Flying with young children is the least possible relaxing start to a holiday one can possibly imagine. I would liken it to trying to squash five baby monkeys into a shoe box. The lid of which is a fraction too small. Whilst someone batters you round the head with a book every 30 seconds. But it doesn’t have to be so stressful. If everyone would just chill the f**k out then we could all have a lovely time…
I have been a little quiet recently. Between my two darling girlies, a (very) boozy summer and trying to get my new business off the ground, life has been a little hectic. Off the back of one of these boozy summer evenings, we…acquired (?) a week in a villa in Tuscany. I question the word acquired because it was won (?) via a silent auction at a charity ball we attended. Is won even the right word? That is like saying “I won” on eBay. The truth is that it was bid on by my heavily inebriated Husband.
Despite the fact that all we had to go on was a grainy 3cm x 3cm picture and a description that read “Enchanted extravaganza in a 5-bedroom villa in Tuscany complete with private pool”, he bid rather more money than I would have for a complete unknown entity. The auction host chat had gone on a bit and we, having lingered by the cocktail bar for too long, returned to our table to see what the slightly muffled monologue was about. Drunk Husband nabbed the table iPad and sneakily bid on some random artwork and signed boxing gloves.
I realised what he was doing and squawked at him to stop. He promised he would whilst continuing to sneakily push buttons looking at me like Gollum every time he ignored our pre-agreed financial limit. He insisted he was bidding on a holiday for us and it would be amazing. I had given up asking “how much?” and resigned myself to the fact we were going to end up with an unnaturally large frame in our siting room with giant boxing gloves sticking out and looking ridiculous. I imagined paying the cleaners extra to “accidentally” break the frame and turned away, shaking my head. At which point I saw my friend, also the evening’s compère, stalking towards me to publicly, and loudly, thank us for our overwhelming generosity. Over the microphone to a room full of about 800 people, my eyes widened as our name appeared on the screen. Second highest bidder of the evening behind the Chairman of some Bank. Shit. What had he done?!
Villa acquired/won/bought/embarrassingly-publicly-bid-on, we text our most seasoned traveller family friends and asked if they fancied joining us for a week in Italy. They immediately answered yes, without asking any of the questions that were going through my head – pool fencing, stair gates, number of breakable antiques…you know, the boring stuff. I told myself I was worrying over nothing and I silently thanked them for paying half of what we would have had to pay on our own. All in the name of charity right?! We booked our flights a few weeks later, and as I write we have just returned from a week in beautiful Tuscany.
On the whole, it was a lovely week. It didn’t get off to the greatest start but it definitely improved after we arrived.
We like an early flight and so booked the 6am out of Gatwick to Pisa. Staying at the Premier Inn the night before, we had a nice leisurely drive to the airport, stopped for dinner, dropped the car off and then were all in bed nice and early ready to wake up at 3.30am. For Girly no1, who is almost 4, this first night was the highlight of her holiday. All of us in one tiny hotel room, beds jammed together in a row, she loved it. She actually spent the rest of the holiday asking when we were going back to the first hotel.
Girly no2, nearly 2, also appeared to love it. I say appeared, her fondness was expressed by crapping all over the bed sheets of all four of the beds. “How?” you might reasonably ask. In putting her PJ’s on, I whipped off her nappy and she pulled one of her roll-and-run manoeuvres, scurrying after her sister, who was launching herself from one side of Bed Row to the other. Amidst all the squealing and giggling, it just became too much. Poo everywhere. All over the starched white sheets. Eventually we cleaned up and everyone settled in to a short night’s sleep.
I Get It
The next morning we boarded our flight with three slightly hysterical little girls. Flying SleazyJet, we were all in a row, Husband, Girly no1 and I. Girly no2 does not yet have her own seat so was excitedly flinging herself from one lap to the other, while everyone else boarded the plane. I noticed the couple that sat in front of us. They didn’t really look like “kid people” but hey, it’s an hour and 45 minutes to Pisa, how bad could it be?!
