Of course I can do the school run!!

It was Tuesday morning and the alarm woke me up at 06.00 (am).  My God!  It was still dark outside and it was still raining – nothing had changed since I went to bed in regards to the weather.  As for me, I was still as tired as the night before, and my looks hadn’t changed for the better either.

It was the morning of my son’s grommets surgery.  My daughter had had her grommets surgery last week, so we somewhat knew what to expect:

  1. Stuck all day in the hospital
  2. Starving child
  3. Staff not knowing what was happening
  4. Starving child
  5. Hours of fun, sitting on a shitty chair
  6. Starving child

My wife was meant to bring him to the hospital at 07.30 (am), so she had to get going earlier than usual.  Unfortunately, she sleeps very well and it can be VERY difficult to get her back to this World.  The way she was breathing and snorring, I would say she was hovering in between Worlds – completly zen and relaxed.  From the high nasal pitch, probably Narnia.  There was no hope in hell of waking her up.

Finally, after a few kicks to the kidneys, an old Steven Seagal trick, I got her back from Narnia and she moved like a zombie to the bathroom for a quick shower.

Our son is more like me. We are both up and running quickly.  The adrenaline was pumping and he was ready for a day of surgery.  He had no idea what he was getting himself into.  The poor thing hadn’t eaten since the previous evening at 19.00 (7 pm), and he was not allowed to eat at all. The nurses in hospital would feel his wrath quickly, if there were any long delays.

My wife left the house with our son, who later (according to my wife) turns into a mum’s worst nightmare; screaming and poohing all over in the hospital toilet. At least, she sent me a text asking to bring clean clothes, so something bad must have happened.

Anyway, as you know, I love my wife and family and I’m a great dad.  So, I’d taken the morning off work to help out.  It would be my second time (in 18 months) to bring our daughter to school, so this was still very new to both of us and also exciting.  Keep in mind, I trust my daughter, because she is 5 years old and she knows what is best for her (see “Horseback Riding” story). So, it was bound to be an interesting morning.

Our daughter wakes up just as “quickly” as my wife. So, getting her to eat breakfast, get dressed and her teeth brushed was challenging, especially since she was still asleep.

I made her lunch, a sandwich she designed herself. I hoped she would like it.  I’m not too sure how nice a a nutella and cheese sandwich, sprinkled with cornflakes would be!  But, she is 5 and she knows what she wants.

Because my wife took the car to the hosiptal, and my daughter doesn’t have a bike helmet for the scooter, we decided to walk.  My daughter wanted to bring Angel, as she is very easy to walk with.

We put on the wellies, rain coat and bag pack and headed off to her school.  It would probably take 10-15 minutes by car, so it shouldn’t take no more than 30 minutes walking.  My daughter was ensuring me that it wouldn’t be a problem and that she had done this several times with Mummy.  OK then!

It wasn’t raining when we set off, but I had (based on skills learned by watching Ray Meare’s TV series) predicted it would start to lash later that morning.  I didn’t start to rain until I was walking back.  We walked at a normal speed. I had calculated the route to take 28 minutes, which would leave us with 2 minutes to spare, as her class starts at 08.50.

At 08.49 I texted my wife, just to double check when school starts, as we were still a bit away from the school.  The last mile to school was the hardest for all three of us.

  • Angel because she had had a stroke about 4 weeks ago and she needed to be gradually trained up again, but exercise should be good for her, right?
  • Our daughter because I had taken the route we would drive by car, meaning it was a mile longer than expected, but she is 5 year old and she is perfectly capable
  • Me because my body was (and is) NOT designed for exercise and I haven’t done much exercise since the kids were born, but I had to start exercising at some stage…

So, after walking for almost 40 minutes, I was dragging the dog and kid behind me the last 200 meters, much to the amusement of fellow parents and the school patrol.  My daughter at one point asked if she could open her jacket, as she was sticky from sweat, but I thought it was too cold and wet to do so, and said no.

