Well I say “holiday” loosely of course as anyone who’s ever been away from home with kids for any longer than five minutes will testify that most of the time its just more stress in a different location.
Having a son with autistic disorder makes our trips even more daunting and you tend to spend virtually every minute on edge just waiting for something to trigger a meltdown. Usually if we are lucky this might just involve him running away from the situation and probably interrupting our meal while one of us goes after him. In some cases it can be a bit more serious than that and it can be embarrassing having to apologise to restaurant owners for the smashed plates or when the whole breakfast room turn their heads at once while your ten year old is shouting at the top of his voice and stamping his feet like a spoiled three year old.
I have countless examples of our recent trips descending into difficulty and for this reason my wife decided this year we were not going to go abroad. She’s had enough. I can’t blame her. What used to be something to look forward to has become something she dreads and you wonder whether there is any real point in going anywhere.
We have been lucky enough to get away nearly every year, albeit we probably shouldn’t have and my outstanding credit card bill remains testament to this annual folly. I reluctantly agreed and instead of booking flights on the 3rd January like I normally do, we didn’t plan anything.
As summer gets closer I have been getting a little grumpier about this, the thought of being at home for two weeks is not appealing. We will be at each other’s throats, the kids will not be bothered about going anywhere local as they’ve been to everywhere before and the weather will be crap. Did I mention optimism has never been one of my strong points?
Anyway, about a week or two ago, my son starts asking where we are going on holiday. Ironically, he’s expecting to go somewhere and was not happy when I told him we hadn’t planned anything. Cue meltdown and endless whinging for the next week solid about how his summer will be boring and that he doesn’t want to stay at home. Now I’m thinking my two weeks off will be even more gruesome with an unhappy autistic person. Again this entrenched state of mind is a common trait where people will get it in to their head something is happening or should be a certain way and will simply be unable to accept it’s any different.
I started looking at the possibility of going somewhere in the UK. Yes that’s right, I said the UK. My utmost and absolute worst possible holiday destination. We don’t cater well for people in this country, the food is generally poor or chain related, the accommodation is overpriced or shabby and the weather is, well enough said. On top of this, you end up spending more than you would have done on holiday abroad in the first place without the benefit of increased vitamin D exposure or bikinis by the pool to gawk at sideways through your sunglasses.
My wife used to go caravanning with her grandparents in the seventies as a young child and has really fond memories of this, so suggested we could hire one for a week. A caravan? – I’d rather spend a week in Beirut. I dismissed this idea swiftly by pointing out that if we can’t survive in a two bedroom apartment without war breaking out, then the close living quarters in a caravan would result in all out Armageddon.
To make matters even more difficult, trying to book a cat and dog into kennels for the school holiday period needs to be done with military planning about nine months beforehand, not a matter of weeks. Following various phone calls, begging, pleading and bribery I managed to get the local cattery to take the cat for five days and the in-laws to look after the puppy. They have no idea what’s going to happen to their house!
So, after a week of steady, heated negotiations we are going to a certain woodland holiday village for a four day “break”. I can’t see this being any less stressful for us, but at least we won’t be at home the whole time. It does seem over priced, my son will probably not cope with the activities but did like the look of the pool and my “boy hunting” daughter will spend hours doing her hair and preening herself even if she’s about to go down a zip wire. Actually, she also seemed keen on the archery – I think Katniss is her new role model.
Maybe I should sneakily book one of that single person holidays in the Greek islands somewhere and tell the wife I have to go on a weeklong residential course for work.