Holidays, they’re wonderful. I used to live for my holidays, that blissful couple of weeks spent lazing about on a sun lounger for hours on end, casually flipping through a magazine whilst simultaneously working on my tan and sipping a cocktail.
But there are two types of holidays: There are holidays and then there are holidays with kids. And sadly, the word ‘kids’ generally negates the word ‘holiday.’ Going on vacation with children typically requires careful consideration and strategic planning both of which are to be executed with military like precision. Which sadly is less like a holiday and more like work.
Take our latest family holiday for example. We are in New Zealand for the school holidays visiting family, which happen to be scattered from one end of the North Island to the other. This being the case we had the option of either hiring a car and driving from Wellington to Auckland (approx. a 6 hour + drive) or catching a domestic flight. To me it seemed like no contest; I would choose to fly, a quick relatively easy one-hour flight. My husband however, decided he would rather hire a rental car and in doing so, sentenced us to a six and half hour drive trapped in a steel prison, with whingy and grumpy children. (WTF? – Where’s the Fun in that?)
A long-distance road trip with kids is not for the faint hearted, (its for the incredibly bold or dare I say stupid). The only way we were going to survive this trip was with much consideration and careful planning. So, in preparation we purchased the equivalent of the boy’s body weight (each) in snacks. I figured it was harder for them to whinge when their mouths were full. We also made sure their iPads were fully charged, gave them essentials like a bottle of water and a jumper each, and finally, we built a barrier in the middle seat, (like the Berlin wall – separating East from West) so that that neither boy could accuse the other of encroaching on their space.
Planning complete and we were on our way. The peace lasted a mere forty-five minutes. This is all it took before boredom kicked in and the world’s most annoying question was asked. ‘Are we there yet???’ Not. Even. Close.
We managed to travel another half hour or so in silence before an ‘urgent’ toilet stop was requested. We were of course in the middle of nowhere. No worries I thought, we can just pull over to the side of the road and do a sneaky ‘tree wee,’ right? Wrong! It was of course a number two that my son needed to do. Unsurprisingly I didn’t fancy my son using a leaf to try and clean up his business with and so I told him to ‘hold it.’ This of course lead to an agonising half an hour’s worth of listening to ‘I really need to go’ and ‘when will we be stopping?’ until we reached the next regional town.
Toilet pit stop over, and we were back on the road, this time we got about 10 minutes of blissful silence before one son decided he didn’t like the way his brother was looking at him and so he says, ‘What are you looking at you idiot?’ Naturally the other is not going to let this slide without retaliation, so he fired back with ‘I’m looking at a super idiot’ and then started whipping him in the face with his jumper. Full blown war had broken out, (so much for my ‘Berlin Wall) and the boys had now engaged in a yelling match of epic proportions. I yelled at them to be quiet, which fell on deaf ears. The fighting only escalated from here, now they were both swiping at each other and yelling at the top of their lungs. I looked over at my husband and he had a vein in his head that was bulging and threatening to blow. Without warning he opened his mouth and roared at the kids, telling them to zip it or get out! It had the desired effect, instance silence befalling the car. I wish I could say the story had a happier ending from here. But sadly no, it seems my kids are slow learners, as there were several other altercations between this point and our destination. I am pleased to report that we did all eventually make it in one piece.
In summation: Road tripping with kids. Not a brilliant idea. Next time I am definitely investing the money and flying, better still, we may even invest extra money and fly business class while the kids sit back in coach. Now that is starting to sound more like a holiday already!
Love and Light Always, Bel x
Saturday School Sport. Three simple words that put dread, fear (& sometimes anger) into the heart of every parent. Don’t get me wrong, I love that my kids are active and are not iPad ‘zombie-ing’ every moment of every day, but Saturday mornings suck. Thanks to school sport, Saturdays now have lost all meaning, effectively rendering them ‘dead.’ Mums and Dads of school aged children will get what I am saying, no doubt nodding their heads in collective agreement.
Take this morning for instance… My alarm clock rather ungraciously woke me at 5:45am, (5:45am on a Saturday morning is beyond crap, unless you are specifically an early bird, or you are a hard-core runner, of which I am neither). So, as I was saying, it was early when I dragged my sorry butt out of bed in order to prepare myself and the kids for today’s cricket game and our 6:30am departure. Today’s game was scheduled for Ipswich, (for those of you that haven’t heard of it, Ipswich is ridiculously hot and is in the middle of nowhere). And from my place, Ipswich is at least an hour’s drive away. That is provided you don’t get lost, which we did.
