moreshortstuff

Life, kids etc.

A lesson in how not to holiday with children

English: The Passenger Oxygen mask of CA976 fl...

Yay! We get to have a go on the oxygen masks, Daddy!

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE BOLTON NEWS ON FRIDAY 2 DECEMBER 2011

Away on a family holiday this week for a special celebration.

There are 13 of us. Well it seemed like a good idea at the time…

We had to get special permission to take our older boy out of school for this but it has proven very educational. At least, it has proven very educational for the grown ups on the trip.

For me and Mrs Short, it’s the first time we’ve gone abroad with the kids. So the first thing I learnt was this: get a taxi to the airport. “Let’s take the boys on the train, it will be like an adventure starting for them,” we said. How wrong we were. Trying to force your way onto a packed train with a giant suitcase, pram and baby under one arm is the opposite of fun. But at least it prepares you for the hell of the plane.

If you’ve never flown with a baby in tow, my advice is don’t! I’m surprised there isn’t a book on this to prepare you, or at least a chapter on it in all those parenting guides you can get. But then again I suppose no amount of planning can prepare you for an infant filling his nappy in a confined space at 30,000 feet. Just as the ‘fasten seatbelts’ sign has gone on so that neither you or any passengers nearby can escape the sickening whiff for a good 20 minutes.

Mind you, it was our four year old who worried one of the passengers the most. You could hear the sobbing groan of despair from The Most Terrified Of Flying Woman In The World a row in front of us every time he asked a question that started with “Mummy, if we crash…” You would not believe how many questions can start that way. But he was so looking forward to crashing – you get your own oxygen mask and a life jacket with a light and a whistle on it and everything!

Finally we reach our destination and learn another new thing. Minibus drivers in some countries hate it when the passengers sing! He finally snapped at the 28th chorus of “The back of the bus cannae sing, cannae sing, cannae sing.” What a grouch!

The rest of the holiday so far has seen my learning curve continue to go up. I’ve always thought beaches sucked – what’s the point of going to a place just to get sand everywhere? – but they are even suckier with kids in tow. Did you know it can take upwards of an hour to find mummy’s bag when they have “buried it”. How we laughed. Other lessons have included: don’t let a child order octopus in restaurants, no matter how much they plead; the game of charades has limited appeal when ‘Spiderman’, ‘Cars 2‘ and ‘Batman‘ are the only films one of the other contestants can remember; your dad’s “theory” on the disappearance of Madelaine McCann sbould not be aired in a public bar; and kids are rubbish at poker. There are still a few days to go. Who knows what lessons still await?

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Oh, to be a man

English: Gents this way A nice bit of artwork ...

I’ve always wondered at what age the transition from boy to man happens. With the eldest child not yet five years of age, it’s safe to say puberty and eventual manhood are some way off.
Somebody ought to have told him that, though.
Picture the scene: we go for a traditional Sunday lunch at a local foody pub. It’s full of people of all ages tucking into roast beef and Yorkshire puds, with some of the more upwardly mobile couples sampling the delights of the specials board.
Dad has a pint of real ale – you know, for a change – and the place is just the right side of posh – the kind of place where you can just make out the faint hissing sound of mums and dads quietly, but threateningly, admonishing the kids for making too much noise.
One woman near us got up and moved to a table round the corner when our boys had the cheek to talk, albeit quite loudly. She must have never encountered children before, perhaps not even been one at some point in her life, bless.
When we did leave and walked past her new home I admit I had an inward chuckle at the fact she had jumped out of the frying pan and very much into the fire – the sort of family they make Channel 5 documentaries about (“Help – I can’t stop having kids!”) had set up camp all around her. She wept silently into her cream of celery soup. Ha!
Anyhow, back to the point – the food arrived so, naturally, Eli decided he needed the toilet and it fell to Dad to take him.
As we pushed through a big oak door, he read the sign aloud – “GENTS”. He pronounced it with a hard g – for “ggggreat “- at first. Then he asked: “Does that mean ‘gentlemen’?”
“It does, yes, clever lad.”
“So where is the ladies?”
“It’s at the other end of the pub. You have to walk down that long corridor,” I said, pointing into the distance.
“That’s well far,” he quickly worked out.
Then he paused for a minute. He slowly looked up at me and proudly declared: “I love being a man.”
I suppose we should really be worrying. In a few short years, he has already seen enough to know that the guys get the best deal in pretty much everything, even when it comes to pub toilets.

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