How to successfully exhaust a 6 year old boy:
1. Sign him up for an 'all age' soccer camp, which runs all day, 9-4.
2. Have the soccer camp unhelpfully change its location from down the road to a 45 minute drive away, meaning he leaves the house at 8 and returns at 5. But stick with it.
3. Drop him, bewildered by his long car journey, at football field in the middle of nowhere.
4. Leave to play nonstop football in the baking sun all day, relying on him to reapply suncream himself (he actually did well, but missed the back of his neck one day).
5. Get there to pick him up and realise that he is much the smallest child there, and is playing on a team that includes hulking 10 year old boys and impressively talented 14 year old girls. Also realise that this is no nicely-nicely summer camp where 'everyone's a winner' - it's more like boot camp.
6. Rehydrate and remove sweaty socks and football boots; place exhausted child in car.
7. Just to make sure he's really tired, take him swimming afterwards to cool off.
8. Repeat on a loop for 3 days running.
Result: The surprisingly resilient child will hold his own, impressing coaches and older kids alike. However, he will be so exhausted by the whole thing that he will behave in an uncharacteristically quiet fashion all weekend: sitting decorously by the pool relaxing after a half hour swimming, playing nicely with his toys instead of careering about the house madly, and responding obediently to requests to tidy up.
In other news, here's how to put off a 4 year old from his forthcoming trip to Niagara Falls:
1. Tell him about the scene in Superman 2 where Superman rescues a child who has fallen over the waterfall.
2. In fit of enthusiasm, get the film from the video library and show it to the boys.
Result: 4 year old will announce that he no longer wants to go to Niagara Falls. He only wants to look at it from TV, and will not go anywhere near the top of the waterfall. What he will make of a hotel room overlooking the Falls, I am not sure. Still, at least he got the message that Superman will not be coming to rescue him.....