After my 11-year-old daughter wrote ‘Manchester is the capital of Scotland’, I decided a little geography lesson was in order. Just the two of us, for full-on north of the border, half-term fun. I thought she might learn something – not least that the capital of Scotland begins with ‘E’, not ‘M’. But here’s what I learnt:
No matter how much we pay, how hard we try, we can’t make children enjoy themselves. This was epitomised by the woman I saw at the zoo dragging three wailing children away from the playground, bellowing: ‘I’ve paid all this bleeding money to see the animals, not to play on a fecking swing.’ Or in my case, it was ‘OK, the pandas aren’t as giant as we thought they’d be, but they’re still quite interesting, aren’t they? What? You don’t want to see it doing a sloppy poo on the floor. Well, look away then.’
- I’m never going back to a zoo again. The sight of those wallabies in the rain, the monkeys huddled in a heap and the lion with its ‘Why me? Why did they take me? I should be chasing gazelles’ face have officially finished me off. I know there’s a conservation element but I don’t want to witness koalas clinging to spindly eucalyptus in drizzly Scotland when they are supposed to be sleeping in New South Wales sunshine.
- I pretend not to be a pushy mother, then find myself pointing out dreary facts in an excited voice at museums in the hope that the daughter might retain something. She, of course, is more interested in when we can stop for a flapjack. I feel irrationally irritated that she doesn’t care how a dragonfly sees the world, who invented the telephone and how a lighthouse works. But if I look deep into my soul, I’m not sure I give much of a hoot either.
- Bus tours, galleries and old men playing the bagpipes are no competition for Primark, H&M and Candy Crush on the iPad.
- The boys will revert to type for as long as I’m away. Their cooking went something like this: Chinese takeaway, Indian takeaway, steak house.
- Only I can buy milk and bread.
- My role in life is not to be welcomed home by flowers, but by an ‘Oh my god, I’ve just remembered I’ve got an RS exam tomorrow’ scream.
- For all those five star hotels that think they can charge £6 for a bottle of water and look slightly irritated when I dare to interrupt their chat at reception, I have two words for you. No, not those two. PREMIER INN. Brilliant.