I thought about writing a post bursting with tips on how to holiday with your adopted children, only problem was I couldn’t get past my first tip. Never go with too much expectation, and then anything else is a bonus. This then got me thinking, had we really had such awful holidays? Have they really been all that terrible that I can’t lead you to hope it will be at all fun? The answer is no, it really isn’t true.
Yes last year in the caravan was hell, with the swearing and kicking off in such a confined space and close to other families, I’ve never felt more like going home before it was time. Yes our first holiday to Cornwall Tink did spend some time in hospital after suffering a Febrile Convulsion on arrival. His mouth went blue and he stopped breathing, I screamed as I thought he was dying there in my arms, it was the most awful experience of my whole life. However, that aside, the rest of the week went on to be very good. The ones with grandparents have also always been well intended but all too often add to the stress, no one’s fault; it’s just the way it is.
On the whole being away from home and in the holiday mood has brought about some fond and wonderful memories of us spending time together and enjoying each other’s company. There is no doubt that the first days in a new location provide a more heightened atmosphere, particularly for Stig. At these moments I feel like I’m constantly on to him, “Stig stop that” “Don’t touch that” “Calm down” “Be Quiet”. He goes into over vigilant mode and it can be warring. However over the years our awareness of this now means we plan more and talk more about it. His added maturity means he is increasingly more self aware and able to regulate or address the situation himself. The fact that we often return to the same places on holiday, that are familiar and loved, means that anxieties of change are further lessened.
We’ve been talking holidays plenty as we have a two week break planned to our favourite sunny spot in Portugal, which we are all looking forward too. When questioned on what he likes about going there Stig replies “Ooohh that hot guff of air that hits you as you walk off the plane”. We fall about giggling at his use of the word “guff” instead of “gust”, but decide it’s quite befitting as both are describing warm wind!
Our family’s love of food is evident in another of his favourite things, eating clams in the restaurant in the cave. He fondly remembers the night we visited this magical spot and he discovered a love for these little delicacies, he was seven at the time. From that day on, every restaurant or beach bar we entered the question would be “are there clams on the menu?” We were the proud parents of a foodie until we realised, as we all tucked into our lunch time cheese toasties, that Stig was doubling the food bill with his expensive tastes.
Tink recalls shopping as a favourite thing, although he could be anywhere and enjoy that. However he does remember exactly what the first thing was that he bought in Portugal, a fan covered in flamenco dancers and frilly lace. The water baby within also lists all things water related as his favourite things, the pool, the sea and most of all, the water park. He won’t divulge much more than this, but at the moment with his none co-operative ways I was lucky to get that much.
Mr H has some fond memories too of our trips to Portugal; he loves the family games we play. Whilst away I always have a pack of the card game “Old Maid” in my bag, something to do in any bar or restaurant to keep us all occupied. No one seems to tire of this game, as soon as we place our bottoms on those hot metal sun kissed seats, and before we can order a cold refreshing long one, someone will always ask “can we play Old Maid?” For such a simple game it has given us hours of pleasure, the delight in giving her away and the excitement of trying to pass her on, that Old Maid has much to be thanked for. I will definitely pack her again this year.
Mr H reminded me too of our boat trip during our last holiday to Portugal, it was a treat for Stig’s birthday. We anchored in a crystal clear lagoon and the captain advised that although it appeared beautiful the water was extremely cold. Something to do with unusual cold currents for the time of year. He also advised that although my 6 and 7 year old were good swimmers that life floats should be worn if they wanted to go in; he was concerned the shock of the cold would affect their ability to keep afloat. I whole heartedly agreed and Stig keen for a dip put his on and in he jumped. He plunged in and his head bobbed up gasping and shrieking at the cold. Soon he was clinging to the boat side and asking to be pulled out.
Next to step up is Tink, we pass him the float and the firm reply is “no, I can swim”. For the next ten minutes we tried our hardest to persuade the little man that if he wanted to go in he did need to wear the item. His heals were firmly stuck into the wooden deck of the boat, in his eye it was ludicrous that a float would be required. The Captain of the boat stepped in at this point and said to save the argument he would get in the water with the boy. So in plunged Tink, his head bobs up and not a sound exhaled, just a stoic firm set face. Then in order to really prove his point the boy turned and swam away from the boat and paddled around for a good five minutes before he then agreed to come out. Shivering and shaking the determined, controlling, little boy had firmly planted a holiday memory not to be forgotten.
And so to my memories of sunning ourselves in Portugal. When I recall these times I know that I am not always as relaxed as I would like to be on holiday, there is always a need to be planning and thinking, a mindfulness to everyone’s needs. That said, without all the other day to day distractions that home life brings there is quality family time. Like my family’s favourite memories, mine revolve around the family fun, the family meals and the experiences we share together. I love the food we eat, the games we play and the funny situations we find ourselves in. Now I really can’t wait to do it all again, although I will be quiet about my hopes for the same great times, remember low expectations.