We’re all going on a summer holiday… and I hate my children. For a few seconds, okay many minutes, I actually owed this thought.
That can happen on the Road to Hell, which this time round was the M6, on a Friday in stop start traffic.
Four young boys and five hours of family confinement in a VW Sharan can do this to a person.
It seems three days of holiday is not enough recovery time between the outbound and homebound journey.
You’d think after ten years of parenting I would know this. Yet against all the odds I am still a glass is half full type when it comes to the travelling bit of a holiday.
For me it is an integral part of the trip with the adventure beginning the minute the key turns in the ignition.
Quality soundtracks at the ready. Favourite treats a plenty and the chance to talk to your spouse when his eyes are open.
Yes, family memories, old and new traditions, these are all created on road trips.
That a favourite tune might soak into my offsprings subconscious, transporting them in a few notes back to a family moment in time absolutely delights me.
In our car gang, alongside the usual I Spy. What Animal Am I? This Road Leads To Where? game (with pigeon badge points for correct answers) we have the Tractor game. One point for spotting a tractor, two points if it’s moving. It always ends in competitive tears but fills at least two hours of a long journey.
I also play “That’s it, nobody say ANOTHER word for FIVE minutes.” If only family saloon cars came with limo style windows. One button and the soundproof glass comes up sealing the adults off from their kids. I’d sell a kidney for that button.
Why we’ve avoided the use of iPads or other technical distractions, I’m not sure. I guess the fact we’ve had four boys close in age hints at a high level of masochism.
But I digress.
Back to the Road to Hell.
Now there were no mechanical break downs, no standing on the hard shoulder in heavy rain. Neither was there any covering all the occupants with projectile vomit. Been there, done that and the t-shirt still smells.
No, this latest parental test was entitled 100% incompatible sibling personalities in an enclosed space.
Despite our journey beginning two hours after our 11am departure plan, both myself and Sport Billy were in happy, positive moods.
Yey! Sing, “We’re all going on a summer holiday, no more working for a day or two“.
But less than 500 meters from our front door, the first big rollocking was out of the bag. Definitely a new family record.
Now some would say that messing with the hierarchical car seating placement is an instant admission of failure. That it could potentially open up a whole new can of worms. But, by moving Ratbag 1(10yr) to the front seat with me in the middle, sandwiched between between Ratbag 3 (7yr) and Ratbag 4 (4yr) the “he looked at me, breathed on me, smiled at me, pinched me” monologues were cut in an instant.
The bickering stopped for a short while although it did allow Ratbag 4 to engage me in his hot new topic of 101 Freak Ways To Die.
“Mummy. If you climb up the side of a house and then fell from the roof, onto concrete, you could die.”
“Yes, that’s correct.”
“And Mummy, if you got hit by a swinging branch, you could die”.
“Yes, if you were really unlucky”.
“And Mummy, if you stood in a hot fire, you could die”.
“And Mummy, if you eat yellow flowers, you could die”.
I called time out around the twentieth “you could die” fact and pondered whether he’ll become a risk assessment analyst or hit the news headlines.
Ratbag 2 (9yr) won best child of the journey award despite thinking it’s fine to play volleyball in a moving car.
Amazingly he was admonished by his little brother declaring “If you play with a football in the car, you could die”.
Phew. Risk analyst.
Umpteeen “I’ll pull over and stop the car” warnings later plus three more HUGE rollockings and we were almost home.
All that remained was for the eldest to pee into a bottle. Sport Billy refused to stop just twenty three minutes after the last toilet break. (It’s a man thing.)
3/4 of a 500ml bottle later and we had to admit (through our first genuine laughter of the holiday), that he really wasn’t being a drama queen when he declared through hot tears that he was bursting.
Memories, magical and deeply scarred are made on holiday car journeys.