I am pleased to report that I made it to Ipswich by the required time of 7:30am, but sadly, this was where my success ended, as I had absolutely no idea where the playing fields were and the GPS app on my phone wasn’t working. Don’t ask me why, it’s never not worked before, but I may as well have thrown my phone out the window of my car, for all the good it was doing me! For ten minutes I drove in what I believed to be the right direction before discovering it was in fact not. (Insert choice swear words here)! I of course then had to turn around and drive back to where I had come from so I could try again.
Flustered and in a hurry, I headed off in a different direction. The ‘school sport gods’ must really have been frowning upon me, because we were now officially late. In my haste, I must have read the map incorrectly, as once again it became painfully apparent that we were going the wrong way. Saturday sport had now officially turned ‘septic’ and my anger had reached epic proportions. Not only was I forced to get up at an unsavoury hour on a Saturday morning, but now I was driving around in circles in a suburb I didn’t know, all the while my son was screaming at me from the passenger seat reminding me that we were late, a fact of which I was painfully aware. To add insult to injury, all of this was going on and I hadn’t even had my morning coffee!
The situation had become desperate, without knowing what else to do, I pulled over the car and started walking the streets of Ipswich, looking for a street sign, a landmark, a person I could ask directions of – anything. (Seemed like a better idea than screaming and believe me I had already contemplated that.) Luckily, I was saved by a very nice man, who pointed me in the right direction and assured me that our destination was only a couple of blocks away. When we finally arrived at the playing fields we were half an hour late and the game was already underway. I practically pushed my son out of the moving car while I simultaneously yelled an apology at the cricket coach for my tardiness.
Frustrating story, right? Don’t worry, it ended well: As of this moment my son has managed to get over his anger at me for making him late and is now out happily playing cricket with his friends; As for me, I have a coffee in my hand (finally) and have just released all of my frustrations through this blog. So, I’m all good now, that is until this time next week when I will have to do it all over again!
A friend of mine recently confessed to reading Vogue magazine in the laundry. I stared at her quizzically, Vogue in the laundry? Sensing my doubt, she went on to explain how it was actually a stroke of genius because if she were to dare and try and read it on the lounge (as normal childless people would), she would be interrupted with an endless barrage of requests and complaints from her children. You know the gratingly irritating kind like, ‘she stole my iPad’ or ‘their biscuit is bigger than mine’ or my personal favourite ‘he’s looking at me.’ However, if she was in the laundry, a place so dull, that no one other than those who absolutely must would go, she found that her time was uninterrupted. And so, ‘Vogue in the Laundry’ was born.
I have to hand it to her, it truly was a brilliant idea. Not only was it sound, (my kids never go into the laundry unless it is for time out), but it was one so good that I too, would have to implement in my own home. Immediately. Sensing my excitement my friend went on to say that as a way to take this particular activity 'to the next level,' she also takes with her a nice glass of sauvignon blanc to enjoy as she is flipping through the pages. Now she was really talking my language. All I needed to truly make this picture perfect would be diffusing some gorgeous essential oils to cover up the smell of ‘dirty, smelly boy’ that wafts mercilessly from the piles of unwashed clothes that always seem to be there no matter no many loads of washing I do.
Now I know what you are thinking: If you are childless, you will be horrified. The very idea of vogue magazine, the epitome of glamour and style, sharing the airspace with dirty clothes is so very uncouth that is utterly and totally unfathomable. (My 20-year-old self would most definitely agree with this.) However, if you have kids you will not only understand but celebrate this initiative with gusto and enthusiasm. We mothers all know too well that ‘quiet time’ is as precious as gold and rarer than the holy grail. So, if reading vogue in the laundry is going to help us achieve this, then yes this is exactly what we are going to do. Sure, we may have to share space with the dirty laundry or the cats smelly litter box, but this is a trade-off that we Mothers are more than happy to make.
They say you should never work with animals or children and my boys’ performance over the weekend is the perfect testament as to why. So, in my infinite wisdom I thought it would be a good idea to have a family portrait done; this as it turns out, was one of the silliest ideas I have ever had. Don’t get me wrong, the idea of having a nice family portrait of the four of us is a lovely idea but let me put emphasis on the key word here, ‘nice.’ I am fairly certain that when the photos are returned to us there won’t be anything nice about it.
The photographers first mistake was in asking my boys to give me the ‘tightest cuddle they could.’ The photographer is the mother of only girls, which is obvious, otherwise she would have known what would happen after giving the boys an instruction such as this. My boys heard the words ‘tightest cuddle’ and took this as an invitation to crush the life out of me. I had each son on either side of me and both of them were pushing and grabbing at me like rugby front rowers in a scrum jostling for the ball… if you haven’t worked it out already, I was the ball! I was being pushed, pulled and squeezed until eventually I was pushed and fell (rather ungraciously) onto the ground. In my boys’ defence, neither of them were trying to hurt me, in fact quite the contrary, they were both trying to give me the biggest and best cuddle as proof of who loved me the most.
