Monday, December 08, 2008

Don't mention the war

Thirteen and a half hour journey to Germany. Ready to shoot myself on our arrival at friend's house. I could blame the snow which delayed us in the UK, and meant we had to divert to an airport 230km away from our final destination in Germany. But fundamentally, I am not sure travelling with children is worth it.

Driving conditions were desperate - icy sleet and rain, darkness and no speed limits. The boys kept turning on the lights in the back of the car which would make my husband start yelling "Lampen Auf! Lampen Auf!". ( I do not think he will ever consider himself a true European.) To ramp it up that little bit more, my three-year-old daughter refused to wear her seat belt, preferring instead to crawl through the gap and drive the car herself. We ended up pulling off the autobahn, hauling her out and doing that "If I have to get you out again I am leaving you here, OK?. I am not kidding." It was really nice to see my friends whom I love, but you do think sometimes - "What does it take?". We had a massive snowball fight, the kids went sledging, they went to a Christmas market and round and round on a gilt-painted carousel, the boys were bought tickets to a big football match, our friend's daughter has a WII which they played on, and oh yes, our visit happened to coincide with St Nicolaus day which meant they left out their shoes and in the morning "St Nicolaus" had mysteriously filled them with sweeties and toys. On the other hand, I had night after night of broken sleep courtesy of my daughter's refusal to consider the travel cot, one of those silent rows you have with your husband when you are staying with old friends and can't shout at each other, a missed US radio interview (courtesy of my communication problems and general incompetence) , and a bad cough, sandwiched between journies from hell. We got back last night and Granny rang. She obviously asked my eldest son how was the trip to Germany. "A bit good, a bit bad," he said. She should have asked me.


Braja said...

It will only get worse. Christmas is coming. Unless you're me.

Maddie Grigg said...

At least you don't have a dead rat under your toilet floor. And if I hear that bloody 'It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas' song once more I am going to vomit. Seasons greetings!

Eve said...

Oh how I remember the days of giving ultimat(ums/i??) to the children. Our two oldest boys always argued in the back of the car. One day whilst on holiday in Wales, I had had enough. I pulled in to the next layby (I was the only driver in the household in those days), and demanded that they got out of the car which they did. I told them to shut the doors after them, they did. I then drove off....well tried to :-) They came after the car, running hell for leather. I stopped, they opened doors. I said: stop. you are only allowed back in if you behave. They behaved and just a suggestion that they might be put out of the car worked for several years, in fact it even worked on their younger brother without doing it again.
Hope this has put a smile on your face

Sandra Montgomery said...

And here I was, imagining you having a lovely time. I should have know better.

Well at least you are back safe and sound and hopefully with some good memories made.

Arcadian Advocate said...

What can one say?
You describe the whole thing so well, when reading it is as if we are on the journey with you.

Only thing is the Christmas holidays should be a piece of cake after that.

mum of 4 said...

I completely agree with you on traveling with children. Husband, myself and 4 kids, ranging in age from terrible 14 to terrible 4 often come up to your neck of the woods,(husband was stationed at RAF in Boulmer many years ago). Even though the journey up isn't very long, the fights which ensue often have me thinking, never again, no more holidays!
Also visited a German Christmas market in Leeds last week, thankfully without children, but unfortunately with GRUMPY husband. He didn't want mulled wine, he didn't want stollen, he didn't want to be there!!

I love reading your blogs and really enjoyed the book. We were up in Beadnell on Bonfire weekend and went to the Lindasfarne bonfire, very windy but most enjoyable, apart from complaints from pesky kids.

Sara said...

I am full of admiration for anyine who travels with children. We made the mistake of going to friends to stay when my son was 4 months old - it was a nightmare. Never again! I now fondly look at old photos of the far away holdiays we had - and think one day I will be brave enough to take him with us to experience something different. Then I think - oh well he is only 11 plenty of time yet - and book to go to Spain again! (Am very excited tonight as we have just booked 4 weeks in Spain in August.)
Have a good nights sleep and rest tonight.

Laura said...

I feel your pain.

We went to France last year, by car (a 1, 3 and 13 yr). 24 hours later we arrived. Slightly frazzled and wishing we'd put the children in the top box. It drizzled for ten days solidly. We sat in our beautiful cottage wearing thick jumpers (in August) and watched the rain pitter pattering on the swimming pool.

Then we had to return home ... another 24 hours in the car.

The highlight of the holiday was turning the key in our front door on arrival home.

Never again.



The Grocer said...

There's a business opportunity in there somewhere, how much would we pay to get our children from AtoB safely without the suffering they create in the process?

billatbingley said...

Lovely to see that you are all back safe and sound, even if the journey was something of a trial! Now you can relax and creep into Christmas! Hope the Aga is behaving itself!

I have four more stints of Sanata Claus still left before I can switch off!

James Higham said...

Three year olds do have that assertiveness.

Sarah said...

A 12 hour car journey back from Wales when the kids were pre-school just about did it for me; funny, by the next year I was dumbly packing the tent, (oops, no, my partner's job) packing the food and kids' clothes, like I'd had my memory surgically removed.
What is the point of going away when THEY FOLLOW YOU?
Why can't we say 'No! You lot stay here!' Perhaps the anticipation of disaster is too great, eh?
My partner used to play 'burglars' with my daughter, when I was at Playschool committee meetings; it entailed the two of them putting my tights on their heads and taking photos of themselves.
And I was dealing with social services checks and staff suitablity; ooh how they laughed at Mum's face, when she got back home...

Jaywalker said...

Take heart, lovely wife.

Maybe it was a whole other question Granny asked? Like:

"Were you good boys and girls for Mummy and Daddy while you were away?"
"What did you think of German food?"
or even
"How does your mummy look right now?"

rosiero said...

I'm jealous. I spent half my life in Germany (or so it seemed) and really fancy a trip back there right now. This time of year is lovely in Germany.

Fenland female said...

When my husband was little he & his brother had to be seperated into 2 cars during a journey across Germany due to their bad behaviour! Luckliy my in-laws were hollidaying with friends who had brought their own car too! Luckily for me when I visit my friends in Germany there is only the drive from home to the airport & a train journey the other end! Loved this blog! Happy Christmas!

Pig in the Kitchen said...

drove back from UK last weekend. a paltry 8 hour journey, but by the end i really was considering opening the passenger door and hurling myself out onto the peripherique. A car may be the safest place when lightning strikes (did i make that up), but really is torture when filled with whining and squabbling children.

I winced on your behalf about missing the radio interview, I do so hate it when that happens.
My word verification is restolop. I feel there is a message in there.

Simon said...

Next time get the train. It's not that expensive and the kids ca spend the time running up and down the carriage instead of being caged up for hours.

Caroline Catterick said...

I laughed out loud at your blog having just loved your book. We moved up here to the wilds of North Yorkshire, from 2 years in Germany, via 3 years in London, two weeks ago! We have 3 children from 13 down to nearly 4 and you can imagine all of the book touched various nerves in different ways. I just loved it. Shall now check your blog for regular updates and to keep my sense of humour and sanity in check in equal measure in the months and years to come!