It seems only appropriate that whilst I sit here, at 11.30pm at night, trying to download photos and videos from phone, getting increasingly frustrated, that I should write about the complete and utter disconnect between our expectations of a holiday with children and the ensuing reality.
I don’t know about you, but Lovely Bloke and I are deluded. Year after year, we have these lofty ideas of harmonious playing, co-operation and a can do attitude from the moment we step out of our front doors to go on holiday to the moment we get back. The reality, is somewhat different. Before we have even left the house, we’ve resorted to outright bribery.
We’ve promised our offspring a magazine at the airport if they go through check in nicely – without pulling faces at the check in desks, without asking the policeman with a gun if there’s really a bullet in it and daring him to test it. We pray that they won’t repeat what they did last time, when you were unpacking your laptop, two ipads and phones and all associated cables and paraphernalia, which is to strip to their pants for screening because they were told to “take them off” – the person meant their shoes, not everything that they were wearing as well.
Then there’s the treat of having breakfast at the airport. It’s the most surreal thing ever. You’re all excited – but you also have to contain yourselves, knowing that there’s a confined space ahead, where you must all share the two pieces of precious IT kit known as The Blessed iPads. The fact that there’s only one pair of earphones, and that neither of your children want to put the buds in their ears, is irrelevant because everyone else on the flight is in the same position that you are. They are willing your children to well and truly act up and throw the Mother Of All Tantrums, because it will make their youngest flinging food with his fork as a catapult seem tame in comparison.
Anyway, once you and your Other Half have both knocked a couple of Gins and a glass of wine, you’ll be ready for the next bit – known as the Gateway To An Alternate Universe – it’s the bit where you get off the plane and breathe a sigh of relief, before going through another customs check and start to play the “Stand Still Whilst I Chase Our Luggage Around The Carousel” Game. If you’re a family like ours, it will appear to be so much fun that your children will be desperate to play it with you. And your other half, feeling that they want the distance between themselves and the children too, will be keen to join in and act as a wingman for this activity. The latter results in the simmering tensions generated through being nice to each other for a 4 hour flight bubbling to the surface when you both lunge for the same piece of luggage and wrestle to claim the victory of grabbing it. Only to realise that it’s not even yours in the first place.
Anyway, moving swiftly on. At this point, you’re ready to start your holiday. Oh wait, you’re not. You’re ready to get on the coach with two children who could not be dressed any more inappropriately for the climate if you’d tried. It’s the stuff that Michael McIntyre sketches are made of. You’re losing it. Your team mate lost it whilst circling the luggage belt and your children have sensed that they are nearly at the destination, so they’d better gear up to full throttle, to ensure maximum havoc is reached on the final assault towards the Holiday of Heaven.
Yes, it’s the coach. The final hurdle to overcome before you really start your holiday. If you are lucky, you’ll be on a coach that’s big enough for your sobbing and your children’s hysterically tired shrieking to be drowned out by the other families in the same boat. If you’re unlucky it will be a small, quiet coach, where your family are the highlight of everyone else’s eyebrow raising, quiet sighs whilst you are given the title of Those Whom We Must Not Speak To At Any Cost. You can guess which type we usually seem to end up on, can’t you?
Disclaimer – some bits of this piece are not true. Sadly, the majority of it is. I don’t know if you will disown me and never read this blog again if I tell you which is which. We’re currently on holiday at Levante, Rhodes, with Mark Warner and I’m writing about all the brilliant, strange and fabulous things that happen to families when they go on holiday.