We have been to Turkey, which is warm, yellow, blue, with lizards and bats and meaty tomatoes that make you feel briefly teary-eyed when you realise how good they taste alongside sheepy cheese – and you know you might never come back because you have a husband who wants to live in New Zealand where the water is cold and the mosquitoes give you scabs, and where the emotional and literal cost to flying back to exotic locales in Europe is frankly too much to bear.
Mum and dad came with us, and let me just iterate right now, really clearly, that having grandparents along on your holidays is much better than not having them coming along.
Reasons Why Grandparents Should Come On Your Holidays:
- Higher adults:kids ratio, so you can cast your eyes down to read a chapter of Joyce Carol Oates’ We Were The Mulvaneys or Elena Ferrante’s My Brilliant Friend without some kid tripping into the unfenced pool to drown. Or falling out of the treehouse which, to be fair, did happen twice, but it may very well have happened more times, say, if there weren’t so many adult eyeballs regularly looking up and sharing the onerous duty of caring.
- Discipline is shared. My dad says his dad taught him judo, on a farm in the 1940’s in rural Te Kopuru, which I guess might well be true, and so he would do quite stingy arm holds on the kids when we were driving anywhere until they stopped wailing about somebody touching their elbow/shoulder/thigh. It was a triumph of ouchy martial arts-related wizardry.
- You get to go out for dinner in a consecutive date night frenzy and you get home and the kids are asleep and you just say thanks to your mum and dad and no cash leaves your palm.
- Grandparents are more into playing endless games of draughts with the grandchildren than you are and they make up stuff like Olympic Relay Races to entertain the children while you sip gently sweating gin and tonics in the shade.
- *EVERYDAY SEXISM ALERT* You mum helps you do holiday-lite housewifey/cooking stuff while the husband and grandad ignore anything that might be a bit domestic, and they play on their tablets and don’t even clear the table of snorkels and crisp packets while you serve them all tomatoes and sheep’s cheese salads and figs and yogurt again and again. And if they do some dishes or chop some watermelon, they figure they have done their bit for a few days.
- But your dad finds you a seasick tablet on the boat while you are staring into middle distance, pale and sweaty-about-the-forehead, thinking that squeezing out a baby is more pleasant than being on a big stupid boat which has trapped you in a long day of choppy, sloppy, rocking hell, and everywhere you look you see waves and things smell a bit like diesel and you want to vomit but don’t have the energy and everyone talks to you about things like when they were seasick once. But then your dad gets a pill from somewhere, and it works.
Here are some photos to show off a bit.
Grandparents and kids with slushy ice drinks which apparently comes from the first snow, which is stored in huge deep holes in the mountains all year, and then bought out in summer to be crushed with a mallet and stirred with syrup and sold in a cup for about 10p. The traditional syrup which you can buy from families by the side of the road is black molasses which made Ned weep from the horror of it all. This stuff, however, was bright yellow lemon and fluoro pink cordial.
Grandad chucking Barnaby under the ice-cold shower which spouted from a massive tree outside the villa:
Mum and dad and Barnaby swimming at Butterfly Valley. See the boat-o-sickness to the left, and the lovely way my parents are holding on to each other:
When Dads find pills:
When you get babysitting services for free, you look as happy as this:
And you get to read for longer stretches of time. Amazing.
A leech-gatherer for your viewing pleasure:
2000 year old rock tombs:
The water. Now, really.
It’s not all sunshine, bikinis-all-day and turtle-spotting on your annual holidays, though fellas. Casper and I all got hot and developed itchy heat-rash which we scratched and it turned into these embarrassing weeping crater scabs:
All of which kills my post-holiday buzz a little. Otis, meanwhile, got some sort of allergic reaction to insect bites and we spent five hours at A&E yesterday getting his lesions dressed and blood tests. He is now walking about fully bandaged around his middle to stop the weeping open wounds. But, mostly, selfishly, I feel a bit embarrassed about the way my craters are very cigarette-shaped, like instead of basking in the hot sun and scoffing sour cherries, I have spent two weeks self-harming in a bid for attention. As if I needed any more.
Anyway. We are back, and everything is wet in London, and my parents are wearing borrowed raincoats when I had promised them to only bring t-shirts and shorts on their holiday. Because it’s summer, right?