There’s an unspoken understanding between parents on planes: Do whatever the hell it takes to get through. Be it seat swapping, sweet giving, playing peekaboo over a seat, snorting the innards of a sherbet lemon in a vague hope of some legal high or simply accepting that normal rules will not apply for the duration of the flight. This seems to be if your children are aged 1, 10 or 33. If you’ve ever been a parent on an aircraft, you just get it. Then there’s those pesky people that fill up the family-void spaces on a plane: The pre-kidders or the people that made the life-choice to never have the little darlings (is it too late to make this choice?!).
Here’s just some of the questions and comments I would like to put to the pre-kidders who occupied 34A and 34B on our recent travels…
For the last week or so, people have kindly been questioning if I’m looking forward to our impending travels, as tomorrow is the day we set off on our first ever family holiday as a septet. Whilst I would usually smile and reply congenially, I’ve found myself being perhaps overly honest with a reply of “NO, I’m fucking dreading it.”. I can’t help but think my answer, along with this blog, is some sort of cry for help – a desire to “talk it out”, to make it all better?!
I’m not sure what part of getting up at 5am with 5 ridiculously excited boys, herding them through Gatwick Airport amidst half-term madness, boarding a jet propelled metal tube rammed with potential onlookers and juggling a toddler on my lap in my solo seat for 3.5 hours, is supposed to be something to look forward to. It’s bad enough trying to contain them in our own home, with plenty of room for movement, a fridge full of food and surrounded by their creature comforts – let alone chucking them to 30k feet with a 250 strong audience and restricted personal space.
Last weekend saw me left alone with the boys at home, as Mr Only Girl fled the scene on a work trip – this mini-(anti)-break allowed me some time to fully appreciate the boy-ness that plays out in front of me on a daily basis, but is usually osmosed by Mr Only Girl, so skips past my girly gaze.
I grew up as an only child, with a single mum and attended an all-girls school – my life was officially girly. It was as girly as they came, think fake tan, beauty pageants, high heels and mother/daughter shopping trips galore. Then, in 2006, my life changed – there was nothing that could prepare me for a life with boys – things I never knew existed are now common place in my life. Today, I praise those dirty, noisey little blues for giving me a re-education. They’ve brought endless things into my life that I never really needed, don’t really want – but oddly, really enjoy. Here’s just a few…
Friday just gone saw the annual Fun Run at the boys’ primary school where for the past 5 years (and probably long before our boys attended) has been an obligatory, competitive, cross-country style race. First, second and third, in each year group were congratulated with medals and a certificate handed out in next week’s assembly to rapturous applause from their peers. The “fun” aspect came from the optional fancy dress, however, coming from a sporting (read: dangerously competitive) family our boys always opted out of the “fun” part, choosing instead to do their best to win an “actual medal”. Imagine their disgust this year. after 3 weeks of self-inflicted training, when the PTA email thudded into my inbox informing my mini-competitors that this year’s event wasn’t really a race – everyone would be given a medal for taking part and that they would have to drag a “buddy” from another year group round some shin-bruising obstacles!
Has the world gone mad?!?!
As the wedding invites start rolling in, who am I kidding – I don’t have THAT many friends. Ok, so, as the two wedding invites I’ve received stare at me from the fridge door, the glimmer of a full day and night, sans kids, glistens like a beacon of parental hope on the childcare horizon. I’ll be dressed like a grown up for a full day, possibly wear heels (the jury’s still out on my heel walking abilities) and can get stuck into some cheap cava like only a mother who’s left her kids with grandparents for 24 hrs can.
But it only occurred to me, halfway through chatting to a child-free friend getting hitched this summer, that the debate whether to allow kids or not to their nuptials was a fiercely roaring moral dilemma. Kid-free friends – let me put your mind at rest – don’t invite my kids! Please! In my opinion, weddings are no places for children under the age of 15 – after this age, the free food, possibility of a sip (or two) of aforementioned cheap plonk and the chance of a cheeky snog with a young relative of the bridal family, are all good reasons to be in attendance.
Still not convinced? Here’s just some of the reasons you shouldn’t invite my kids…