If I didn’t need my holiday before, then I certainly need it once I’ve got half-way through the packing. It’s a flippin’ nightmare.
Packing is no hassle for Desert Dad. Wherever we’re going, and however long for, packing seems to take him just five minutes, and fit neatly into one rucksack. The possibility that he may have calculated how much underwear he’ll need by adding up the number of days we’re away and dividing it by two is neither here nor there. I don’t care anymore. Don’t care. There are enough cares in packing for me and the kids that I’m done worrying about what hubbie’s bringing (or not bringing).
I get a few minutes into the whole packing debacle before realising that we don’t have any stuff. I mean, of course, this is ridiculous – we have far too much stuff. We just don’t have the right stuff. At best, I am a cautious and frugal consumer – but this backfires on me when it’s time to go away. I’m staring at the disorganised mess of clothes, shouting at myself for the times I stood in Next contemplating whether or not Missy needed more than two pairs of pyjamas, or if Mister really should have sandals that fit him. WE HAVE NO STUFF! NO SANDALS! NO WET WEATHER GEAR! NO PICNIC APPARATUS! This year, however, I managed to remember in time, and have spent the last week or two madly rushing into whichever shops are en route to toddler groups and preschool, cramming a basket full of whatever looks vaguely holiday-related. What is that? No idea. What does it do? Clueless. It has a picture of a sun on it. Do I need it? Don’t care…Missy is screaming…grab it, pay, out.
Then there is the issue of having to pack light. Sticking to the UK for our holidays seemed a good choice when the kids arrived: no long flights, no jet lag, no airport delays, no customs, no hassle. But, right now, I would gladly take on all of those disadvantages for a bit of predictable weather, where our packing would consist of clothes for one season only. Today, I’m cramming my already-full suitcase with big jumpers, sunhats, raincoats, sandals, wellies, swimwear. And take shoes: when we booked our holiday, I was all like Oh it’s great, such a lovely area for walking, and we’re not so far from the beach, and there are loads of lovely towns to potter round. Wrong move, Rycroft. At the very least, I’m going to need five pairs of shoes: walking shoes for country walks, flip-flops for the beach, smart shoes for going out, normal shoes for, er, normal things, and sandals for normal things in warm weather. And that’s the bare minimum. It’s pretty much a full bag already. You say, in your annoyingly calm way, “You can buy things when you get there, shops still exist on holiday”, to which I reply “Yes, where we’re going I will be able to buy organic veg and locally-made biscuits and, perhaps, a pair of Hunter’s wellies, and that is it.” Spending a holiday tracking down a Tesco when you’re in the middle of nowhere, just because I didn’t know whether or not we’d need suncream, is not my idea of fun.
I mentioned sunhats. Missy does not do hats. Still, I feel I must act the responsible parent and pack one anyway, in the vain hope that she and hat might click this holiday. But – because she doesn’t wear hats – I have no idea whether the hat she didn’t wear last summer still fits. So, I do this simple test:
Packing is a drag, no two ways about it. But I do it for a) the holiday at the end of it all, and b) the calm I’ll experience tomorrow morning as hubby packs the car. This is a division of labour which works very nicely in our household: I pack the stuff, and Desert Dad packs it into the boot. When women have kids, hormones kick in. They produce milk, develop a protective instinct, start to nurture their newborns, get very good at laundry, that kind of thing. But when guys become dads, their hormones kick in too, with very different results. I’m pretty sure that as Desert Dad was handed his newborn son for the first time, several algorithms for packing the car boot were already taking shape. It’s all dimensions and shapes and nooks and crannies, and whether boxes or bags are preferable, and what can you squeeze between the kids’ seats, and what do we need access to, and all that shebang. It’s Man’s work, that’s for sure, and for the half hour it takes, I’m enormously relieved to leave it to him. From experience, it’s best to keep me and the kids well out of the way, for this is His Time: a few special moments, just him and our luggage.
And then – we’re off!
Except – no, wait – we’ve forgotten water (which we’ll never drink), keys (in the front door), and CDs. CDs!! Yes, we’re that old. It’s time to leave, but still we must deplete the bulging glove compartment of all its stock, and start again from scratch. We must! It’s time, apparently, to relive the glory days of Beth Orton, or to rediscover that nu-folk-acoustic-rock-metal album which was a birthday present from Groovy Rob. Whatever is chosen, you can reliably assume that, one hour into the journey, he’ll declare that it’s not suitable for driving, that you can’t hear it over the noise of the road, and he wishes he’d kept Dire Straits in after all.
Friends, I need a holiday. See you on the other side.