The nuclear nappy that put
me off flying abroad for life
19:31 GMT, 5 September 2012
Right, so where were we Oh yes, I was at work, then the children broke up from school, the next minute I was on holiday, and suddenly I was back at work again, the six weeks of summer gone in the blink of an eye.
I only know this much time has passed because baby Mabel’s miniature Crocs no longer fit, and Eric the apple seed, which the children planted, is bursting out of his little yoghurt pot in the manner of the Incredible Hulk.
Time has flown past at an Olympic pace, and I feel as if I’ve crashed unprepared into the new school term at warp speed. I still haven’t bought uniforms for the eldest, who are back in class on Monday.
Baby on board: Lorraine does not enjoy flying with little ones (posed by model)
And although our flamboyant
five-year-old’s transition to Year One has been celebrated with the
purchase of a new ‘handsome shirt’, as he calls his floral numbers, he
is still squeezing into last term’s PE kit.
When you are child-free or your little ones are under four, you can sometimes stretch summer out until the end of September, but the moment they pass through those school gates you’re tied to a rigid timetable that seems to accelerate the ageing process faster than all the sleepless nights of babyhood.
The only part of our break that seemed to go on for ever was the plane journey we took last weekend to a family wedding in Cyprus. After four hours in a tiny seat with an over-active toddler, I swear I aged quicker than the cast of Dallas.
We rarely go on planes (who wants to end their holiday grappling mid-air with over-tired offspring): we usually go to Cornwall. No one glares at you repeatedly in a car, and you can usually get a decent cuppa at Exeter services.
Plus the toddler is trapped, unable to continually and successfully poke you right in the eye. And no one accidentally pees on your foot in a loo cubicle smaller than your washing machine (Dear Air Hostess, please remember tiny children are not football fans, their bladders are the size of a peanut. When they ask you for a third juice, out of parental earshot, just say no.)
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Air travel is for the bravest of parents, in my opinion. Those with endless patience. Or those on the strongest of happy pills.
We didn’t realise this at first, but I quickly worked it out the day they held a plane on a Spanish runway for us as I hurtled up the steps carrying a baby with a nuclear nappy and dragging a red-faced three-year-old in the throes of an epic tantrum.
And we finally decided enough was enough the day Gracie-in-the-Middle, aged four, drew a picture of an air steward in a dress and handed it to him saying ‘You’d look nice in that’, minutes before she inexplicably yelled ‘We’re going down!’.
But family weddings demand attendance wherever they are in the world, so this latest plane journey was inevitable.
At least we now know that four nappies is not enough for a short flight with a teething mini-beast.
We disembarked at Heathrow looking like we’d been on a gap year in the rain forest. I needed a change of clothing due to Mabel’s shenanigans with her milk bottle.
The five-year-old was juiced up to the eyeballs, Gracie-in-the-Middle was suffering from sunburn, and the eldest, aged ten, was still sulking after her fussy food demands weren’t met on board. And we still had an hour in the car ahead of us.
Staycation beats vacation hands-down when you have a large family: it’s kinder to your blood pressure (and cheaper), if you want my advice for next summer.
Anyway, it’s all a distant memory today as we hurtle into autumn, the busiest of terms. Roll on half-term.
Lorraine Candy is editor in chief of Elle magazine