On hol­i­day hor­rors

Viewed from a dis­tance, fam­ily life looks as good as it does on In­sta­gram. How­ever, viewed up close, one must re­mem­ber what So­phie White calls the Monet Rule

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - Life - - SHUTTERBUG -

We are go­ing on our very first fam­ily hol­i­day to­mor­row and I am burst­ing with ex­cite­ment. This is be­cause I haven’t been think­ing in too much de­tail about what the com­ing week holds. Cur­rently, in my mind, the hol­i­day is like an Im­pres­sion­ist paint­ing — when ob­served from a dis­tance with slightly un­fo­cused eyes, it looks beau­ti­ful. How­ever, in sharp fo­cus, from close up, it’s a bit of a mess. But that’s pretty much par­ent­hood in gen­eral.

The Monet Rule can be ap­plied to lots of ac­tiv­i­ties at­tempted by par­ents. For ex­am­ple, one might ex­pect a trip to the beach for a fam­ily ice-cream to be a pleas­ant ex­pe­ri­ence, but in re­al­ity, there’s sun­block in Yer Man’s eyes and the ice cream is too cold and too cov­ered in sand for him to en­joy.

You try to do a nice thing as a par­ent, but in­evitably, you will be thwarted by the very ones you are try­ing to please. The chil­dren.

Ev­ery time I think of the hol­i­day, I smile in an­tic­i­pa­tion of in­tro­duc­ing Yer Man to swimming in the sea. How­ever, I am not tak­ing into con­sid­er­a­tion the at­ten­dant ‘thrash­ing and salt­wa­ter in the eye sce­nario’, an in­ci­dent so likely to hap­pen, it is ba­si­cally a fore­gone con­clu­sion.

I haven’t even had the nerve to ap­ply the Monet Rule to the plane jour­ney, but I’m pretty sure it’ll be hor­ren­dous.

When­ever I tell other par­ents of my ac­quain­tance that we’re go­ing on hol­i­day, their first ques­tion is not, “Where are you go­ing?”, it’s: “How long is the flight?” This ques­tion is gasped out with an im­per­a­tive of such ur­gency that I have be­come quite ter­ri­fied of what lies in store for me to­mor­row.

Sure, I’ve wit­nessed par­ents and kids on planes be­fore and I know the sub­tle-but-snide shock waves of judg­ment that in­vari­ably rip­ple forth through pas­sen­gers and cabin-crew mem­bers, a storm of in­tense ir­ri­ta­tion with the par­ents and kids at its epi­cen­tre.

Be­fore, I would never join in with the mut­ter­ing — “Would they not con­trol that child?” or “This is what’s wrong with kids these days, no dis­ci­pline”. I was too busy lux­u­ri­at­ing in the pro­found re­lief that it was not my prob­lem. Be­fore, you couldn’t pay me to be these peo­ple.

But now, to­mor­row, I am join­ing their club in ex­change for a bit of sun and an Airbnb over­look­ing the ocean. It re­mains to be seen whether this will be worth it.

I needed a plan of ac­tion for the plane jour­ney — two-and-a-half hours by the way — so, to get some ideas, I did a lit­tle sur­vey of moth­ers I know.

Is it just me, or does ev­ery­one have a par­ent they use as a barom­e­ter for par­ent­ing de­ci­sions? Some­one who has a sim­i­lar set of par­ent­ing val­ues, but who is per­haps a shade less lazy than you are. Some­one re­al­is­tic to as­pire to.

My Par­ent Barom­e­ter or PB is a great mother and, to my mind, in­fin­itely more re­spon­si­ble than me. So, when she floated the idea of Do­zol — a chil­dren’s pain re­lief, no­to­ri­ous for its sleepin­duc­ing prop­er­ties — for the plane, I was amazed. She’s sug­gest­ing that I es­sen­tially drug my child. Ap­par­ently, ev­ery­one is at it.

If a par­ent­ing prac­tice is giv­ing me pause, then it usu­ally has to be pretty bad, and I think drug­ging chil­dren is one to draw the line at.

But her sug­ges­tion did get me think­ing that it was un­likely that we would sur­vive this plane ride with­out a lit­tle nar­cotic in­ter­ven­tion, so I have pro­cured a Val­ium to be placed, cyanide-like, un­der the tongue in the event of emer­gency/tantrum. One of us needs to be se­dated and I’d rather it be me than him.

Ob­vi­ously, in the in­ter­est of safety and parental re­spon­si­bil­ity, I won’t be shar­ing my Val­ium with Him­self — some­body needs to be sober to make sure we ac­tu­ally make it to our des­ti­na­tion.

It’s a per­sonal Val­ium that I won’t be telling any­one about. For the baby, I’ll be mak­ing these chewy choc­cie bars to ap­pease him and to have on hand should the Val­ium give me the munchies.

CHEWY CASHEW AND DATE BARS

Makes 12 bars.

You will need: 12 pit­ted dates 150g (5⅓oz) cashew nuts 6 ta­ble­spoons raw ca­cao pow­der or co­coa pow­der 2 ta­ble­spoons runny honey 5 ta­ble­spoons co­conut oil Place the pit­ted dates, the cashew nuts, the raw ca­cao pow­der or co­coa pow­der, which­ever you’re us­ing, the runny honey and the co­conut oil into a food pro­ces­sor and blend for about five min­utes un­til the mix­ture is com­pletely smooth.

Line a 20cm (8in) square con­tainer with bak­ing pa­per, and press the blended date mix­ture in firmly. The mix will be quite greasy, but it will firm up af­ter set­ting in the fridge for a few hours. When it has set, cut it into 12 bars and store in the fridge.

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