We stepped off the plane into glorious heat. My favourite. Skin blistering sun and not a cloud in the sky. I happily envisaged my body’s transformation to a svelte, Greek, toned, bit-more-than-just-bronzed, slightly-shimmery body that would obviously happen by the end of the week. A bit of a tan clearly gives me delusions of body grandeur.
Anyway, with a batshitbonkers toddler and an up-since-3am child in tow, we began to queue at passport control. I nervously joked to Husband Dearest about the British and their frantic and obsessive queuing etiquette, whilst internally hissing ‘those fuckers with the oversized hand luggage and mild body odour problem better not fucking cut that bastard corner and end up in front of me’. I’d say it was around this point that the overparenting, mad-panic, control-freak fever began to seep into me. I’d possibly say this was also the point at which all parenting instincts and general initiative began to seep out of Husband Dearest. Enter Greek Husband Dearest.
As we waited to collect our luggage, I felt like I was constantly tugging at and scolding Monster Major. He seemed to have made it his sole mission to nearly miss being twatted by cases coming off the carousel, at every possible occasion. Luckily, Husband Dearest hadn’t completed his transformation to Greek Husband Dearest just yet, so he supported me by telling Monster Major ‘Listen to your Mother’ repeatedly. Cheers.
In all honesty, my mind was preoccupied by the growing panic that the children hadn’t consumed any water since the flight. As in like, a whole 15-minutes since their last hydration session. I could feel the unease growing inside and I swear I could see them begin to shrivel right before my eyes, like lovely, healthy grapes turning into dry, wrinkly raisins. My poor little raisin babies. And yet the feeling wasn’t so strong as to make me leave the boys with Increasingly-Greek Husband Dearest, and go and pay airport prices for water. Such a loving and generous mother, I am.
My paranoia continued as we made the 7.5 second walk to our transfer bus (yes, we were proper package holiday wankers). I was so hyper aware of Monster Major’s ghostly ginger skin and that glorious, glorious sunshine, that I practically formed an arch over him with my body and power walked him to the bus. I hopped from foot to foot as we waited for our names to be ticked off, trying to form a barrier for his little translucent-skinned sparrow legs and delicate, little arms.
Once on the bus and seated, I tried to shift my concerns from the kamikaze driving and just relax. Greek Husband Dearest began chatting to the people around us and they started talking about hotels. I could feel the unease creeping back in, as people began to chuck the names of hotels about. They were staying at the Golden Odyssey. What if the Golden Odyssey was better than our hotel? It was called Golden and ours didn’t have Golden in the name and so their hotel was going to be amazing and ours would have rats and give us bubonic plague! Why didn’t I just pay more and go for the Golden Odyssey instead of subjecting my family to the scummiest hotel of all time!? Whilst Greek Husband Dearest and the Monsters snoozed away, I repeatedly suffered fleeting fear or momentary disappointment, each time we approached a tired or luxurious hotel. Nervousness rose as we drove up a dirt track towards a stone building, with an old, tacky, cheap-looking, glass entrance. No flowers or trees prettied the drive, only dilapidated cars and bits of shrapnel. You couldn’t see the azure calms of private infinity pools as seen in some of the much envied hotels we’d passed, only tall, paint-peeling walls and windows with what looked like sheets hung. The coach huffed to a stop and the rep stood up, tapping her mic. I winced, squeezing all of my internal organs, hoping, by some miracle, that this ramshackled old outhouse wasn’t going to be our home for the week ahead.
“Ahem. Golden Odyssey? All passengers for the Golden Odyssey, please leave through the back doors.”
Bah ha haaa! Yes, mother fuckers!
(Sorry to holiday makers of the Golden Odyssey. I hope your holiday was lovely and I’m sure it was simply that the owners chose to concentrate on the inside of the hotel and I bet is wasn’t ramshackled or had sheets hung up at the windows at all.)
Anyway, my emotional pendulum between relief and jealousy continued as we approached and left several more hotels. I tried to quell the worries that the boys were actually snoozing because they were now medically dehydrated and/or had sunstroke. Before long, we arrived at our hotel. It wasn’t scummy, no one looked as though they were suffering any form of plague, and Greek Husband Dearest was immediately ordered to go and fetch the Monsters some water. Life was good again.
We were unfortunately allocated the wrong room initially, and after being told we would move the next morning, I decided not to unpack. So, attempting to get the swimsuits, towels, pjs, dinner clothes and shoes that we needed for the next 18 hours, out of the suitcase, we didn’t unpack, we just ended up with a shower of shit all over the floor, making the slip hazards even more present in my mind. Trying to forget this, I wrestled the Monsters into their swimsuits, consoling Monster Minor because he wanted to be Nemo and I couldn’t find Nemo, I could only find Jake the Pirate but pirates were cool and why would you scream ‘No like Jake Pirate!’ when we had paid so much fucking money to bring you on holiday so that you could put a fucking swim suit on and have a LOVELY. FUCKING. TIME!? I can’t remember where Greek Husband Dearest was at this point but I know he was not helping in Nemogate and I know I was left to attempt suncream alone.
But hey-ho, no harm done, down to the pool we went. I decided to try sunbathing in my exceedingly strategically-positioned-to-be-flattering swimsuit, whilst Greek Husband Dearest took the kids in the pool, walking ahead of them (rather than with them to ensure they would not be smacked by the balls that were flying towards their heads). He was very dutiful and got water for me and the kids, as well as a beer or two for himself. You see, unlike myself, Husband Dearest was very much on holiday.
