Wednesday, 6 June 2012

A Perpetual Holiday

When did going on holiday become such a chore?  Actually I can pinpoint the exact time.  It was the point at which we had our first child and suddenly the amount of stuff and junk that we had to try to fit into the car expanded exponentially.  From being a couple who packed fairly lightly we turned into a family for whom the kitchen sink just wasn’t enough.  If we haven’t got all the kitchen cupboards and the bread bin then we haven’t been trying hard enough.  
The last time that we went on holiday was to the Lake District for a long weekend.  Just a weekend.  Three nights, that’s it.  This weekend required the whole of the boot of the car to be filled with two suitcases and three other bags of varying sizes and shapes.  Then the shelf which covers the boot was filled with clothes and things that could lie flat.  Then the back seat was filled with some other bags, one of which, admittedly was someone else’s which I had cavalierly agreed to take, never imagining for a moment that a weekend trip would have the potential to weigh the car down so much as to prevent it from crossing certain, less sturdy, bridges.

 This just left N’s seat, the footwells and my wife’s lap  These were duly filled with a toddler, a pushchair, some more bags and a lasagne (it’s best not to ask.)  This all required packing and repacking to fit the extra things which had not managed to find their way to the pile the first time round.  This, however, wasn’t the hard part. 

Let’s imagine that you are a toddler.  The house is your territory and within that area you expect, nay demand, total obedience and free rein.  Suddenly, within your fiefdom you discover cases, and bags, and boxes, and a lasagne.  Is it not your duty to examine?  To explore this Garden of Earthly Delights, this Field of Dreams?  (You hadn’t realised that Kevin Costner should be known as the Hieronymus Bosch of the silver screen had you?)  To establish if the contents pose any sort of threat to your absolute authority?  Thus begins a process of total demolition.  Clothes find themselves being removed from the bag and scattered to the four winds.  Toiletries are of particular value in your economy and so need to be guarded with your life.  And then there are the rare items, keys in the pocket of one of the bags, books in another before the ultimate prize is discovered, a wallet.  This requires particularly careful handling with all the contents being removed individually and separated from each other to ensure that they do not collude against you.  Once this is done you can sit back in contentment and wait for your already slightly frazzled parents to find you. 

We have found that it is impossible to keep our child away from the luggage which is waiting to be packed.  We can put it all in a separate room with the door closed and she’ll find a way in, you can take her away and try to smuggle the items past, but she always knows and demands that you pay a toll, which usually consists of items out of the cases,  for trying to move your goods within her borders.  There seems no way around it.  At some point she will manage to be involved in the packing, and then all of the neat piles and ordered cases will become a ruined heap.  At which point you succumb to the inevitable and realise that you may as well just hurl everything in and sort it out at the other end.

Which brings us seamlessly to the other end.  The point when you arrive at  your destination, in the case of our trip to the Lakes some 5 hours after leaving, only to spend the next five hours playing the hilarious game of, where do you think that all the things we thought we had packed are now?  I have occasionally thought that perhaps we should just forego the journeying and play this game from the comfort of our own homes, just pack things, leave the room and then guess exactly how much will be left in the case when you go back.  This is also fun because you can marvel at how your child will make a bee-line for the very bottom case, not realising that this means they will spend the next twenty minutes trying to battle their way out of the case mountain they just upended on themselves. 

So it turns out holidays can be fun with a child, just not in the way that you might have expected, and just so long as you are happy to do without the toothpaste after all.

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