The photographers second mistake was assuming that my children could sit still for more than two seconds at a time, (once again evidence that she is the mother of only girls, for any mother of sons would know that boys constantly twitch, jerk and spasm like they have a colony of ants in their pants)! She instructed us to all sit nicely in a line and huddle together. To be fair the boys’ bottoms did remain planted but their hands hand a mind of their own. Every two to three seconds one of them would have to scratch, flap, flick or swipe at something. Not because they needed to but rather because they could.
Sadly, my story only goes further downhill from here. Next the photo session was brought to a grinding holt for not one but two toilet stops -both for a number two. Naturally we were on the beach and nowhere near a toilet, the nearest one being a good 10 min walk away. (In the spirit of keeping this G rated, I will not divulge the words that were coming into my head at this moment) What is it about children (boys particularly) and their incessant need to visit every bathroom toilet in every location that they have ever visited? There isn’t a lot of things in life that I can count on but my children’s inability to visit a new place without using the toilet at least once is something I can be sure of!
After checking out the amenities they return some twenty minutes later only to announce that they are hungry, no, starving in fact. So, starving, they claim that they couldn’t possibly continue without having something to eat. Aarrrgh!!! (I hear the phrase ‘I’m hungry about a hundred times a day and it drives me crazy!) Knowing that this is a battle I will not win, I hand them both a snack and urge them to eat it quickly as the daylight is now starting to fade.
Finally, we get back to the task of taking photos and the photographer instructs the boys to hold hands and walk off towards the dunes. In theory, this is a lovely idea… white dunes, pink and purple tones of the sky, my gorgeous cherubs holding hands… The reality is nowhere near as perfect or romantic, I look over at my boys to discover that Master 8’s free hand is flapping around furiously like a bird trying to take flight. When instructed ‘not to do that’, he does stop, to only moments later engage in the act of scratching his behind instead!
The sun has now set bringing our photo session to an end. To say I am frustrated would be a major understatement… Seriously, I don’t know what I was thinking. I’m not sure what kind of photos I am going to get but if I want ones where my sons are trying to imitate a flapping bird, or look like some feral grot, scratching his bum or if I want one where they look like they are trying to kill me then I might just get something good!
As for working with animals or children… for now I think it is best that I just keep writing about them ;-)
I was doing the Super Mum thing again (or at least trying to). In a spare half hour between dropping one son off at athletics training and the other son to his diving squad, I stopped at a coffee shop for some much needed sustenance (aka coffee) and to try and get some work done. I handed Master 8 a book and began furiously typing away at my computer.
I was engrossed in an idea for my upcoming book when Master 8 pipes up and gestures to something he is reading, ‘look Mum, this is really funny, see, he dropped the toilet seat on his thing.’ He laughs like this is one of the funniest things he has heard all week – (I seriously hope this is not the best that this week has had to offer) – before returning to the book. I am grateful that he does not ask for me to comment as I just don’t get it. Maybe my failure to see the humour in it is due to my absence of a ‘thing,’ maybe you have to be a boy to really get that one.
He later interrupts to tell me that ‘some guys finger is up someone else’s nose’ at this he laughs even more hysterically than the first time and it takes some time before he can manage to compose himself. Really???
I close my laptop, he’s got my attention now. I ask him what is so funny about that? Master 8 looks at me like I am an alien from outer space. ‘He has his finger up someone else’s nose.’ He spoke slowly, deliberately, spacing out the words like I was the world’s biggest imbecile. ‘But why is that funny?’ I ask, pressing him further. ‘Because it is gross,’ was his reply. ‘Although it would be even funnier if his finger got stuck up there and they had to walk around all day attached to each other.’ He then turns back to his ‘gross’ nose picking book. Apparently, our conversation is over.
For boys apparently gross = funny (hysterically funny actually), but for me gross = gross. Now it is my turn to look at my son like he is an alien from outer space… ‘Who is this weird creature?’ Why is picking somebody else’s nose funny? And more importantly, why would anybody want to do that? (Sadly, I’ve discovered it doesn’t necessarily get any better as they age. The other day I was watching a reality TV show where a male contestant threw his dirty underpants onto his girlfriend’s face because it was funny… once again, all I can say is really???) I am still staring at my son, trying to comprehend what it is that I am missing here?