Before I go off on my diatribe, I want to tell you that I get it. I get that toddlers, babies and children can be a pain in the arse on an aeroplane. Husband and I spent many pre-children years travelling all over the world. We have been sat near the screaming child. We have had our seats kicked for an entire flight that, just when you give into the dream of being in your bed soon, you’re held in the air circling London for an extra hour. I have had my hair pulled and been woken up repeatedly from a hungover doze by a little hand tapping me on the back of my head. And sure, it’s a bit annoying. But! But, dear readers! I just dealt with it. I whacked on an eye mask, had a few drinks, snuggled up to Husband’s shoulder and did my best to ignore it. And when the parent of said child walked up and down frantically apologising I smiled warmly and said “don’t worry, it’s fine.” You know why? Because I’m not an arsehole. And I know that adding stress to an already stressful situation is the worst possible thing to do.
What I did not do was tut, complain, moan, glare, mutter angrily or stare. Which is exactly what Toad Face and Coconut Head (terms of endearment for the couple sat in front of us) did the whole way to Pisa.
In fairness to the Girlies, they were really well behaved. They weren’t crying or screaming, there were no tears or fighting, there was just a bit of movement and the odd over-excited outburst.
Girly no2 couldn’t remember any of her previous flights and was both excited and terrified to be on an aeroplane. She swapped laps a few times, she stretched out her short fat legs and she played with the tray on the seat in front a bit. Because she’s 1 and a new place is interesting to her.
Girly no1 sat quietly most of the time on the iPad with her new headphones on, occasionally shouting “GORLY!” in a too-loud voice to her best friend across the aisle because she doesn’t understand that her voice increases by 50 decibels when her ears are covered. I found it hilarious. The first few times anyway! She also nudged the seat in front a few times because her legs are the perfect length to stretch from one seat to the other and at 3, she has no concept of distance, pressure etc. Why would she? She’s 3.
The man and woman in front of us were the worst possible people to be sat in front of me and my lovely-though-not-very-still family. They were tutters. And moaners. And grunters. And starers. With evil eyes. And big pig noses. And slobber hanging from their jaws. Ok I may have made that last bit up but they definitely weren’t kind. They turned round every minute or so to glare at us. It made me paranoid, edgy and fraught. And it made what should have been quite a sweet fuss-free experience a really fractious one that had me holding my one year old’s feet together in a bid to stop her moving. We had to try and pin her to one of our laps instead of letting her gaze out at the clouds or peek her head into the aisle to make new friends.
Their behaviour had me snapping at Girly no1 to stop wriggling. It made us hissy and snippy when really, there was no need. I know there was no need, not because I can see no wrong in our children (for evidence read any of my previous posts), but because they were by general standards, pretty well behaved. And I’m very clear on whether my children are doing horrible things to upset other people. This was confirmed by a member of cabin crew and at least two other travellers who told us so, unprompted after we landed. We were the last to get off the plane. We picked up all of our toys from the fun bag I had packed (previous post on Flying With Babies here) and disembarked the aircraft.
This anxious start to everyone’s holiday was just unnecessary. It didn’t do any of us any good. Toad Face and Coconut Head were grumpy and we were stressed out. The girlies obviously didn’t give a shit – why would they? That said, they don’t respond well to a snappy parent, because small people are mood sponges and the more agitated their parent becomes, the more annoying the child becomes. It’s science (I know, I should be a teacher).
I wanted to stop to Toad Face and Coconut Head and discuss the impact of their behaviour with them. But what would be the point? I doubt they will be any less grumpy until they have children of their own. If they ever do. We will always be annoying to some people. I accept that. But it’s for such a short period of time. And we do our best to contain our annoyingness. We take our own entertainment and food and whatever else we need to do to try and be inconspicuous. We’re definitely not going to travel any less.
They had somehow ended up near us at baggage reclaim. I sat on some seats, glowering at them and ranting in my head. “Just you wait til you never read my blog!” I thought! The three girls ran around burning off some pent up energy. I secretly hoped one of them might trip them up, then I thought, let it go. You’re on holiday. And, in the spirit of Elsa, I did.