Finally, we opened the door to the school, walking slowly towards her classroom – only 7 minutes late.  Of all people, who did we bump into – literally?  The school principal.  We were caught late, in the hallway, by the principal.  She looked at us, both sweaty and exhausted, and said good morning.  She even knew my daughter’s name.  I hope I didn’t get my daughter into trouble.  So, I helped my daughter with getting her jacket off and pushed her into the class, and gave the teacher an apologetic face.  The teacher stared at our daughter as she stood in the classroom with red cheecks, sweaty patches under the armpits and about to collapse.  I wonder what was on the teacher’s mind.

Now, all I had to do was to walk back with Angel, get dressed for work and head to the hospital to provide some moral support to my wife and son.

At this point, Angel had started to walk slowly – extremely slowly.  Suddenly she stopped and I spun around, afraid that she had passed out.  But no, she had to pooh!  Remember, this was morning rush hour, so the road was packed with queueing cars, all looking at me and my dog doing it’s business!  To my fear, Angel had decided to pooh in the middle of the road.   Aaargghhhhh, the horror, fear and embarrasment.
…thankfully I had brought plastic bags, just in case.  I could almost hear the drivers clap as I scooped up the pooh with the bag, feeling the warmth on my fingers through the plastic.  It’s unbelievable what we dog owners sacrifice to keep the environment free of dog poohs. My dignity was at stake here.  Now, all I needed was a bin, but the nearest was 0.5 mile away, meaning I had to carry the little bundle of joy a bit further, swinging in my hand following the rhythm of my walk.  By the way, Angel is a Bernese Mountain dog, so it was a decent size pooh, not easy to hide or carry – I just hoped the bag would last that long.

We finally arrived back at the house, soaked and exhausted.  I had to sit down for a few minutes.  I stripped down, which might be a horrible image for some readers, but the sweat was rolling off me.  I’m getting too old for this shit!

I’m sure there was a much faster way to school, by foot, and according to my wife, there was.  The other route, which nobody told me about (and I didn’t ask about either) until after the event had taken place, only takes 20-25 minutes.

I finally left the house and headed to the hospital.  Here I was greeted by my exhausted wife and starving son.  It was at this point 10.15 (am) and he still hadn’t been seen by the doctors.  It turned out that they had misplaced my son’s medical chart, meaning that they couldn’t do surgery on him.  We were getting closer to an apocalyptic event, as my son hadn’t eaten for more than 16 hours, so something had to happen…and quickly.  I could even see bite marks on most of the furniture and toys in the room, but  luckily for the staff, he was getting low on energy.  Thankfully they located his file.

I must admit, I was somewhat worried that they could loose a file, when they knew he was scheduled for surgery a year in advance.  What else do they loose in the hospital?  Actually, I don’t want to know the answer to that question.

He was rolled into the operation theatre (OT) at 11.40.  It was my wife’s turn to support our son, while the nurses tried to put him to sleep with a mask.  A mask?  How naive!  My son fought with tooth and nail not to get covered by the mask, but he finally surrendered – I guess not having eaten for 18 hours takes its toll.  As my wife emerged from the OT, I spotted the red upper lip, which indicates that she was about to cry.  Now she knows what I felt like, when our daughter had cleft palette surgery and I had to support her – not nice.

Our son emerged from Neverland 45 minutes later, fairly pissed off and tired, but most of all very hungry.  The nurse kindly gave him 1 juice, but it took 3 to calm him down.  Then he downed 3 yogurts, 2 bananas and a bag of biscuits – it has to be said that he didn’t want to eat by himself, so we had to assist him, holding the DVD player in one hand and the food in the other.  If you tipped the DVD player slightly, so he couldn’t see the screen, he would let you know quickly either by screaming of throwing a bisquit at you.
…ah, the joys of being a loving and supportive parent.

So, that was the morning gone, now what?  Well, I had to go to work and my wife had to head home once he was discharged.  She was wrecked at this stage and she couldn’t find the parking ticket, so she could pay and leave.  From what I’ve seen since, most of the damage to the interior of the car was caused by punches and biting.  Thankfully she found the ticket in her wallet and made it home, leaving the exterior intact.

It’s funnny, we had been waiting for our kids to get the grommets done for months, and then they get scheduled to be done within 1 week of each other, in two different hospitals.  At least it is done now, and the kids still love us – phew!

It’s not fair dad!!

