my novel, Only in America (available free on Amazon) - all welcome along with questions or without.
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