Bonus: Free Advice on Flying With Young Children
Just quickly, I want to point out here to any new parents thinking of flying: I have heard some of you talk of not flying until your child has reached their first birthday. NO! THIS IS WRONG! Flying with a tiny little little person is easy because they are still and they are used to being in one place. The bad time is between starting to crawl and walk and pre-being-able-to-be-engaged-in-an-activity. That’s the nightmare phase. This is the one we are in the thick of now! Just some free advice for you.
Thanks for stopping by! If you have enjoyed, please feel free to share with your friends. Apologies for the long gap between posts. You will maybe be pleased to know that I have already started on the next post so hopefully it will appear on here sometime soon. Maybe. Love you! Bye!
Those of you that regularly read my blog may remember me talking about my fear of birthing a psychopath. Turns out it wasn’t unfounded. Girly no2 is displaying some real tendencies. And with the quiet questioning brain of Girly no1 at her side…I’m concerned. Have I birthed the world’s next political powerhouse? Hillary and Bill? Or is it more like Hitler and Himmler? I’m really left wondering is my toddler a psycho…
I don’t know why I thought I may birth a psychopath. I assume the thought crossed everyone’s mind at some point during their pregnancy. We always knew that a combination of our personalities have the making of a psycho. Husband’s friendly chirpy facade covering a guilt-free, unemotional detachment from all but his closest inner circle. My pensive, calculated mind and my ability to meticulously plan for every eventuality. These personalities combined with our Hollywood good looks (HA!) you basically have Patrick Bateman of Hampshire complete with 150gsm business cards printed in Helvetica. I started to give it real consideration after I read Lionel Shriver’s We Need To Talk About Kevin, although the parents seem surprised in that book. Husband and I would not be.
Sweetness and light
Girly no1 quickly put our fears to rest as her personality emerged. At nearly 4, she’s a carbon copy of me but untainted by age and life! So she is still sweet and kind. She asks questions (interrogates) like I do but it’s with genuine curiosity and keenness to learn. She’s not yet mastered manipulation and she doesn’t really have a temper, only ever having had one meltdown which shook us all so much I wrote a blog about it. She scores highly on the empathy scale. She can be reduced to tears watching someone else be sad. She cries at films and cuddles her friends to try and make them feel better when they are sad. She gently pats her little chubby hands on their cheeks telling them not to worry (this makes me cry when she does it to me). She is emotional like I am (I cried last week when Dani and Jack were reunited). She re-tells events from her day at nursery welling up when Lauren didn’t want to be her friend but was only joking, or when Seb walked too fast so fell and hurt his knee. She feels their pain. So I don’t think she is the next Hitler, Mussolini or Trump (yep, I just bracketed them all together). Unless really heavily influenced I’m not sure Girly no1 has it in her to do anything horrible.
Girly no2 however is a whole new kettle of fish. She is a charmer. She loves to make you laugh. But she will kiss you with that cute smiley face then slap you and run away. She sucks strangers in, attracting their attention with cutesy giggles, a little lisp and y’s instead of l’s when she talks (Heyo!). Then when someone bends down to chat with her, she flings her head to the side ignoring them. Or she growls and lowers her brow looking out under it like Damien in The Omen. She toys with people’s emotions. She only really likes Mumma, Daddy and her sister. Everyone else is a puppet in her show. As I started to type this she was staring at her sister’s back. After a couple of minutes she suddenly launched herself at her, pushing her with all her might. When no1 didn’t respond satisfactorily she had another think, then tried again using her whole body. It’s disturbing to see an 20-month old plotting to take down her nemesis. But she was relentless and she persevered until eventually she knocked no1 over, catching her off balance. She sat smugly watching her afterwards, looking very pleased with herself. I imagined her making mental notes on angel of trajectory, speed and length of approach. I could almost see her slowly, imperceptibly nodding.
As well as already being a master manipulator, enjoying causing pain and lack of emotion, she shows signs of another psychopathic trait. Lack of remorse. A few days ago, Girly no1 was doing her normal thing of making her baby sister laugh by lying on her wriggling. No2 had been laughing when suddenly she sat bolt upright, reached into her sisters hair and pulled out a huge clump. No1 screamed and cried. No2 watched her for a moment then began to mimic the noises and sounds. No tears though. I stood her up and said look how much she had upset her sister, how she should say sorry etc. She stopped her shouting, looked at me and said “No!” with a little pursed mouth. I was momentarily stunned. I sat her just outside the room facing the baby gate at the top of the stairs. She could still see us and sat there watching me comfort Girly no1. I didn’t think for a moment she would stay there, but she did. After a couple of minutes I went and said “come and say sorry to your sister for hurting her and give her a cuddle”.
