parenting

Travelling without kids

I’ve just dropped Tristan off at the airport: he’s flying to Europe for a two week stint with Kiwi Olympic trampolinist Dylan Schmidt and his coach, as they prepare for the Rio Games. This is superb timing on Tristan’s part, as my first exam is next week. Well played! Tristan’s going to be in Italy and Switzerland, and while I know that it’s a work trip and all that, it will hopefully be a nice couple of weeks for him. It’s summer there, for starters. And the food will be better than he gets at our house.

However, he’s a lovely man and will greatly miss the kids (and me, I hope), so I thought that I’d provide him with a list of the things about his current life that he won’t get to experience, in case he wants to talk to his travel companions and see if they can help him out by replicating his normal life. I think these are his key events each day:

  • Navigating his way through complex breakfast orders, such as Joe’s request today: “Cheerios and yoghurt and honey, with no Cheerios”. Also: attempting to predict the daily variations – three bowls of cereal today? Or three mouthfuls? And when Hattie says that she wants that additional bowl of cereal, did she mean it? Or was it an elaborate bluff? And although the sultanas were requested mixed into the cereal yesterday, will doing so today result in a mental breakdown and floods of tears? And when you somebody says that they’d like a glass of milk, do they really mean that they want to actually drink it, or just that they like looking at it while they eat?
  • Taking a keen interest in other people’s bathroom habits. Who needs a wee? Who needs a poo? Who’s just had a poo? Who’s just had a wee? Does he need to wipe any bottoms? This one could get weird, admittedly.
  • Remembering to never leave the house/hotel without packing a wide assortment of snacks, and a couple of changes of clothing and underwear for everybody younger than him.
  • Resigning himself to long, pointless car journeys, solely because a passenger has fallen asleep and will be seriously grumpy if they get woken up prematurely.
  • Engaging in lots of play along the lines of “hold me upside-down!”, or “vroom me up to the ceiling like a rocket ship!”, or “pretend to let me run away and then grab me!”, or “crouch down on the ground so I can hurtle towards you and throw myself into your arms for a cuddle!”.
  • Providing ample warnings about dinner time approaching, and then coping with the inevitable hysteria when dinner time actually arrives and his companions realise that they now have to stop what they’re doing and sit at the table. The horror!
  • Remaining cheerful and optimistic (or, at least, not swearing) when his dining companions take an hour to eat two slices of pizza, and then claim not to be hungry and refuse to finish said pizza, and then cry when said pizza is removed and they realise that they’ve forfeited the right to pudding.
  • Staying limber enough to chase two naked people around the house and corral them into the bath that you’ve just run for them, and then remaining cheerful enough to sing them silly songs to distract them from the unutterable horror of having their hair washed, and not losing one’s shit entirely when they try to empty the contents of the bathtub all over the bathroom floor.
  • Delaying the post-bath clean-up long enough for everybody to ‘hide’ under towels, cushions, and blankets. Acting suitably surprised when they jump out at you (every single night, without fail).

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  • Reading bedtime stories, especially if the other person who would typically take on this task (like your wife) is asleep on a neighbouring sofa, or feverishly revising in another room.
  • Cajoling and compelling people to brush their teeth, like this is an optional thing and not a basic requirement.
  • Completing an elaborate bedtime routine that involves finding special toys, tucking people in, providing drinks from specific vessels, turning on white noise, turning on the heater, turning on the vaporiser if anybody has a runny nose or a cough, turning on the cool toddler ‘don’t get up until the sun comes up’ clock, remaining optimistic that, one day, some attention will be paid to the clock, winding up the musical box that plays the special lullaby, and giving ample kisses and cuddle.
  • Revisiting the bedroom five minutes later to pull duvets up, or push them down, or provide another drink, or help somebody onto the potty. Or all four things. Times two.
  • Dealing swiftly with any night-time wake-ups as the ‘first responder’, providing  cuddles, reassurance, and resettling as required.

We will miss him so much!

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