Monthly Archives: August 2014

Wiping the face of a furious ferret made of jelly


Going on holiday. I have blogged about this topic before, but as anyone who knows me will testify, repeating myself until someone – not necessarily me – feels distinctly nauseous is not uncommon.

This summer, as every summer previously with kids, we have stayed in this country. A UKation, as absolutely no one ever refers to it. Mainly, because the thought of getting my 2 year old to sit still on  a plane makes me both simultaneously laugh hysterically and want to chew my own lips off in anticipation of the horror of it. We simply couldn’t afford the lawsuits of a planeful of people whose eardrums have exploded due to being subjected to three hours of high-pitched screaming. And let’s not even consider the fact that he could happily spend hours repeating “poo poo bum bum boobies” at the top of his voice whilst giggling manically, or his ability to throw any object that is not bolted down at great velocity at least twenty foot in any direction. I can see it now: on go a hundred happy holiday makers. Off come a hundred gibbering wrecks, clawing at their own eyeballs as they climb over each other frantically whilst screaming ‘get me away from that child of Beelzebub’.

However, having a UKation (I am going to keep repeating that word until I see it in the OED, so get used to it) brings it own unique challenges. Packing, for a start. A week in this country in August means that you can leave behind the snow boots, but pretty much everything else needs to be packed. Shorts and sun cream. Wellies and rain coats. And inevitably, holiday packing brings out the siege mentality in me: I pack as if we are spending a year marooned on a desert island. Emergency Calpol.  Piriton (because once, three years ago, one of them needed a dose). Plasters. Extra clothes. Extra pants. Bedtime books (a selection of). Some cereal, in case our destination town with several supermarkets nearby is suddenly hit with a plague of Shreddie-eating locusts. And so it goes on, the stuff piling up by the front door until we need crampons and a safety harness to scale it in order to leave the house. Might as well pack the climbing gear, whilst we’re at it. Well, you never know.

But wherever we go, there is another holiday challenge that will be with us: ice creams. Eating ice cream is not just on my sons’ holiday agendas, it IS their agenda. Given half a chance, they would spend their days with a 99 in each hand whilst licking a scoop of ice cream from a bowl in their laps. I hate ice cream. No, let me rephrase that. I love ice cream. I just don’t like my kids eating it, particularly the 2 year old. It is just so… labour intensive. We are walking along, and they spy an ice cream van. So, we acquiesce to their pleas and all traipse over to the sweaty man trapped in the metal box on wheels. In order to facilitate the consumption of an ice cream by a 2 year old, it requires:

  • Locating somewhere to sit, close by. Do not ask a 2 year old to walk and eat an ice cream. As soon as his tongue starts a licking motion, all other bodily functions shut down. His legs don’t work properly, he can’t see what is right in front of him (this may have something to do with his face being obscured by a bloody great ice cream) and he moves forward so slowly that the spacetime continuum begins to reverse.
  • At least half a packet of wet wipes. There is nowhere that ice creams drips cannot reach.
  • A volunteer licker to stem the tide of molten ice cream as it runs down the cone and races to his elbow.
  • The patience of a saint not to scream when the first thing he does when given his ice cream is to bite the bottom off the cone. Again. What he then basically is holding is a funnel that delivers runny ice cream directly onto his lap.
  • A quick lesson in the structural properties of ice cream when subjected to gravity. Because eating just one side of a Mr Whippy is just blatant stupidity.
  • A head clamp, to hold his head still whilst I try and mop up the third of the ice cream that didn’t quite make it into his cake hole. It is a bit like trying to wipe the face of a furious ferret made of jelly.
  • A full change of clothes. For anyone who had the misfortune to come within six foot of him.


And so we returned from our UKation, suitcases full of ice-cream stained clothes, exhausted, and with the car axles groaning under the weight of all the extra baggage we transported home (I have no idea what this extra baggage is, but what fitted quite snugly on the way had to be crammed, pushed, squeezed and hammered into every car crevice to get it to fit for the return journey).
Friends ask if I had a nice holiday, and I pause. It’s not that I didn’t have a good time, but with two small children, the word ‘holiday’ is not really representative of the experience. We need something a little less… relaxing sounding. Like… Fatigueday. Or Knackereday. “Are you off on holiday this year?” “No, we’ve booked a Knackereday though. A UKation, actually.”

The sound of my life force dripping out of every orifice

The summer holidays. Or ‘an extended period of leisure and recreation’, according to one online dictionary. Funny. No, stop, really, my sides hurt. Actually, that may well be down to wine-induced kidney ache, but I digress.

Six and a half weeks. Forty five days. I am not saying I am counting them down, but there are tally marks being scratched into the wall next to my bed. However, my five year old is not spending the whole time at home. Good god, no. I am not clinically insane. I have traded insanity for an overdraft, as we shell out for activity camps, tennis camps, football camps… anything to a) get him out of the house for a large proportion of the day and b) wear him out.

But I have conceded a couple of weeks where nothing official is planned, and so I am desperately trading children back and forth in a series of play dates. At times, I feel I should be running a clocking in and out system next to our front door just so that I can keep track.

Which is therefore why I have spent more time than strictly necessary (or desired) in the company of five year old boys. It has not been altogether an edifying experience, it has to be said. And as I collapse into bed of an evening, exhausted and with barely the strength to switch my Kindle on, my brain can’t help itself but to subject me to some kind of edited highlights package…

  • Whilst eating lunch, a boy asking my son if he want to see his winkle, to which my son nods enthusiastically and leans over to get a better view.
  • A brief monologue from a boy as to why kissing his brother does not make him gay, but kissing my son would. At this juncture, I offer him another piece of garlic bread and hope he does not suggest a practical demonstration. Not until we have finished our salmon pasta, at least.
  • Repeated exclamations of “BOO-YA!” at any given opportunity. I have no idea where this delightful turn of triumphalist phrase comes from, and I am sure, neither do they.
  • Entering my son’s bedroom to be confronted by three boys, stark bloody naked, bouncing up and down on the bunk bed. My first thought is, surprisingly: ‘if they knew how cheap that bed was, they would not be doing that’, swiftly followed by ‘I am not sure I am liking this CBeebies reinterpretation of Brokeback mountain’.
  • The look of astonishment, then horror, on a boy’s face when I tell him we don’t watch television during the day. To which he replies ‘why?’ and I fail miserably to provide a convincing response. Fast forward twenty minutes, after prolonged yelling and trashing of play room, and I am reconsidering the error of my ways.
  • Repeated requests from any house guest under four foot to get naked.
  • The sound of a five kilogram box of assorted Lego being tipped out onto the floor. Again.
  • The sound of my life force dripping out of every orifice as there is yet another argument over who can jump the highest.
  • Interrupting an utterly hilarious game of ‘let’s throw Lego bricks out of the window’. Well, to clarify, only two out of three of us found this amusing.
  • The most utterances of ‘bum’, ‘bottom’ and ‘willy’ I have ever encountered. And I hang out with people who say these words a lot.

Well, the dictionary got one bit right about the definition of summer holiday: it is an extended period. We are only on week three, and as I squint hard into the future, I still can’t see the end of the bloody summer holiday tunnel. Oh, hang on… I can see a chink of light… oh, my mistake, it’s just the sunlight reflecting off the puddle of orange squash that has mysteriously appeared on the lounge floor. BOO YA!