Ah, summer holidays. Or do you say vacation?
Warm sun. Kids sleeping late. Out of school and free to meet and play with their friends. That is, if their friends are still around. It's not so often the case here in Luxembourg.
Come those last few days of school, families are already departing for two weeks, three weeks, a month. Some 'till the start of September. It might be a long trip or else a return to their homeland. And even if one or both parents come back within that time (not always a given here in the land of munificent amounts of holiday time), the kids tend to spend the bulk of their summer outside of Luxembourg.
Our family is not much different. We ship our boys off to Estonia for nearly a month in either July or August, the latter this year. It is a glorious respite, I can assure you, one I recommend to all couples. But until that time, I am stuck at home with our dynamic duo daily trying my best to come up with things to do. Anything to keep them busy once the morning chores are done. The park. The forest. The city center. Sometimes I am tempted to tell them to "go play in the street".
It's a constant battle of wits. Surely it was different way back when. When I was a kid (the kind of phrase kids hate to hear), once done with our morning chores we'd be out of my mom's hair for pretty much the rest of the day. We'd be outside and playing with the neighbors across the street. Or we'd hop the fence in our backyard and race across the crabby neighbor's lawn to meet up and play with some other friends. There was almost never a need for a phone call. Most likely, our friends would be already outside themselves. If not, we'd simply knock on the door.
Like I said, that was when I was a kid "living in America," to quote James Brown. But Luxembourg in summer is virtually kid-free... rather, foreign kids free. And that's too bad. It's understandable that children return to their homelands; nurturing their native culture, developing their mother tongue, and strengthening family ties. But it would be nice if more time was given to deepening friendships and roots here.
In that sense, it's lucky that sometimes one or two of the local kids swing by to play with our boys. If not, we find other ways to keep them busy. They take a walk in the forest. We go to the park or to Le'h Adventure Course in Bettembourg.
On inclement days we go to Les Thermes, the movies, or one of the many indoor play areas. We even give the boys daily homework. And, of course, there is some TV and/or computers.
Nevertheless, the shortage of other children around makes the summer different than the kind I remember. The boys seem to be too often in my hair, regardless of how little I have.
By Dan Franch