My daughter, I love her to bits, but she can sometimes drive me up the wall.  She’s suffering from pre-teenage syndrome, which causes parents and child to have unnecessary arguments about eating food that’s served and going to bed – my daughter is only 5 years old!

In her early days, she would do as she was told, no questions asked.  Now, she will question every task we as parents give her or decisions that affect her civil rights such as bed time, brushing teeth, putting on pyjamas,  put on her seat belt…the list goes on.

So, yesterday evening, we were having food that I made.  I would consider myself as a decent cook, not like Jamie Oliver or Gordon Ramsay, but I can cook a mean roast and make tasty soups.

A portion of homemade mushroom soup was served to all of us and 3 out of 4 started to eat – good sign.  However, my daughter was in a chatty mood and was talking about anything and everything.  We normally don’t mind and find it amusing talking to our daughter about Global warming, recession, the Universe and Charlie Brown (her horse at horseback riding).

But, we still want to make sure the kids get food before bedtime.  As parents, you gently remind your child to eat the food and you also have to set some boundaries and rules, e.g. “If you don’t eat your food in the next 10 minutes (when the long arm on the clock is pointing at 10), then you are going to bed“.  She fully understood this, as she immediately started to question which time zone and whether it was 10 past 7, 8 or 9?
– smart ass kid

40 minutes into her soup, nice and cold at this stage, I gave her, her final warning.  3 minutes later we marched off to bed.  This did NOT impress her at all.  Whatever she could grab on the way upstairs, holding on to, was grabbed.  You can still spot the claw marks on the walls.  Calmly, I instructed her to get ready for bed, brush her teeth and put on her pyjamas.  Through tears and blabbering (which I can only assume were some ancient Maya curses she learned from her mum), she finally finished up and went into bed.  No goodnight kiss for daddy tonight.

My wife arrived upstairs shortly after she was in bed, wanting to explain to our daughter why she had been put to bed without finishing daddy’s wonderful mushroom soup.  Both of them like to discuss things, so they lay in my daughters bed for the next 20 minutes, discussing what happened at the dinner table.  It soon emerged that my daughter was disappointed with my wife, for forcing her upstairs – she wasn’t upset with me, but blamed my wife, for making dad do what he did.  And, she by the way didn’t like my delicious mushroom soup – I was devastated.

She, my daughter that is, even went as far as having a peaceful Gandhi moment, refusing to fall asleep until she got some food.  No screaming, crying or other actions to get her point across, just sitting there staring at her teddy, looking for sympathy.  Unfortunately this protest backfired, as she fell asleep within 10 minutes of protesting, while hugging Nana (her teddy bear).

Anyway, happy days.  My daughter still loves me – sorry love.

Goodnight my daughter, and thanks for bursting my bubble and not joining Gordon Ramsay’s “The F Word” competition.

Your kid goes under the knife

Let’s be honest, going into surgery is one of the things on my NOT to-do list.  I pass out when I see my own blood after squeezing a zit, so you can imagine how I am with needles and hospitals.  The weird thing is, I have no problems helping people if they’ve fallen and are bleeding, but if you try to stick a needle into my wife or children, then I’ll get dizzy and unwell.  Watching horror movies doesn’t bother me either, I actually find the amusing – which in turn scares my wife for some reason.

Some examples of up-close (in your face) experiences that almost caused me to slip into Neverland.

  • When my daughter was being born, the midwife asked me if I wanted to watch – what for?  I had a quick peak, but quickly retreated and nearly slipped in some goo on the floor.  No wonder the poor woman was in pain; lemon and melon comes to mind.  For God’s sake, my wife was squeezing my hand so hard that I’m still having difficulties holding a pen 5 years later.
  • When my son was born, by C-section, the surgeon again asked the weirdest question on the planet, “do you want to watch a bit?”.  Why would I?  My wife was being pulled left, right, up and down to get my son out (C-section is not the normal out for babies I might add), not something that I want to watch up close or I would have traumas the rest of my life.
  • One of the junior doctors had to take a blood sample from both my newborn children, both times, and I nearly punched him for hurting and cutting my children, causing unnecessary pain on my kid.  He must have sensed my inner Riddick (Vin Diesel in “Pitch Black”) because he did the procedure very carefully and ran off.  I’m sure most parents feel this way too, right?
  • When I was admitted to hospital for a few hours observation a few months ago, for a minor throat infection (man flu according to my wife), I nearly passed out when the nurse inserted the needle into my arm.  She actually asked if was unwell!!  Was she for real, asking that question?  Of course I wasn’t well, but I think I managed to smile at her anyway while slowly sliding off the bed, unconscious.

