As a parent, I recognise that there is no such thing as “time off” – even on holiday. And, vaguely related, as a microbiologist, I recognise that when visiting new destinations – especially foreign destinations – you are more likely to get sick from those annoying little upper respiratory tract infections which aren’t swine flu, but are just enough to make you feel a bit crap and produce litres of snot where before there was none.
Our youngest has gone down with such a virus. Nothing serious, but nasty to make her a bit miserable, exude litres of green gunge from her nostrils and significantly increase the dividend for Adcock-Ingram’s shareholders.
On the plus side, the boy seems to have brushed off any infectious advances from his sister’s bugs and he continues to have a whale of a time chasing seagulls, making a bus in the garden shed and generally not stopping.
Thus, moments like this one are remarkable. Both kids in bed, sleeping soundly and in no danger of plunging into local harbours or in need of paternal solace, while wiping “stuff” on my shoulder. And that is why I find myself sitting in the sun, tapping away on the fancy laptop with a decent cup of coffee by my side, listening to the Manic Street Preachers belting out Autumnsong, Indian Summer and the rest from Send Away The Tigers*. I know that this remarkable moment will only last perhaps thirty minutes if I’m lucky, but that only makes every minute all the more special.
Reading back, you might get the impression that I’m not enjoying the holiday. Or course, I am. But holidays with young kids are different. You don’t get your pleasure from lying on a beach not dreaming of tuberculosis or Friday’s lab meeting – you get it from the smile on your boy’s face as he heads for the swings for the umpteenth time or from your daughter’s giggling as Granddad throws her a ball.
It probably sounds like hell to those of you who aren’t parents. Or at least a bit sloppy. But it’s just different and you don’t understand that until you’ve got kids. And I don’t mean that condescendingly: I certainly didn’t get it before I had kids. Priorities change and you don’t get lie-ins – even when you’re on holiday. It’s hard work, but it’s rewarding.
And with that, I see the lights blinking on the monitor as K-pu awakens. Perfect timing.
Thanks for sharing my short remarkable moment with me.
Tonight: The almost certainly anti-climactic final episode of Torchwood: Children of Earth, which has had me hooked all week, but which will have to pack a whole lot of action, bewilderingly virulent viruses and heroes improbably surviving massive explosions into just 60 minutes this evening if we’re going to get a decent conclusion.
* Just to clarify: I’m listening to the music, not the cup of coffee, which has no ears – often seen as a prerequisite for music listenage.