I left her again for a couple of minutes. “Are you ready to say sorry now?”
A few more minutes passed. To her credit she didn’t move from the spot I had left her. “Come on,” I said, thinking she’d probably forgotten why she was there in the first place. “You hurt your sister and it made her sad when you pulled her hair. It’s not kind”. Slowly and deliberately she stood up, walked to her sister and cuddled her.
“Aaaaah” she said.
“Say sorry” I gently coaxed.
She stared at me for what felt like a very long time looking back and forth between her sister and I. Eventually she whispered “Sowee”. I didn’t even know she could whisper.
Is My Toddler A Psychopath?
Other psychopathic traits include narcissism (tick), impulsiveness (tick) and lack of responsibility (tick). Tick tick tick. Oh god. In a hot sweaty moment of realisation, I did some research. I discovered that scientists believe that there is a psycho gene. Should we all get tested?! What do you do about that? I stressed out some more. What have we created? What have we inflicted on the world?! What if my mini Hitler influences my kind little fluff headed no1 and then they become the first notorious psycho sister duo in the UK. I’m not sure I’m mentally capable. The good news is that with real nurture, psycho’s can live normal lives and actually live amongst us. Reflecting on it, I actually think we know a few (wondering how many of my friend’s will question whether I’m talking about them!). You just have to be firm and moral. Lots of apologies and taught empathy – Dexter style. We can do this.
Or Maybe Just A Toddler
Of course it might just be that my hilarious little toddler is just that. A toddler. Pushing boundaries, learning about herself and others, learning about cause and affect. Learning how to communicate, influence and negotiate. It might just be that she is a strong mind and a big personality on tiny shoulders. Or I may have birthed the next Hindley. We’ll just have to wait and see.
If you haven’t read this with your tongue in your cheek then I’m afraid you’ve come to the wrong place. My girls are beautiful and kind hearted. If not a bit weird. But then who isn’t?! If you’ve enjoyed it please like and share!
Last night we were sat playing and reading before bedtime when everything went pitch black and silent. After a shocked couple of seconds, the sirens began. Nope, not the air raid sirens of a blitzkrieg but the deafening screams of our toddlers. “Mummy, why is it dark? Daddy, put the TV back on! Mummy, why I can’t see?!” Power cut chaos ensued…
Moments before we were all applauding Girly no2 for climbing on to her Scuttlebug all by herself (big achievement when you’re one!). She did not appreciate being plunged into darkness on her own on the other side of the room. Girly no1 was snuggled into Daddy reading a book but still had an absolute meltdown. Her little three-year-old mind could not get her head around it. Understandable. We’d never given her a lesson on electricity and we’re not very basic campers (our tent has a disco ball in it) as you may remember from a previous post. I peeked through our shutters at the house I normally hate at the bottom of our garden, and for once was comforted by its’ presence. That and the fact it was all dark-windowed. It was just a good old-fashioned power cut.
We snapped into practical mode. “Grab the power cut kit!” I shouted. In my head, as I grabbed said kit from my imagination. Rummaging through boxes, I found torches in the garage and candles from the…oh no, I threw those away in a fit of annoyance when they kept falling out the cupboard and all over the floor. Torches would be fine. Luckily I have a battery fetish (nope, not that kind gutter mind) so we have packs of them in the garage. No2 rescued, everyone armed with a light of some description, we started to answer the onslaught of questions from Girly no1. “Why is it dark? Who turned the TV off? What is electricity? Has Nana stolen our lights? Will my night clock work? How will we find our teeth?” Most answerable, some less so. Ever tried explaining electricity to a 3-year-old? I think I’m going to have to do some sort of teaching qualification. I totally nailed the teeth question though. We strategically placed torches in the bedrooms and bathroom making the rooms look lit up from the hall. Lifting no1 up to check the other houses at 5-minute intervals made bedtime last rather longer than normal. But we cosily put our pj’s on all in the same room and then put both Girlies into bed, promising that Shimmer and Shine would be back to life by the time they woke up.
