I am miserable. I can’t shake off the warmth of the sun and the taste of the cocktails from our recent overseas holiday. End of holiday blues. I realise it makes me sound like a wanker. Not everyone gets to go on an overseas holiday. I’ve been back 2 days. It is horribly cold and I want to go back.
The beginning can also be hard. Travelling. We are 6 hours into a late night 8 hour flight. I’m tired. The kids are driving me nuts. The nerves are frayed as we have been delayed and we have an interconnecting flight that is on the verge of leaving without us.
My wife and I book-end the middle 4 seats of row 54. An overly excited 8 year old and an annoyingly fidgety 7 year old sit impatiently sandwiched between us.
The flight we are on has no back of seat screen. The iPads, phones and laptop ran out of battery hours ago. I am close to strangling them. We are usually so prepared when travelling. We bring all the usual gadgets and snacks, paper and pens. But for some reason, like the cocky arrogance of the father of a 3rd child, you think you know it all. That you can just rock up and it will all be fine. It wasn’t. We comparatively nearly missed the birth.
Zak has ransacked the toilet for the small paper cups used for water. He has stalked the aisles for more. He has decided he wants to do cup stacking. Which is a thing. It has kept them both occupied for 25 minutes before it finishes with a punch up, which in turn wakes mum. You may as well have awoken a sleeping dragon. The fire breathing settled them down for another 20 minutes.
Travelling with an 8 year old and a 7 year old is a lot easier than travelling with a baby or a toddler. You can’t really compare the intricacies of nappy changing, bottle feeding and baby settling in a cramped space. We have been through the agony of a baby that cannot settle, the neighbouring passengers that tut at your every move, that try and offer advice. The leaking nappies, spilt breast milk and chucking. The repetitive strain injury of constantly pulling out nappy wipes, making sure the next one is poking through ready for the pulling (there is no time to re-set when one is needed). Accidently blocking the airline toilet and/or sink. Panicking that you are holding up a huge line of people waiting to use the toilet. Convinced if you let go of your child then the massive sucking from the toilet bowl will take your child with it……..mmmmmm, that’s a thought. But no, you realise that this is just a travelling hell that young families go through. There is at least the reward of a holiday on one end.
I look around at the teenagers travelling with their parents. Head phones in. Silent. Probably the one time mum and dad are glad their kids don’t actually want to talk to them. I wonder at what age my boys will just become independent travellers.
Backs of seats are being kicked now. The lady in front has asked twice now for the kicking to stop. If I get asked “when are we there yet” one more time, I’m going to shout “bomb” just so I can get arrested.
They are tired now. They want to sleep. There is only an hour to go before we have to change flights. Please don’t sleep now. It is too late – they sprawl. They cannot get comfortable and are becoming more and more frustrated. Thrashing and flayling their way into a comfortable position. Sleep comes as the Captain announces the decent.
We slap them about like drug addicts trying to awaken them from their stupor. Too big to carry and too tired to care we make them drag themselves up and out. We pull their bags out from the mess of crisps, packaging, paper cups, towels, drink bottles, lolly wrappers, discarded footy cards and broken headphones that litter the floor. Embarrassed by the mess and the obvious lack of manners we have not instilled in them we grab our various carry on bags and duty free alcohol and get the hell out of there.
The transfer and second leg went as painfully as the first. But in a different way. A more tired way. But it went and we got there. And as soon as we were greeted at the hotel by a smiling concierge we knew the worst was over. As we arrived late at night we ate then slept. The first swim washed away any stress that lingered. The sun melted away any memories of home. We were the first of 10 famlies arriving for a group holiday in Thailand.
The fun was about to begin.