As the holidays draw to an end and the kids head back to school, it’s time to reflect on the Summer. Like most parents on the planet I have been busy posting pictures of my BEAUTIFUL children having a FANTASTIC time on Facebook and Instagram. Slo-mo dives into the pool, sun-kissed grins, camp fire huddles, idyllic beaches – free-range kids released from their battery cages for a brief but awesome few weeks.
But, let’s be honest, behind the shiny, airbrushed, happy photos lies a grotty underbelly of misery, stress and screaming. Since I’m as guilty as the rest of them of showing the world this façade of fatherhood, here (as penance) are 5 times the holidays most definitely weren’t awesome.
- Spending money that could keep you in gin for 10 years on a foreign holiday that consists of the same routine (and lack of sleep) as at home, except: a) by day, it’s 20°C hotter, your (blue-skinned, Irish-blooded) kids have a VAMPIRIC hatred of the sun and you spend half the time spilling your undrunk beer sprinting to the pool to stop them falling in, and; b) by night, you are forced to creep around your hotel room like burglars, sip wine in your cupboard-sized bedroom because the kids are sleeping in the living area and wake up every 15m in the night as one of them falls out of bed or freaks out at the size of the spiders.
- Being in a tent in Dorset for a night, wedged between two airbeds without a sleeping bag, slowly freezing to death and being constantly prodded like a keyboard by 2 sets of knees and elbows, because you thought it would be a good idea to share a duvet with a 3 year old, had packed nothing with sleeves – it was only on night 2 where you discovered the warming powers of towel origami – and have the camping experience of a Kardashian.
- Hours (oh my God, HOURS) of car-bound I Spy with a 3 year old who can’t spell and fails to get the point: “IspywithmysomethingbeginningwithB, Daddy.” “Um. Ball?” “No daddy.” “Button?” “No.” “Um. Bloody 10 more hours of this shit?”. “No, Daddy. Hedge.”. “But hedge begins with H, Felix”. “Yes, Hedge, well done Daddy”. “Thanks Felix”. And repeat. FFS.
- A sequence of 7 family teatimes. I’m all for sitting round the table as a family for meals, but I’m not up for it EVERY SINGLE DAY with 200 other families. My children can sit down at teatime for approx. 15m. I need about 45m minutes to drink the bottle of wine which will make getting the kids to bed bearable. That leaves 30m of whack-a-mole, where my wife and I alternate 3 mouthfuls of food (and wine, God Bless You, wine) with chasing our children around a crowded canteen (I’m NOT calling it a fucking restaurant, Club Med) bumping into angry French villains like crazed, cartless Supermarios.
- Being on an aeroplane with 2 under 4s. There is a whole post to write on this so I will not expand, other than to say: NO holiday is worth the stress of being in charge of two hyperactive children in a place from which there is NO ESCAPE, 30,000 feet above the nearest bottle of Calpol. The fact I will never have to cram myself into a 1ft square airport toilet with my child to change their nappy ever again makes me very happy.
As a(n anonymous) member of the Mum Mafia said to me: “Thank fuck they’re back at school, I say. Oops, did I say that out loud?”.