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This summer’s trip is, without question, going to be the world’s worst holiday. That is the current view from two thirds of my family, namely our four children (who are all fully blown teenagers, or just about to be). The trip in question? Ten days walking in the French Alps. Without much in the way of screen, console or shopping time, but – as I take pleasure in reminding them – with lots in the way of hearty exercise and family time. Which is how I like it. Especially with Scrabble as an optional extra.“Bare boring,” is the summary from our 17-year-old son, who is loudly and openly plotting to escape (apparently via Uber) to Geneva airport, to catch a plane that will bring him back to Heathrow in time for the Reading festival. Good luck with that one. Hisbank account shows he has £67 to his name.The others, muttering darkly, are resigned to their fate. As long as we don’t hit an unseasonably rainy fortnight, I suspect they will all enjoy it. Actually, even if it does rain, they might like it. Because they will have us totally focused on them. What children and young people really do not want on family holidays is an extension of their normal lifeNewsflash: what children like on holidays – yes, even teenagers – is attention from their parents. Proper attention. Not my usual “ha

ng on while I send this crucial text to my editor/the office/my mate” sort of attention. Or the attention that sees you giving half an eye to someone’s painstakingly created pot, essay or fairy cake while you greedily catch up on reading the New Y

orker, a personal treat that you have earmarked for yourself since lastTuesday.No, they want chats, banter, eye contact for more than a few minutes. They don’t want this all the time in their lives, but holidays are a special time.I believe that what c

hildren and young people really do not want on family holidays is an extension of their normal life. In most cases, this means existence within an institution, be it nursery, school or college. My children range in age from 12 to 19, and are all in full-time

education. This means that, for 40 weeks of the year, they are expected to turn up on time and deliver what is required of them, be it a dissertation, music exam or a list of French verbs. Every weekday. They do not want this on holiday.Hence I have long decreed a self-imposed ban on the dreaded kids’ club. My lot are too old for them now, but back in the day, I eagerly patronised them before I saw the light. B

efore I realised that sitting in a stiflingly hot, wipe-down environment, while a bevy of friendly but bored local women try their best with a timetable of arts and crafts before slamming on a dodgy VHS of The Rescuers Down Under in a moment of despair, is not what children want on holiday. Kids have enough of turning up on time, arts and crafts and Disney cartoons as it is on the home front. They do not like being palmed off on the kids’ club.Take the kids to … Dingles Fairground Heritage Cen

tre, Devon Read moreMy children never once willingly ran lau

ghing towards the windowless area with the books, the felt-tips and those giant cut-out figures of Bambi or Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, which seems to be the default decor of any holiday kids’ club. They were always “encouraged” (ordered) to go there by their well-intentioned mother (me). They hated it. They were embarrassed by the enforced friendships they had to make, the

y we

re unimpressed by the corporate songs (Club Mark Warne

r a key offender). On one holiday, my son Lucien, then four, tried to bite the nice lady who was in charge, largely because the club had engaged a grown adult to wear a vast Noddy costume. The sight of this person dressed as a giant elf with a pointed hat made him burst into tears every time he heard his bell merrily jingling.And if there is no kids’ club on hand, please forget about the wheeze of hiring a nanny, or even a local teenager, to come with you to take care of the sprogs so you can have time off wallowing in a sangria-induced hangover. It happens in real life: a complete stranger contacted my oldest daughter, then just 17, last summer and asked her if she would be keen on looking after five children aged betwe

en two and 10, in a holiday villa (with a swimming pool) while she, her hubby and another couple went clubbing and then recovered the next day. What is the point of doing this?If the routine needs to change for your children, it really must change for you. Even if it means turning off the wifi and leaving work behind. You too are on holiday. I have found this very difficult in the past; and indeed in the past my children are only too fami

liar with me bringing my office away with me. It really irritates them.A few years ago, I left my computer at home when I went on a camping trip to Canada with Lucien, by

then aged nine. For a week, we drove through the Canadian Maritimes. There was no other driver. There was no wifi anyway. We were in the car for hours, driving from one national park to another, overvast distances on empty roads. Topass the time we devised an intricate quiz concerning my son’s favourite thing, namely the English Premier League. Goalies, strikers, managers, grounds. I gained a huge insight into the way my youngest child operates, what he is interested in, what makes him laughI left the UK an uninterested football ignoramus. I returned as someone who can carry off a decent conversation about the Premier League, can muster a good fantasy squad and knows (proudly) who plays at the Hawthorns. (And who their manager is.) I became fascinated by the annual multi-million pound diva drama of the league, but more crucially I also gained a huge insight into the way my youngest child operates, what he is interested in, what makes him laugh and who he really admires in midfield. If your child is the youngest of four, these insights might sometimes elude even the most devoted parent.This year, Lucien was asked for a writing project to compose a short paragraph on “my favourite holiday”. Igave him no hints or suggestions. Thisis what he wrote.“My favourite holiday so far in my life was when me and my mum went on a road trip through Canada. It was so interesting and we did so many fun activities like zip-wiring over the sea. Also we stayed in three national parks in the provinces of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia while camping in pre-arranged huts and tents. We even cooked our own breakfast over a mini portable stove. I enjoyed the eggy bread the most. Overall I really enjoyed my trip and those are only a few reasons why it was so good.”Favourite holiday in my life. Of course, he might well revisit this claim in a few years. But for now, I’m happy with the accolade.? The Brazilian, by Rosie Millard, is published by Legend Press, £8.99

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