Netflix and Chill
We made our way downstairs, having left little camping lights in place of the usual night lights. “So what shall we do with our evening?” Husband asked, having established from Twitter that this power cut would last for at least a couple of hours. “Well I need to finish the washing….oh, no….I need to carry on working on the holding pages for That Works For Me….oh, no….” I answered. “Haha!” he laughed, “you can’t do any of those things! You’re going to have to sit and cuddle me and talk to me! Gutted! Let’s snuggle up and watch Netflix on the laptop!” I glanced at him waiting for the penny to drop. “We can tether to a phone!” he declared triumphantly.
“With your 15% of battery phone or my phone with no service?” I asked. “We need to keep at least one phone working in case the power doesn’t come back on and we freeze. In which case, we’ll drive to my Mums.” I pictured us shuffling up to my Mum’s house in the snow with rags for clothes, no shoes and our hands out-stretched in an Oliver Twist-esque manner. Then I remembered it’s 2018, we’re not homeless and we drive a 4×4 that isn’t dependent on electricity. I did ponder over just how much we rely on all things electric though. Phones, TV’s, heating…we can’t even boil water in our house without electricity. Then there is how we spend our time. How do you operate in today’s world without the internet, Sky, Netflix and EE? Can a marriage survive?!
Bizarrely that morning I had made dinner (balsamic chicken) in the slow cooker – something I haven’t done more than three times in the last year. At least we wouldn’t starve. We were down to two rubbish torches but managed to scoop some dark food into our dark bowls and we ate at our dark table. It was actually one of the most romantic meals we have had at home, often opting to eat on our laps in front of the TV at the end of our respectively exhausting days. We talked over our (for once) nice-tasting dinner, and did what any couple would do in these circumstances. Realised how totally unprepared we are for any disaster that would leave us without access to mobiles, supermarkets and takeaways.
We spent the rest of the meal making a plan for what we would in the event of disease outbreak or zombie apocalypse (Husband was nervous about missing the first Walking Dead episode of the season). We decided our safe haven would be Dad’s boat or our friends’ farm (who will thank us later when we arrive armed with Baked Beans and toilet rolls) and decided that we should probably buy a camping stove and some ‘tinned food’ (mmm! Ravioli!). We made each other laugh and remembered why we loved each other, as we often do left alone without children and devices. It was certainly more romantic than our valentines day dinner at the local curry house a week before, which had been prickly, for reasons we still don’t understand. It just happens that way sometimes.
“You know, they say this is why so many babies were born during wartime…the power cuts…” I said glancing at Husband (I would like to use the word ‘seductively’ here but I can’t bring myself to do it. I’m just not very seductive). Even in the near darkness I could see that his eyebrows had lifted. He looked at me hopefully and I smiled back at him. Then, as if by magic, all of the lights pinged back on and everything whirred and beeped back to life. “You best go finish those emails!” I laughed, heading towards the washing machine.
Thanks for stopping by dear reader. If my ramblings continue to make you smile, or you would like to offer me lessons in the art of seduction, then please do comment, like and share. Until next time I bid you adieu!
January is such a weird time. Fresh and hopeful new year resolutions swiftly become cold, depressing disappointments. A short dry, alcohol–free spell followed by a soaking, epic collapse and hangover. Ups and downs. Mine has been no different. No2 is walking (yaaay); no1 was been bitten by a swan and wet herself at the shock (booo); I’ve lost half a stone (yaaay); I climbed up on my kitchen cabinet in a need-chocolate-right-now frenzy (booo); booked a holiday (yaaay), had the car broken into (booo)….this could go on a while….