I catch the sun relatively quickly, so was feeling a bit sunkissed for dinner that evening. I put on a floaty dress and began to feel the holiday spirit as we chilled into our meal. The tensions began to rise as Monster Minor began to shout no and throw food. The embarrassment was heightened by Monster Major refusing to even make eye-contact with the waiter fawning over him. And then the icing on the cake came with this crushing blow from the waiter: ‘So, one, two children, and one more on the way, yes?’
I suppose I should thank him, as I actually came back from the all-inclusive holiday slimmer than when I went. Thanks to his ill-thought through comment, I refused the lures of the carbs and alcohol and very self-righteously nibbled on salads for the remaining 6 days. I scrutinised my holiday wardrobe and narrowed it down to a smattering of outfits that didn’t looked like maternity wear. So desperate was I to show that I wasn’t pregnant, that I slung the swimsuits out, in favour of bikinis, and spent the rest of the pool-side time trying to bend in a way that emphasized rolls rather than any kind of bump. I am one sexy mamma.
Greek Husband Dearest continued to go from strength to strength. From blowing up every single inflatable we had, regardless of whether it was going to be used/fought over/unnecessarily take up a shit load of space, to asking each day whether he could hire a motorbike, he had well and truly allowed all initiative to leave him at the airport.
My personal ‘Greek Husband Dearest’ favourite was during a trip to the beach. It was a swelteringly hot day, the boys had been rat bags during a beach-side lunch, our hired sun loungers were the furthest from the sea and I’d scorched the soles of my feet on the sand. When we got into the water, it was lovely. I had expected some freak-outs, stubbornness or protests against the saltiness of the water. But the Monsters loved it. Monster Major wanted to go to the ‘top of the sea’ and Monster Minor pootled around like a real-life Nemo. We spent a while in the sea – interrupted only by me demanding Greek Husband Dearest go and check on the bags AGAIN – and then moved onto the sand at the shore. We did all the usual burying Daddy’s feet, sandcastles, blah blah blah. Greek Husband Dearest acted embarrassed and ashamed when I sculpted an enormous penis and balls atop the sandcastle Monster Minor had built in between his legs, but, generally, it was all jolly good fun.
We didn’t have too long before we were to catch our bus home, so we, literally, hot-footed it back to the loungers to begin to sort the kids.Monster Major needed a wee and Monster Minor had done the turd to end all turds, in his swim nappy. I got Monster Major out of his swimming costume. He chose this opportunity to tinkle ALL over the sand, under the gaze of scornful looks from people having to share said sand. Trying to be helpful, Greek Husband Dearest removed Monster Minor’s swim nappy. I don’t know whether you’ve ever experienced swim nappy poos, but they must react with the water and turn into a sort of gel. Monster Minor’s poos aren’t solid at the best of times, so you can imagine the state of this dump. But instead of using wipes and putting another nappy on, Greek Husband Dearest ran off to put the swim nappy in the bin, leaving Monster Minor with creamy, vegetably crap all over his arse, balls and willy. For everyone to look at. And looking they were. As if that wasn’t bad enough, as he began to move, the shit started to drip off his nethers and plop into the sand. I felt the eyes of lots and lots of disgusted beach-goers boring into me, as they caught sight of faeces-covered sweetcorn, dropping into the beautiful sand. I was mortified.
Once the boys were showered, I asked Greek Husband Dearest to get some ice lollies and water for the children – quickly, as the bus was due in 20mins – whilst I showered. I returned to find he’d ordered sparkling water, a carafe of wine for me and a massive beer for himself. And no ice lollies. I rushed to get the ice lollies and tried to encourage the children to try the sparkling water. We got them dressed and gave them their ice lollies. They dripped all over them, and they soon looked like stab victims. Ace. We had 10 mins to walk to the bus stop in the unforgiving heat. I had sand in places I didn’t know it could go (I must be a lot more… cavernous than my pre-childbirth beach trips. Up there was holding A LOT of sand) and was feeling a little less than comfortable. It was all rather fraught. And then, Greek Husband Dearest chooses this moment to lie back in his chair, massive beer in hand, and tell me ‘Ahhhh, I’m just so relaxed’. FFS.
I’d say that was perhaps the peak of Greek Husband Dearest. It also marked the onset of my total loss of dignity. So uncomfortable was the fanny sand, that I used the public showers, on display for the whole beach to see, to stretch open my bikini bottoms, cock a leg up, and try to get the stream of water to wash it away. Several times.
This helped a little but, well, we women do have a lot of… crevices, don’t we? So when we got back to our hotel, I literally tried to douche the sand out of every cranny, contorting myself into positions that would make a porn star blush. I had managed to jack a leg up nice and high, prop it on the wall and bend round. This succeeded in helping me wash lots of sand out. Wahoo! But unfortunately, my joy was short lived, as this was also the point that I noticed a pair of little eyes looking up at me and my parts. Poor, poor, traumatised Monster Major. No kid should have to see that.
All in all, the holiday was a success. No, I didn’t sleep because I was so on edge all the time. No, I didn’t enjoy the gorgeous food and booze, because I was trying to look less pregnant. No, I didn’t relax like I could have done. But, I did enjoy myself. And I did enjoy seeing everyone around me enjoy themselves. Plus, it’s been a few years since Husband Dearest had the opportunity to absolve himself of all responsibilities, so bully for him. It became a running joke and was all in good humour. And the Monsters had a blast. So Monster Family Holiday 2016, big tick.
We just won’t mention the 8 hour delay for the flight home…