Greetings from the other side.
No, not that other side, although I’m sure some of you were wondering. I mean this other side. The one at the end of the holidays.
“We have to rethink this,” said H as we sat blissfully alone in a bustling café on the Continent, shoving food and drink into our faces. “We need a new plan.”
Fancy here had just had, and I quote, “The Greatest Idea Since We Arrived.” Turns out it’s not that hard to look like a genius. Just walk over to the tourist office and buy 4 senior citizen and 2 child tickets for an afternoon-long tour bus of Some City. Then hand the bunch a sack full of sandwiches and a few bottles of water and wave wildly, plastering a mixture of second thoughts and regret on your face.
Then jump up and down, high five and skip all the way to the restaurant after their ride has turned the corner.
It’s not that we don’t love our families. But since Nanny #1 wanted to go see her family and Nanny #2 was hosting some kind of bikram flax seed festival with friends from various Buddhist nations, we were on our own the last two weeks. Okay, that’s a lie. Technically we had our parents. But I mean we were without paid help. Not even our housekeeper. It was all rather tragic.
Instead of sparkly high heels and a gorgeous red dress Fancy here was much more, “Can you take the girls. I need to brush my teeth before I serve dinner. Do you think anyone will notice if I just keep my pajamas on?” and “What the fuck are you doing dropping crumbs on that floor? Did you not just see me crawling around here with fucking Flash wipes on my hands and knees?”
And after a week at the Fancy Home, we shoved everyone on an aeroplane and headed off for a week somewhere in a sort-of-warm European location. Because we don’t know when to say when.
Anyhoo, turns out travelling with 4 old people and two toddlers is a bit like a cross between a senior care home, a mental institution and an unstructured Gymboree play hour.
It wasn’t enough that I was dealing with the Minis. I had 4 other children. Well, 3 other children and one old man. We were all wearing glazed expressions by sometime last week. Not that there weren’t some great moments of excitement.
For example, I taught my mother-in-law how to turn on a stove. (Yes, I didn’t realize it was that different of a system from one European country to another.) On the other hand, H got to teach my mother how to—hold on—open a window. My father-in-law took to walking out the door in search of something vital (like stamps at 10pm for postcards he hadn’t yet written) without a phone or even the address of our apartment. And my dad, God bless him, just laid in the corner with his eyes shut and occasionally one of us would hand him a glass of water.
And finally after over a week and a half of H and I interacting only enough to stare daggers at each other, I put them all on a bus. For 3 well-deserved hours.
“You know, there is such a thing as a Holiday Nanny. You can just hire them for the two weeks to come with us, sleep in the Minis room, get up at the crack of UnGodly o’clock with them and babysit in the evening so we can go out every night,” I offered, between gulps of my wine.
Slamming down his beer glass (yes, that’s how far gone we were. Beer. Not Champagne. Beer.), H looked at me. “Well, now that’s an idea.”
“Yes, and we could try having the holiday catered, as much as I love to cook it was all a bit overwhelming. Also when we travel, get maybe, two apartments? One for the grandparents and one for us, the Holiday Nanny and the girls. And we could sleep in and I might be able to stay awake past 7:30. What do you think?” I pushed.
“Now that is starting to sound like a plan,” he answered, sucking the meat from the steamed leg of once living crustacean.
And so here we are. You know how some people start planning the holidays 6 months in advance? Well, Fancy here has a full year to get her act together. Christmas, 2012. That’s the one I want to remember.
Happy New Year!