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TMCNet:  Thanks for all the baby-sitting, Minecraft [Lincolnshire Echo (England)]

[August 28, 2014]

Thanks for all the baby-sitting, Minecraft [Lincolnshire Echo (England)]

(Lincolnshire Echo (England) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) We are in the final throes of the school holidays. Is that a 'hoorah!' I can hear, or will you be sad it's all over? There's something to be said for taking it steady over the summer break. Who needs to rush around? There's plenty of time for that when the new academic year starts and the main focus of our day is getting children into class before the bell rings and then racing back to the school gates to collect them again.


I have been positively sloth-like in my approach the last few weeks.

I was hoping I would have built up a head of steam as we hit the mid-way point and by now would have camped out in the back garden, enjoyed several picnics, visited a theme park and been swimming at Woodhall Spa. (The weather turned before I could make my annual pilgrimage to the lido and I am hoping for a weekend of tropical weather in September so I can keep my promise of an outdoor dip to Lottie.) But with Louie cutting four teeth at once, (oh, the joys of a grumpy baby) it has been hard to find the energy for anything more action-packed than the odd afternoon trip out. I need more coal in my engine, or at least to start drinking espresso instead of latte.

The beach has been our favourite destination. We have made castles in the sandpit at Whisby Garden Centre, popped along to the Little Darters adventure playground at Whisby Natural World Centre, which also has a sandy play area and most recently, Mr C and I spent an hour sitting in deckchairs at Lincoln by the Sea as our kids made the most of it without a bucket or spade to play with.

Don't forget to bring your own if you plan to visit from now until Sunday, August 31, when it closes. It's not quite the same using an empty Costa Coffee cup.

Much as I am loathe to say it, the video game console has been something of a saviour on wet days and those mornings when I have been functioning in a fug of sleep deprivation.

While there have often been times I would happily drop Mr C's Xbox into a bath of beans, the blasted thing has been my daughter's friend, her babysitter and her entertainer.

I'm not proud of this. I feel I should have been engaging with her more instead of leaving her to kick back in a cyber world.

Then I think back to my own childhood. When I was eight-years - old, I don't remember my parents spending hours entertaining me. I did that by myself. Granted, the fun I made was more 'organic' - reading Enid Blyton books, hanging out at the nearby park, caring for a small menagerie of mice, guinea pigs and chickens - but I did it on my own, or with my gang of equally unsupervised friends.

I'm not sure what my parents were doing when I was busying myself. I imagine mum was catching up with her housework and dad was putting a shelf up somewhere.

As for my brother, at four years younger than me, my mum always recalls if he had his Tonka trunk and a muddy patch of garden he was happy as a pig in, well, muck.

So, I am trying to rationalise the time Lottie has spent playing on her Minecraft video game as the modern day equivalent to dangling upside-down in trees.

For those unaware of this gaming phenomenon, it's like digital Lego, where players build anything they can imagine out of 3D blocks -there's an element of skill, combat and survival to it, so I could almost argue it is educational.

With technology as it is, she can even talk to her buddies via a headset when they play together in an online forum.

If I really want to, I can persuade myself it hones her social skills as she has to co-operate and collaborate with other players.

Who am I kidding? This immersive game makes life easy for me when I need to get jobs pulled in around the house.

In a week's time my daughter will be unplugged and enter the real world once more as the new term brings with it fresh challenges.

Soon, it will be about sleeping through alarm clocks and eating breakfast on the hoof and locating missing cardigans stuffed into satchels. As she enters Year 4, she is aware her reception days, where lessons centred around sing-song phonics rhymes and basic addition, are long gone. She is savvy enough to know the further up the school pecking order she goes, the harder she will have to work. "I don't get hardly any 'planning' time," she wailed at me recently as we tried on her freshly purchased unifor m. "What's planning time?" I asked. "Free time to draw, or read, or have fun." Ah, maybe we should have done a bit more of that during the last five weeks. Sam Curtis, 44, lives in Lincoln in a house that's not as clean or tidy as she'd like with her husband, Leigh, their daughter Lottie, 8, and new addition baby Louie.

(c) 2014 ProQuest Information and Learning Company; All Rights Reserved.

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