Time for a holiday

Time for a holiday

As I sit here trying to contemplate something worthy to say, I type in a sort of sleep-deprived delirium, pickled and coated in a thin, pungent, sticky veneer of recycled air that clings to the skin (and somehow manages to linger despite showering)– the tell-tale signs and unavoidable pitfalls of long-haul air travel (Awww, diddums. I can already hear the high pitch tuning of baby violins.) Sure, I question the wisdom of posting after only five hours combined sleep in two days, I write between extended blinks– I’m impressed I can even string together a coherent thought (debatable, yes)– but after so many weeks’ absence I feel needs must. It ticks a box, and though certainly not worthy, for the obsessive-compulisve in me is bizarrely (and not a little sadly) satisfying.

So anyway moving on. D and I have just returned from our week-long workshop on tactical/tag-team parenting. I suspect some of you out there may have also enrolled in this seminar at one point or another, otherwise known as the family beach holiday. Most parents of young children know that there are few things in this world less relaxing than a family week in the sun. Gone are the days of lounging lazily by a turquoise pool, covered in Crisco with nothing more than a trashy mag and pina colada for entertainment. From tsunami waves, boneless stinging creatures lurking beneath murky waters, exotic bugs and a scorching sun promising first degree burns for the tender toddler flesh not sporting factor 100, not to mention the conveniently unguarded pool sans shallow-end, the entire affair is an exercise in how not to kill your child and keep them happy along the way. Just how youth is wasted on the young, little did I appreciate in those blissfully self-indulgent child free days of yesteryear that peace (and peace of mind) which comes without having children and how 24 hours of fun in the sun poses a laundry list of potential death traps for little ones and unyielding anxiety for parents. If you haven’t hugged your parents for all those family trips, now’s a good time.

This year we ventured across the pond with the whole extended family for a self-catered week in the sun.  After a six hour drive stretched to over eight with potty breaks, at last we arrived on Hilton Head Island (along with the entire state of Georgia). We spent our days riding bikes, building sand castles, braving waves before washing it all down with a requisite dip in the pool (punctuated with daily pilgrimages to the supermarket, naturally). The thing with family beach holidays, particularly of the American road-trip variety (forget your European package holidays) is just what a production it is. You’ve got your tent, towels, chairs, boogy-boards, paddle-boards, cooler, food, drinks (the one time of year I feel compelled to drink beer from a can), sun cream, mags, books (in a foolish leap of faith I brought one. Funny, right?), hats and more towels. Then you and a small army have to haul the entire lot the 300 yards or so down to the shore (if you’re lucky to be so close). You’ve got to be really committed to feeling that sand between the toes. But before all this we have the pre-game warm-up, getting kids dressed, kitted, hatted and slathered in a month’s salary’s worth of sun cream only for me to worry and reapply the second they make contact with the water. (I’m in the wrong business.)

So why do we do it? Well I’m happy (and relieved) to report not only did we manage not to kill our kids, but the little ones loved it. Our eldest braved the swells and mastered the art of body-boarding, little one sat happily digging with his bucket and spade (well, most of the time) and I cashed in my shift off parental duty trying the latest in water sports, paddle boarding. All the family and cousins had some long overdue quality bonding time; you know, all the stuff of which memories are made.

So just ignore my moaning above (easy enough). For all the apparent pitfalls, I have to say it was, in the end, pretty damn great.

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