Monday, June 1, 2009

School Holidays

The etymology of the word 'holiday' is intriguing, to say the least. It derives from the term 'holy day', of course -- any of the umpteen zillion days selected by the Most Catholic Church to commemorate the appallingly hideous deaths of a roster of saints expanding so rapidly that several popes have died in the effort to bring the thing under some semblance of control, and at least one new branch of mathematics has been conceived purely to estimate the length of time it will take before pretty much everyone in the world has been martyred.

The point of all these holy days was, in theory, rest. That and giving lots of money to the Church, naturally. If you were a medieval peasant, and it happened to be St Tenesmus' Day (St Tenesmus of the Molten Lead Enema, patron saint of lower-bowel dysfunction, whose name is still remembered in medical jargon through the term 'Tenesmus', meaning 'painful and ineffective straining of bowels') you could legitimately tell your feudal overlord to get fucked, because your immortal soul required you to sit around on your arse all day, praying that someone else would come along to do the fieldwork. Or something.

Flash forward a couple hundred years. Or so. And now we come to the concept of 'school holidays'.

Where's the idea of 'rest' now? For us medieval peons, things have gone way the fuck downhill. Dad's don't 'rest' during school holidays. We scheme. We manipulate. We control. We cook, clean, and most of all, we entertain. At length. Regardless of health, sanity, fiscal position, or any other concern, when the dreaded School Holidays come, we Must Be Dad no matter what the cost.

I can hear them outside my study right now. The boys are trying to capture their pet rats, who use their ridiculously large cage to steer clear of the brutes as far as possible. And the Mau-Mau has found the little button accordion Natalie bought for Christmas a couple years back... she's serenading the rat-catching effort at the top of her lungs. What are they planning to do with their now-very-nervous rats once captured? Does it have anything to do with the new lot of cardboard-box "army tanks" being built? Where do the underpants they put on the cat fit into this equation? (And in the name of God, why did the cat sit still for that?)

Most importantly: how can I get out of here without them noticing?