Hospitals, needles and surgery is on my fear list.  There, I admit it.  I turn into a blabbering fool, start to drool and faint when confronted with the Angel factory.

But, there’s something else that absolutely breaks my heart, and that is giving my children anaesthetics before going into surgery.

The first time this happened was when my daughter had to have cleft palette surgery.  For those who don’t know what that is.  In my daughter’s case, it means that the soft part (skin, veins and muscles) of the palette isn’t connected, leaving her with a hole instead of a palette.  Nothing serious, but it had to be fixed of course.
For the record, my wife is fully aware of my hospital and blood/needle phobia.  On top of that, we had timed our second pregnancy so well, that my wife was not allowed into the operating room (OR) when my daughter’s surgery was scheduled, do to radiation in the OR.  So, who had to go?  Mr. Nerves of Steel himself!!!   We knew this day would come, since she was born, but you can never prepare yourself for this day.

She was only 10 months old and I had to carry her into the OR.  I placed her on the gigantic table, on her back, holding her tiny hands.  I could see the fear in her eyes, but there was nothing I could do.  They placed the mask over her mouth and nose, and she slowly slipped into a deep sleep.  Her grip of my hands became weaker and finally relaxed.  Oh man, what have I done?  I ran quickly outside and smoked a pack of cigarettes (all 20) in 20 minutes.  This was more than a Viking could bare – my daughter being operated on.  Bloody hell, the surgeon had bigger hands than I do, and he’s going to put them into my daughter’s mouth to fix the palette!

We were told that, during recover, she might vomit up blood, but this is normal.  Despite being told this on numerous occasions, I panicked by the first sight of blood coming up and sprinted to the nurse’s station, grabbed the first nurse I could see and dragged her backwards to my daughter’s bed, while screaming frantically “HELP!”.  Probably managed to wake most of the other suffering kids on the ward.  The other parents did treat too kindly after that incident.

Second time was when our daughter needed to have grommets inserted into her ears, which is a very simple and fast procedure.  However, the waiting game is the worst part.  This time she was only 3 years old, but at least we could explain to her what was about to happen, and she was not scared at all – her mum and dad were scared on her behalf, and a bit more.  Thankfully my wife “volunteered” to bring her to the OR and I was happy to see coming back in tears – payback time.

I had actually quit the fags at that time – silly I know – but went straight back on them that day.  The actual procedure takes no more than 40 minutes, but as parents, these are the longest minutes in your life.  We managed to get a sandwich in a local cafe, have a coffee, go for a walk and I had probably 14 fags too – all in the space of 40-45 minutes.  She recovered extremely well and fast, to the relief of my wife – I think I had been to Neverland for a few minutes, caused by fear, as I don’t remember crawling into fetus position under the bed.

Third time was when our daughter had to have grommets inserted, again.  This time she was 5 years old and fully aware of everything.  Not a bother on her, but again, her parents let her down.  My wife was, for the first few hours in the day ward, biting any nurse’s head off that stopped by our bed.  I actually had to wrench off her teeth from the male nurses right arm, when he as the 9th person, said he knew nothing about the schedule.  In fairness, my wife had good reasons to be upset, as all kids had fasted from 06.00 (am) in the morning until surgery, and NOBODY had the faintest idea when the kids were scheduled to go into OR, except that the surgeons didn’t start to work until 13.00 after lunch).  We were at the hospital at 11.00, last meal at 05.30 (am) and she came out of surgery at 15.45 – almost 11 hours with no food or water for a 5 year old child.

The funniest part of the grommet surgery, both of them, was when she was given a tranquilliser to make her relax.  Sweet Lord, that was the most amusing part.  Watching your daughter giggle uncontrollably because she wiggled her toes or could find them.  She burst out laughing if we asked her how she was doing  and when the nurse covered her faced with the blanket playing with her, she almost peed her pants.

