After seven hours of driving to Cornwall - following a very wakeful night of colds, teething and packing tons of stuff that we do actually need - I was horrified to discover the lanes near where we stayed, were narrow steep bendy hills. Russian road roulette! Was gripped with fear, hoping we wouldn't be chugging round a massive gradient, as any other vehicle was coming towards us. Luckily, we made it back to the posh caravan in one piece. But peaceful wasn't on the agenda and I hadn't realised a 'mini-break' with children could possibly be an opportunity to unwind ...
Since reaching thirty and having two pre-school kids, I've become bizarrely task focused. My objectives in my iPhone 'Notes', included building sandcastles with my kids, paddling in the sea, eating Cornish ice cream, flying his kite, going swimming and having at least one genuinely Cornish pasty and a scone with clotted cream, in its original territory. My plans are purely child-based and any fun or happiness that ensues for me is a luxury and a by-product of the scheduled kiddie-oriented simplistic activity. It's not martyrdom but realism. Grand plans often mess up and I know the pecking order.
Anyway ... a mishap with a melted giant chocolate coin and new white shorts (his), a meltdown over sandals (mine!) and the 46th play of the '64 Zoo Lane' theme song, and several hundred miles, later ... I was not best-placed to receive a dirty look from a fat bloke who owned a chip shop which, as far as I could tell, had no features indicating it was worth £40 for our average chippy tea - except that overpriced bill itself. I was beginning to wish we had not set out. And allll babies throw food. You made quite an expansive target! There are some fabulous stain-removing products about these days too.
Something always reminds me that these family getaways are not relaxing. No matter what, going on holiday with young kids is rarely restful. In fact, I always remember the night before leaving, that being at home is more of a 'holiday', in the sense that I am aware of any hazards in my own home and have baby-proofed. I am fully equipped and familiar there. I spent the whole way, thinking every half an hour that I must remember to put their medicine up high, as soon as we arrive.
But by three minutes to eight, I'd breast fed one to sleep, the other was almost 'lights out' and calmness ensued.
No Internet access, no book and no laptop. All I had was the Mirror, which I bought for the Jackson's daughter/Stephen Fry 'overdose' stories. Nothing like a pair of articles about suicide to liven up a trip to Cornwall, eh?
I noticed a seagull. I wouldn't normally have. The television is always on and I'm on my phone, but there was just a DVD facility. I only brought Maisy, Peppa Pig and Horrid Henry, none of which would appeal alone and certainly not without wine...
When my son had asked me to read him The Very Hungry Caterpillar at bedtime, I said yes straight away. With a glad heart, I enjoyed sharing that precious experience, getting him to count the food items, telling me parts of the tale as we went along. I then read Goodnight Moon and he 'helped me' finish the lines. It was only ten minutes but it felt like quality time. And we looked through our collection of shells, which included a cliché beach memento of a smooth heart-shaped pebble, which we found together on the walk back from 'writing' his name in the sand.
Turns out though, he can play iPod games without Wi-Fi. I'm sure most other folk know this but I hadn't really considered it, so it struck me as surprising. Mummy brain!
I couldn't have a bath, as there wasn't one. But this will make me more grateful at home, I resolved!
I listened to a tennis ball being knocked between two people. A wood pigeon suddenly sparked a memory of "take two coos, Paddy!" that my late lovely grandma used to say whenever she heard one - and passed on this useless wonder-wisdom to me. (She was a stickler for being punctual. She would despise being described here as 'late'!)
My husband started snoring and the call of Angry Birds as soon as my boy's head hit his pillow was too strong. Oh well, I had a few minutes of quiet contemplation. Enforced tranquility. A miniscule moment but enough maybe to reset my geeky goal-driven, list-making, media-obsessed self, who could easily turn the blue light off at home but just ...doesn't ... seem to ... be able to.
Real birds are okay for a few minutes ... But I've got to fling some imaginary ones at animated green pigs or I'll never sleep!