This was the first time we’d been on a proper holiday abroad for two years. Those two years obviously made a massive difference to how The Boy experienced the adventure. He joined in the anticipation, for one, and in the days leading up to our departure would ask whether we were going to the seaside today and whether his fire engine (his Trunki ride on suitcase) could come. He also picked up on our destination. On the plane he kept repeating, his eyes wide with wonder: “Going-a Spain.” The Girl was less impressed with the flight, and screamed non-stop during the second hour, finally falling into an exhausted slumber as we landed and had to get off.
We arrived at the apartment late at night, the kids asleep in the car. We carried them straight up to bed. The next morning, I greeted the Boy with: “You’re in Spain!” For the rest of the week, he was convinced that ‘Spain’ was the apartment and would ask to go “back to Spain” when he’d had enough of a trip to the supermarket or an outing that didn’t include enough snacks. We tried explaining that Spain was a country, just like England or The Netherlands, and that the supermarket, the beach and the park were all in Spain too, but to no avail. By the end of the trip we just went along with it, wearily confirming that yes, there were ice creams back in Spain and he could have one once we got there.
He was initially a bit disappointed that there was no television in Spain, but being a resourceful little chap, he had soon rectified this by commissioning me to make all the Numberjacks, their enemies and accessories out of paper and acting out episodes with them endlessly; assigning all the toy cars we’d brought identities from Roary the Racing Car; designating the plants on the balcony as The Veggies from Mr Bloom and casting his two Duplo polar bears (the one in the plane and the one in the car) in the roles of Splish and Splash from Iconicles (or Icono-barnacles, as he insists the program is called). This kept him occupied for hours. There were even some interesting mash ups, like when Roary crashed and the Numberjacks came to rescue him with some brain gain.
There were also plenty of amazing fun things to do outdoors. Going to the beach quickly became number one favourite, even warranting a little song: “Going-a beach is fuuuuuun!” Building sandcastles, digging holes, sunbathing next to mummy and washing hands at the special fountain were instant hits. The sea took some getting used to. He wanted to keep a safe distance at first and was very worried that the waves would come and get us, but slowly he and the sea made friends and he was happy to play by the water’s edge, writing numbers in the sand.
Meanwhile, the Girl practised walking, played with her brother’s toys, fell over and hurt herself, got lots of cuddles, learned to say “uh oh” but not when to say it other than to get a laugh from the rest of the family, played in the sand for ages and spent a lot of the nights awake. Goodness knows why, but she’s a baby and doesn’t need a reason.
The flight back was in the middle of the night. The Boy had doggedly stayed awake during the 45 minute car ride to the airport, saying “bye bye” to all the cars we passed, and was still awake when we took off. Finally, around midnight, he dropped off, his head resting on Daddy’s arm, just as the Girl woke from a blissful slumber. She spent the flight charming all the other passengers with beaming smiles.
We arrived home in the dead of night and put the Girl straight to bed. The Boy was not having it. He was far too excited to be home. He greeted the cats with great delight and then wanted to dive into his favourite activities. “Watch Chloe’s Closet,” he insisted. “Watch Numberjacks?” When TV turned out not to be an option, he found his paper Numberjacks again and had to be dragged away from them with hissed threats and bribes to stop him screaming the house down and waking his sister and the lodger.
Spain was great, but clearly, nothing beats S house.