So, now we know how our daughter will act and look like, when she is high or drunk.  Cute when she is small and she’s legally stoned, but not when she becomes a teenager, arriving drunk at the door.

My son is scheduled for grommet surgery next week, and will get drugs too, so let’s not hope he gets the munchies.  If he does, then the hospital will be in trouble, as he can eat horse in normal state, so imagine how much he can eat high.  I’m a bit apprehensive about his surgery and hope my wife will be my pebble stone to sit on (she’s too short to by my rock to lean against), when he has to get surgery.  Not too sure I’m capable of going through the emotions again, less than one week after our daughter had her surgery.

I’m amazed by other parents that go through even tougher surgery with their kids or have to spend lengthy time in hospitals.  The staff are brilliant, but it is still a hospital far away from the comfort of your own home.

Having kids…does that change your life?

When the Americans dropped the nuclear bomb, twice, on Japan, did that change the country (both countries in fact)?  Well, of course it did.  I know, it is probably not the best or most appropriate analogy, and my wife will most likely punch me when she reads this, but you get the picture.

For the record, I love my kids very much and would not change them for anything in the World, and would do anything to keep them safe.  So, I’m like most parents out there.

It was, however, a surreal experience to become a dad at first.  Being handed the little bundle of joy and told that is your kid so love it, takes some time to adjust to.  Your wife had almost 9 months adjusting and living with the baby inside, whereas you have to catch up in approx. 22 seconds – if you don’t react positively or correctly, then your wife, who is still in labour pains, will curse and beat you openly.  But, that’s another blog all together.

But, having kids does change your life, no question about that.  There are sooooo many things you are no longer able to do, not because you can’t, but because you now have new priorities.  On the other hand, there are sooooo many things you can do again, things you haven’t done for years and secretely dream of doing again.  I’m talking to the inner child here.

I have to admit, you miss being able to simple take your girlfriend (wife) by the hand and go to Paris for a spontaneous romantic weekend.  Yes, you can do it, but with kids you need to organise baby sitters, often relatives, to mind your kids.  And, these relatives are too nice to say yes, even if they really don’t want to – “of course we will look after your kids this weekend, while you are off enjoying yourself in Paris!!”  It’ll cost you for years to come as well and will be mentioned in every speech at every family party thereafter – so perhaps that isn’t the best of ideas.

Another thing I miss is getting absolutely hammered with friends and my wife.  Getting home late or early in the morning, getting a kebab on the way home, only to wake up the next morning with kebab sauce on your shirt and in your hair – not too mention the massive headache and hangover.  You most likely wake up well after lunch / early afternoon.

Waking up with a hangover, and having kids, is the worst combination ever.  Our kids have tendencies to wake up very early on weekends.  We are talking before 06.30.  I guess they simply want to spend all day with their parents, so they run straight into our bedroom to see if we are up.  Lying there with a hangover, while your son bangs or slaps your head with his hands and your daughter imitating Sarah Brightman cures any hangover – or does it?  If you try to pull the duvet over your head, then they just join you underneath it, thinking that you are playing with them.  You gotta love them.

But, you are getting older, so you can’t last as long in the pub or drink as much as you could back in the young days anyway.  We’ve gone out with friends, leaving the kids at home, to get some food and drinks, only to find that we are all getting slight tired around 23ish (11pm ish).  Personally, I’m getting so old that I can’t stand sitting in a noisy pub, pretending to hear what people say and laugh at the wrong time in a joke.  So, I enjoy having friends over instead or visit them of course.

Traveling with kids is just a challenge, nothing else.  Don’t make too much of a scene out of it.  You can read more about our experiences in our other blogs, but we’ve been lucky with our kids.  Perhaps it is simply a matter of trying to entertain them, get them food and make sure they have enough sun protection on (unless you have your holiday in Ireland like we did!) while bathing in the pool.  Most parents are, I think, more worried about how their kids behave and what other people might think, rather than letting their hair down and relax – honestly, if you worry too much, then you end up being too stressed and not enjoying your time with the family.  YES, they need to behave, especially when having dinners, and they will – most of the time.  🙂

Now, having kids brings something back that you have been without for ages – playing with toys.  As a father, you might as well admit it, you have always wanted to play with toys again.  It doesn’t matter what toys (barbies would be the wrong choice to suggest or play with, with your son) as long as you can drive the little cars on the floor again, build amazing worlds with Lego or make funny faces.