New Year Resolutions
Fundamentally the New Year is just another number, though this will take me 3 to 5 months to grasp. I like a New Year. My only real issue with is that it’s a year closer to old age. This year, I will be 36. Thirty-bloody-six. How do you even get that old?! I know it’s not old if you’re older than 36 but if you’re not then it seems so old. I’ve always thought 40 is the age at which you start to get old. And here I am, about to hit the downward slope to 40. If my age was being rounded, then I would be 40, not 30. If I achieve something big I won’t be talked about in a “Bright Young Thing” capacity, I’ll be that Bitter Old Mum who wanted to get her own back on someone. As an aside, I totally plan on doing this. I think I’ve got “something big” left in me to do before I get old. I’ll tell you more about that next week though. Watch this space for the reveal of my Grand Plan!
Is Forty just a number?
As well as me getting older, it’s another year older for my babies. Now, I have two toddlers. Or a toddler and a child. What’s the criteria for going from toddler to child? No2 started walking at Christmas time and now follows me round the house like a happy little zombie. She’s so pleased that she can transport two rice cakes in one go, she laughs as she’s walking and does a happy little hum. There’s definitely something to be learnt from these small goals and giant celebrations! No1 (age 3) seems infinitely happier to have a more interactive sister. Admittedly she spent most of yesterday pushing her over and lying flat on top of her as she tried to crawl away. They both laughed a lot the first few times she did it so it became a game. Inevitably though, no1 didn’t know when to stop and it all ended in tears and naughty steps, but it was fun while it lasted. We established over Christmas that no1 has a whole new energy level that we didn’t know existed and is no longer exhausted by a 3-mile walk. Or she is, but then a short post-lunch re-charge leaves her bouncing off the furniture like we’re at Flip Out. On a bright day, it’s really good for us as we get out and do more. So much so that I’m thinking we should maybe get a dog…
These words will make my husband go rigid, his eyes nearly pop out of his head and his balls jump back inside him. I have tried to convince him we should get a dog twice before. Both times it has turned out I have been pregnant. Worry not Husband! I’m definitely not. If I were this would be the most bizarre announcement! We do talk about no3. Should we, shouldn’t we? He’s already 36, I will be soon. Some days I am positive this is a good idea. “Give me twins!” I say, as though he has the power to make this happen. Other days, when I’m cleaning piss out of wellies because No1 didn’t let go of the duck food quickly enough and was distracted by a hat she liked, I think I must be mad. Where would this poor child be in the chaos? Are there enough rice cakes on the planet to keep everyone happy while I deal with no1’s latest disaster? And aren’t they like cocaine for kids? I’m sure you’re not really meant to feed them too many. Other events put me off too. The other day, a screaming match ended in a nosebleed for me because they both wanted to sit on my left knee. My left knee?! It’s not even that great! My left boob, maybe, but my knee? No. It is a conversation though, dear readers. I can’t think of many better ways to throw the towel in on this diet. Of course this blog represents a pretty accurate account of the first year and therefore a deterrent for any more. Certainly within the next 12 months anyway!
So new year, new dreams. We don’t make new year resolutions in this house but we do write down some goals each year. We have about a 70% success rate, which I’m happy with. I must have been pretty pushed when I decided last year that we would all learn Japanese. I don’t even know anyone Japanese. Personally I have a few aims: send more emails to the girls’ email addresses I have set up to give them access to when they’re old enough to understand sentimentality (I have a vision or tears, cuddles, “Mum you’re so amazing”, you know like in the movies); lose 2 stone to get back to wedding weight (standard); stop eating sugar (you’re welcome family); and launch my business (see earlier note on Grand Reveal next week). I have actually made moves on all of my goals already. I am going to see a nutritionist next week. She is also my yoga instructor, and incredibly beautiful, lovely and warm. I have a total girl crush on her. So much so that the first time I spoke to her I got stuck in my own hoody. It was very embarrassing. So now we only talk over email and phone. 2017, err 18, is off to a strong start. I’ll decide on dog or baby, finally name my new business, and either make a permanent home for No1 on the naughty step or just ban her from touching her sister. As long as I stay away from swans and beautiful Yoga instructors, I’ll be fine!
Happy new year everyone! Do let me know about your new year resolutions, I mean, intentions. Even better, how quickly you broke them! All likes and shares very much appreciated (return to Facebook). Namaste 🙏