I love a good holiday, I would go as far as to say that I’m a bastard for a good holiday, if I could turn life into one big holiday, and I am working on it, then I would. The chance to step out of the 9-5 trudge and remember what it’s like to spend an evening in a state of deep relaxation rather than deep panic is pure unadulterated bliss. I am a terrible person to be around in the run up to a holiday, and I have a run up that would put the majority of Australian fast bowlers to shame, I will busily tell anyone and everyone, no matter how disinterested, all of the luxuries and indulgences that I am about to embark upon; “Did I mention there is a roll top bath on the balcony overlooking the bay? No? Well there is – rumour has it the local dolphin pod put on quite a show for your viewing pleasure although I will probably be too far into a state of deep relaxation from the massage that’s duly being administered to even notice the needy little attention seekers”.
This was to be our first holiday of any length with our plus one. After toying with Thailand and musing over Malaysia we decided that packing up our car full of Max’s creature comforts might be the better bet – I fully subscribe to the happy toddler = happy parent school of thought. Saving a bit on flights made it all the easier to justify splurging a little on a stunning property in Wye River on Victoria’s Great Ocean Road. I could picture me and The Boy constructing elaborate multi-tiered sand castles, perhaps indulging in a little father/son beach cricket, who knows perhaps he has inherited his Dad’s legendary surfing genes? Of course he would be going to bed for his usual 3 hour Siesta, did someone say G&T’o’clock? And night times would be sure to serve up no little romance between husband and wife. In short this was to be like any other holiday with the addition of sand castles.
We returned home yesterday after two long weeks, wondering what had just happened to us. I think on Day 4 I was quoted asking “will holidays ever be holidays again?” The problem was, not wanting to put too finer point on it, Max. Try as I may to explain he just couldn’t quite grasp the whole concept of a holiday. He had meticulously planned the onset of his terrible two’s, not such a myth after all, to coincide with my terrific two’s. Of course I can’t lay all the blame squarely at Max’s feet, don’t get me wrong I will try to, but there were some fairly fundamental parenting errors of judgement on our part that led to our lovely little family break, turning into a lovely little family breakdown.
What sort of buffoons would choose their annual holiday, their one chance of the year to switch off and unwind, to introduce their recently turned 2-year-old toddler to the joys of a “big boys bed” – and that would be us. The big boys bed that lacked the comforting prison cell-like confinement of a cot and became the bain of our fortnight. No sooner had wine been poured and Barry White started to work his magic than we heard the pitter patter of tiny feet, “it’s probably just a koala bear with a thirst for adventure. Hang on a minute that koala bear seems to be staring at us through the crack in the door, the dirty little perv”. Fancy that in a matter of moments Max has put two and two together and worked out that no bars = no boundaries. And so for two weeks the little oasis in our day that was meant to have us gently sighing “aaaaahhh” in fact had us screaming “aaaaahhhh” – the spelling is the same but the feeling is quite far removed. One word, or is it two? PORTACOT!
I have a soft spot for the Great Ocean Road, I love it in winter when it’s at its powerful most majestic best, I love it in summer when it all but says come and frolic in my soothing waters and get yourself an ice cream for afters you deserve it. I love every little twist in the road and look forward to seeing what subtle nuances the next turn might throw up. The only thing throwing up was my son. Day trips had been meticulously planned with military precision, a waterfall one day, a berry farm the next and lots of excursions to neighbouring bays – gone, literally minutes of planning down the drain. Wye River is a lovely little place but it’s also 30 stomach churning minutes to the next lovely little place. And so for two weeks we rotated between beach and park, not so bad I thought to myself, we can make this work.
It turns out Max does not care much for the beach, worryingly hysterical near the sea and deeply frustrated by the sand, it did not look too promising. I tried to lure him into life with a multi-tiered sand castle complete with moat, feather flag, stone windows and some abstract seaweed art for the walls but he stroppily trampled on it. I tried the fatherly approach of forcing him against his will into the sea but his force was greater than mine. I encouraged him to throw sand at me in the hope it might flick his seaside switch, but nothing, only a look of shame, pity and embarrassment, with a sprinkling of contempt. So park it was, two weeks, two long weeks at a sub standard park, why would you even bother to build a park with only 2 swings?
To make matters worse, far, far worse, like really worse, the usually well oiled parenting machine that is Mr and Mrs Under was beginning to feel the strain. I tentatively pointed out he doesn’t usually behave this way when it’s just me, she responded by flashing me a death stare, the kind that ensures that the nest thing to leave your mouth comes in the form of a grovelling apology. She suggested I had been undermining her authority, I suggested she had no authority in the first place, I got a well deserved second serve of the death stare. I can’t be certain but I think I saw Max in the background muttering something about “love it when a plan comes together”. The lion suit did give us a good roar though, sorry, again.
The little bit of me time that I managed to scavenge was spent thrashing around in the sea looking every inch the blubbery injured seal and convincing myself over and over that the shadow of my board was in fact a 3 metre shark with big, sharp teeth, all the while the infamous Jaws tune providing a chilling backdrop in my own head. All these factors combined with a total lack of actual surfing ability were not conducive to good surfing. I did however get to use words like gnarly and stoked, which is always a pleasure.
I believed I was signing up to the 3 S’s, Sun, Sea and Sand; instead I was dealt Screaming, Stress and Sickness.
Great to be back and sharing as always with essentiallyjess. Happy 2013 everyone.