I myself, absolutely enjoy playing with Lego again.  I find myself suggesting Lego to the kids, spread the pieces on the floor and start building house, castles, roads, etc.  I don’t even notice that the kids have either left or fallen a sleep, and my wife looks funnily at me from the door – just because I make all the real sounds too.  You know, a plane doesn’t just fly silently, does it?
My kids seem to enjoy playing Lego with me, I think, as they always ask me to build the zoo or princess castle.  It doesn’t take much to persuade me either.

Going to the toy store is another thing I really like.  Running down the isles with the kids, looking for a new cool toy.  I tend to stop at the Lego or Playmobil, to see how much has changed since I was a kid.  I probable selected and bought 97% of the Lego, the last 3% they got as a present from my parents (my dad probably chose it).  My parents have still kept all my Lego and Playmobil, just in case we come home on holidays and the kids want to play.  I still remember the first set of Playmobil I got when I was a kid – Harzen (Germany), April 1979, indian village with indians, cowboys, tents and horses – coool.

People don’t even look weird at you anymore, when you test different toys in the toy store, merely because your kids are there too.  Don’t worry, just go for it, it is so much fun to play again.

The other day, I tested my wife and mentioned food fight during dinner.  She laughed nervously and gave me the stare.  Us men know the stare from our wives well, and what the different stares means, so this one was “Don’t you dare!”  I didn’t dare, but my daughter did, and within minutes the four of us were laughing and throwing pasta at each other.  Pasta solo is fun as it sticks to your face, but pasta with tomato sauce is not that much fun, especially afterwards when I have to clean up.

We now enjoy meeting friends for late lunches or early dinners, normally in the houses, and have a lot of great laughs.  Yes, we get some alcohol too, but moderate consumption, and the sessions last normally 2-4 hours, depending on how long the kids can last.  I meet my mate occasionally for either golf or in the pub to watch football, but not as often we might want.  But, it doesn’t really matter anymore, as our weekends are fully packed with kid activities, such as horseback riding.

So, your life has changed completely and now everything is being planned around the kids’ schedule.  It takes a couple of years to adjust, but you will soon adapt to the new life style.  A quote from a great Clint Eastwood movie (“Heartbreak Ridge“) “Improvise, adapt and overcome” says it all.

When the kids get a bit older, you get the chance to do some of all these things again.  Looking at my parents, they had a huge party when I moved out and haven’t looked back since.  In fact, they never offered me my room back when I had some financial problems as a student.  “You moved out, remember, and you are an adult now”, that was what I got.

Anyway, I enjoy being a silly dad, within the 4 walls of our house of course, and I treasure all the hours ahead of me with loads of toys and all these wonderful Christmases and birthdays, with even more toys – yahoooo.  I’m sure it’ll get to a point where my kids don’t want to play with me, as they are with their friends and don’t want to be embarrassed by me, but they go to bed earlier than me.   he he he he  🙂

And remember, you will get grandkids one day, so you have to stay sharp.

Piece of cake, traveling with kids!

Who said it was difficult and challenging to travel with kids, especially travelling with kids less than 2 years old – and two of them? … now we have three!

Well, we’ve been on several short and long haul flights with our kids across Europe and the Atlantic to visit the Caribbean.  They have behaved really well 99% of the time.  It’s the last 1% that can be tricky and that everybody is giving out about.  The moment when everything is completely out of control.

As a parent, you of course dread the moment you step onto the plane.  Deep inside you fear that something odd will happen that results in an outright and devastating disaster such as uncontrollable screaming and a fierce attack of smelly pooh.  The despair and fear is equally present in the faces of your fellow passengers.  Reading their mind would scare most kids, and some adults, into depression.

You have witnessed how some kids can behave on journeys, other kids of course.  But most of the time, their parents let them crawl on the seats, play with noisy toys or run around like small versions of William Wallace – screaming “Freeeeeedom!”  Other times, kids just want to make the most of the journey, testing their parents’ resolve and sanity, doing stuff they would never do at home.  But, the worst case scenario is something far more deadly and invisible – smelly pooh, vomit, sudden emotional outburst and high pitch screams.  Screams so loud that even the pilot appears, fearing that some electrical circuits will be damaged or windows pop.