I don’t think I’ll ever get it. Men truly are from Mars and women from Venus. There was however, a silver lining here: as much as I don’t get the humour behind a toilet seat dropping on someone’s ‘thing,’ my son is reading and this is a good thing. I would much rather he read a book, albeit about nose picking, than playing an iPad any day. Sadly, it is the nose picking and toilet humour that grabs our boys attention, just as the use of fairies, ponies and princesses in stories that are written for girls. Underneath all of this however, is hopefully something of substance; subtle messages and morals that help shape our kids into the type of responsible young people we want them to be. And so, I suppose I will make some allowances as I believe the end definitely justifies the means.
In an ideal world, things would be different but sadly I’ve discovered we can’t change our boys, it’s in their DNA. Apparently, words such as poo, wee, bum and fart are funny and this poor princess just needs to get with the program. Or escape to a really good coffee shop somewhere close and bang out a rant like blog, which is exactly what I did ;-)
Who needs Breakfast at Tiffany’s when you can have Breakfast with Boys? Haha, who I am kidding, I’ll take Breakfast at Tiffany’s any day!
In Breakfast at Tiffany’s the gorgeous Holly Golightly, (aka Audrey Hepburn,) starts her day by wandering around the streets of New York. Holly is the epitome of poise and grace; Her hair is swept up in a neat chignon and she is wearing a simple, yet lovely, couture dress and a beautiful string of pearls. She stops in front of the iconic Tiffany’s Jewellery Store and daintily nibbles on a delectable Croissant while looking lovingly at the sparkling treasures that are held within. Couture outfit, delicious French pastry, sparkling diamonds; Sounds like heaven to me. Sadly, my breakfast experience is as far removed from this scene as one can possible get. Take today for instance…
It’s Saturday, I was looking forward to a nice sleep in; My boys, aged 10 and 8 respectively had other ideas. I was awoken to the sound of them fighting and wrestling in the kitchen over a fidget spinner of all things. Apparently the 8 year old had the audacity to touch the 10 year old’s most prized possession, and so a fight began. Regretfully the yelling, banging and crashing elevated to a level where it became impossible to ignore, so I relented and got up.
Fidget Spinner crisis over, we move onto the actual event of breakfast. My husband had gone to the effort to make Bacon and Egg Burgers, which was a treat and they were delicious; (although it was no Almond Croissant!). I had taken a rather large mouthful of breakfast when Master 8 pipes up with this piece of infinite wisdom… ‘There is nothing worse than a Brown Fart Cloud.’ At this I literally gag and almost choke on my burger. Those who know me well know that I am not overly good with the concept of ‘Poo Particles,’ never have been, although it seems to be getting worse the more I age. Poo talk at any time of the day, let alone breakfast, is something I just can’t handle. But on this thought I am of course outnumbered, 3 to 1. It seems I am all alone in my belief that this is an inappropriate breakfast conversation.
‘Wouldn’t it be great if there was a farting competition where you could win a gold medal for the loudest fart?’ Offers Master 10. My husband’s response to this, is not to shut it down, not to remind the boys that such things shouldn’t be discussed while we were eating, or that they should try and act more like gentlemen. No, my husband did not say any of these things, instead his response was, ‘Yes but you would be disqualified if you did a Shart.’ (NB – if by some freak of nature you have not come across the term ‘shart’ I urge you to Google it, as I am far too much of a lady to elaborate any further here.) At this declaration all 3 of them are roaring with laughter. I shake my head and wonder how my life came to this? How did a Princess who loves shopping, ballet and all things pink end up here, the victim of fart talk at breakfast?
It’s ok, you can laugh, I know you want to. I know I probably would I if heard the story. But unfortunately for me, this isn’t a story, this actually is MY life!
At this thought I give up and begin to laugh too, the situation is far too gross and absurd not to. Plus, as the old saying goes, ‘if you can’t beat them, join them.’ As for actually joining them? Never! I plan on clinging to my girlie ways as ferociously as ever. You will never catch me talking about Brown Fart Clouds or Sharts over a family meal! But in the spirit of not giving myself an aneurism, the best I can do is to laugh along with them and make a mental note to somehow work this scene into one of my books. (That’s right be careful what you do or say in front of a writer, as you may very well become the latest character in one of their stories!)
So, with this all said and done, Breakfast at Tiffany’s might be more civilised, but Breakfast with Boys is far more entertaining. Gross and as uncouth as it is, I probably should be thanking them for all the great material!
About the author
So, who is the Princess in Steelcap Boots? That’s me; shopaholic, chatterbox, book lover and collector of pink things. I am the girliest of girls, who happens to live in a house full of boys – my husband, my two sons, even our dog is a boy! Life in my household is hectic, loud, messy and most of all smelly! When I’m not immersing myself in reading or writing, I can usually be found wielding an electric drill and donning a high-vis vest and a pair of steelcap boots, whilst at work in my husband’s business. (For evidence click here)…