Home at last. Two things hit me as I walked onto my terrace; the sunshine and the sound of the cicadas. Both comforting sounds that mean heat. I am very happy to be home. My dog is alive and well, as is the cat. So far there are no nasty shocks in the post and the pool is blue. The children are happy to be home; Bea hasn’t stopped singing since we got here. So why did we do it?
“Holidays with your children,” said my husband on the way home, “are designed to make you think that real life isn’t so bad.”
I wouldn’t call what we just had a holiday. My idea of a holiday is lying on a beach reading novels, getting up for a swim when it gets too hot and ordering cocktails from a man with a tray and a naked torso. Stockholm was many things, but it was not that.
The first problem you encounter when on holiday with small children is that they don’t sleep. And they sleep even less when it gets light at 3am. And then there are meal-times. My children may be brought up in France but they lack that special gene that means they can easily sit through a meal, especially whey they’re over-tired. So we had to adapt our eating to where they would cause least chaos. “Just tell them to sit down,” you might say. That’s all very well, but it gets so boring after 25 times that you lose the will to live, let alone the will to eat your meatballs.
So why did we do it? I suppose I did it partly to expose them to Swedish culture (Pippi, meatballs, blueberries, mossy woods etc) but also because I wanted to have some magical moments with them to cherish. There were a couple of moments, like watching them sing ‘har kommer Pippi Langstrump’ for the first time, but mainly it just seemed like hard work and damage limitation.
“Children are happiest in a darkened room watching a DVD,” said one friend when I complained about our trip. I don’t believe this, but I honestly think children are happiest at home. And I know I am.
Copyright: Helena Frith Powell 2007