The first thought you have when sitting down in you designated stamp sized seat, while trying to hold your child and luggage, is “Will the kids behave again?”

There’s always a doubt at the back in your mind, and even when you look at your offspring’s eyes and their excited smile, you know anything is possible with these tiny buggers.

The worst thing you can do is to make a fuss of it or remind them to behave, which I normally do, as this just triggers a natural defence mechanism, wanting them to revolt against orders.  If you start pushing them around, hassling them or anticipate trouble, then it will come – that’s the way it works with kids.  I was exactly like that as a kid.  Just ask my parents.

We had an incident flying home from the Dominican Republic.  These long haul flights are normally night flights and the plane takes off around 21.30 (ish).  There had been problems during check-in, which is another blog, and it made me very anxious.  Our kids were getting tired, which is good and bad.  We were the last people on the plane, ran to our seats and tried to smile calmly to the other passengers, assuring them that everything would be fine.

The first hour of the flight was the worst of my life.

  • Our son tired and hungry = not a great combination
  • Our daughter exhausted = less favourable, and not too violent outbursts

Within minutes of take-off, both kids were crying – no, let me rephrase – screaming their lungs out.  My left eyebrow started to twitch nervously and I wrongly attempted to force them to sit still in their seats during take-off.  I often use a trick taught to me by my father, which is speaking angrily through my teeth, only moving the lips, and having angry eyes.  My son was actually sitting in a cot bed attached to the wall and didn’t have any reason to complain – I thought.  They both wanted to be with mummy.

It took some excellent parenting skills from my wife to calm them down, and then they slept the rest of the flight.  Brilliant!  My wife has some amazing powers that only women possess.  They don’t care about the noise level or other people’s stares, and simply gets down to business of relaxing the kids.  This normally takes anywhere from 5 – 55 minutes.

Other locations for minor tantrums or scenes are:

  • By plane, train or bus; my greatest phobia is changing diapers in small confined spaces, e.g. airplane toilets.  The smell travels so damn fast, especially through air condition systems, and can trigger bio-hazard alarms to go off and they this is to the annoyance of fellow travellers.
  • By car; when you are the driver and you can do nothing about the noise level.  You can feel the blood pressure increase by the second.  The only option is to pull over and take a breather.  Read this blog for an example.
  • By car; a toilet is urgently needed, so you are forced to stop at the side of the road (doesn’t matter if this is the busiest motorway in Europe) and hold your child in an awkward position while they do their business.  You will with 99.99% certainty get pee on your shoes, pants, child’s pants + underwear and the car – probably all of them.
  • By bus; where your child needs to go to the toilet NOW and the toilet on the bus is either none existing or faulty.   Do you pee on the floor?
  • By boat; again, your daughter desperately has to pee.  The only option is to let her pee on the floor of the boat – it’s full of water anyway.

Travelling by train is actually easy.  You can quickly get to the toilet, plenty to see and you would have packed a survival lunch bag/box.  There’s no need for kids to be strapped in, so they can be entertained.

Something that has worked very well for my wife and I, is to bringing loads toys.  These could easily be toys bought in EuroSaver shops, as long as they have something new to play with.  It is only when the kids get older that they demand PS3/DS games or and iPod.

For long or short journeys by car, I can highly recommend a portable DVD player and a few hundred DVDs.

Bring plenty of snacks and drinks, and of course changing clothes if you should have a small accident.

Enjoy your next holiday – I know I will.

In fairness, our kids are actually very good travellers and rarely cause unnecessary trouble for us.  They read their books, play with toys or watch a movie.  Lately, my daughter has started to sing for us while we are driving, but I’m for some reason not allowed to join in or sing solo.  Imagine if somebody her me!

My wife is fantastic with the kids and really knows how to calm them.  One of her methods involves putting on loud music in the car, so nobody can hear anything or simply just listen to her iPod.  Seriously, she has some magic that only she knows and she refuses to teach me.  I’m sure she will teach our daughter the same magic one day.

Again, thanks to my wonderful wife, we can travel in total calmness.