What is a sensible ratio between travel time and time actually spent on your vacation spot? I am not sure what the answer is but 48 hours after we left our Harlem pad, and some royal screw ups from our airline company, DH angrily said: we have just lost 12 hours of vacation time. Almost as depressing is the fact that we already had 3 leaks per child meaning that after just 48h of vacation I already had to do 2 laundry washes. Vacation, my ass…
Things had started swell. With Thor’s help, we took some well behaved kids to the airport by public transport. We then managed to not only smuggle some fresh milk but also buy some additional stash from McDonald’s. Yeah!!!
We felt it was just our lucky day: families with babies had priority boarding on the XL airways plane (it was our first time using this low cost airline – more on this later) and we managed to have a beer in a quite civilized way by the waiting lounge. All was goos. At least it was until we realized with horror that half of the passengers were families with very, very young children. In average, there was at least 2.5 children per family. My entire face just melted like cheap wax on flames. The entire aircraft was like fucking Disneyworld. On ecstasy. One tantrum away from a general meltdown.
I did not close an eye during the whole flight and even gave my seat to my high maintenance little G. I tried to ‘sleep’ on my bended knees on the plane’s floor patting his majesty’s ass. What devotion…And as I thought we handled the flight delay and the 7 hours New York-Paris flight pretty well, I was reminded on landing how delusional I had become as a mother. Indeed while I was trying to locate G who was ‘playing’ Hide and Seek in an empty plane – yep we were the last ones to leave, no surprise there – I was told by a flight attendant ‘G, G, G…this boy is so fuuuulllll of energy. He neveeeer sleeps, does he? G…it is the one name I kept hearing during the whole flight. G, this. G, that.’ Me: fake ‘hahaha’ and thinking ‘G, if you don’t get out of your hiding spot now….I am going to skin you, I swear!’
It is true my boy is like a mad dog: when about to board the first aircraft, god knows how, he found a button to release the connecting bridge and the whole thing started to fucking shake. On the second aircraft, he tried to pull the emergency handle of the plane’s back door in front of horrified stewardesses….The only thing that keeps him steady is the Ya-Ya, code name for the IPad. And after a 5 hours flight delay (on the Paris-Ajaccio leg), I was not going to remove the Ya-Ya from him whatever the air regulations were. I mean, we have been that the delay was due to the plane being stuck in Stockholm first, Bangkok then and New York finally… What the hell???? S-U-R-R-E-A-L. We also got stuck boiling for an hour in a cramped bus on the tarmac. Yep. For real. So when the flight attendants told us to switch off the Ya-Ya on take off, I basically ignored their order. I, usually obedient and civil citizen, looked at them with a blank stare exhausted and had that answer fully formed in my mouth, ready to lash out: ‘I am paying for a full price air fare. The ticket is under his name. You deal directly with him, see how he takes it’. Well, they knew better and sheepishly pretended not to see…Yeah, that’s what I thought.
PS: we finally arrived and here’s the view from the villa’s garden.
I have been in denial for about 6 months but it is high time I face reality: we are really going to France in one week with the 3 kids, stopping in Paris, Corsica, Bergerac and Paris again. It is happening. 5 flights. 3 rental cars. 2 strollers. 2 trains. Why do people insist calling this inane experiment ‘vacation’?
I have planned details of this trip in my head over and over again and considering the little amount of time I am sleeping these days, I am telling you this: it is a shit load of hours. But every single time, it ends with another question, another dead end and another panic attack a la Drew Barrymore in the opening scene of Scream 1. With less blood and more weird facial expressions. Here’s what has been doing my head in.
Transport and logistics
First we have to reach the airport. How to do this when you need 3 car seats ? We pondered all options:
– rented mini van with rented 3 car seats; as costly as an air ticket to Puerto Rico
– rented mini van with our own 3 obnoxiously gigantic car seats aka ‘The Thrones’; but who is going to drive us and bring back the seats all the way to Harlem on a school night? N-O O-N-E
– 2 cabs without the car seats, do I really want to be squishing my babies on the back seat praying our cab driver’s alter ego is not a NASCAR driver?
I have currently (who knows everything can change in a whim) settled for: the 3 musketeers (DH, Thor and Archibald) with the 3 Chucky dolls on the A train all the way to JFK airport and me in a cab with all the luggage. DH is very trustful; it did not cross his mind that I, lunatic mama, could take a cab and come back home for a stay-cation on my own. Pure Evil.
Supply chain management
Second, I need to figure out how to optimize our supply of baby food, fresh milk, diapers, swim diapers, wipes, sun block, pool toys, water, summer and ceremony clothes, presents for all the kids in both our families etc. I also need to figure out the transportation and logistics: which strollers we are bringing where, where to store things, how many high chairs and baby carrier to borrow. Procurement will be key: online orders and getting my sister, my friend Tess who is traveling by car and my mother in law to purchase presents and diapers stash. The major headache is how will we smuggle and store fresh milk to give the kids in the plane as we are landing in Paris after an overnight flight? As you know they are milk addict and do NOT shut up until they get some (one day I will film this and post it; it is worse than Evil Dead meets Kruger). The five of us might get quarantined in the restrooms by the flight attendants. What is mostly depressing about these thorough processes is that their main outputs will be: poop and soiled diapers. OK maybe , some smiles from the kids too but mainly poop really…
Rocking the vacation look
When I was a single gal, I used to love packing because I would spend days visualizing outfits and their variations for every single day of my vacation. I thus always travelled with 3 full bags of accessories (necklaces, bangles, earrings, brooches, hair pieces, ribbons, hair pins, 2 thread bobbins and a needle – always ready to do a hair pin on a whim) and 2 bags of make up including 4 lipsticks: 2 shades of red, 1 brown and 1 gold. I won’t even start on the number of shoes I used to travel with.
When I moved in with DH, things changed a little. First, he is a ‘5 Ts, 5 pairs of trousers, 5 underwear, 5 pairs of socks’ guy …and 2 pairs of shoes (how is it possible???). His favorite Ts brands are: IECS (the French business where we met), Pepperdine (the university where he got his MBA), Bank X (where he works) and NY Knicks. In short, he is all about Cotton-Cheap-Comfort. I started to feel self conscious about how much space I was using in our collective luggage so I started to streamline. But now with 3 babies, I am screwed. I may have to wear the same underwear two days in a row.
DH and I being DH and I, we did not opt for the easy vacation model: get your ass to paradise, do not move your ass in resort and let some people wipe your kids’ asses. Example: Club Med in Punta Cana. Instead we are renting a house in Corsica in which kids under 5 are overpowering the number of adults (7 against 6). The upcoming post in this leg of our trip is likely to be graphic to say the least. If we survive this, we will then join DH’s family to celebrate our nephew’s birthday and the first time the whole family gets together in 3 years. And if we survive this, we will then meet with my eccentric family for my brother’s 600+ guests wedding. It is a guesstimate since I heard that my mom has been copying wedding invitations behind my brother’s back to distribute…She did this for my wedding too. I remembered her showing the color copies oblivious and totally proud of their quality while I almost fainted from anger.
Yes I am stressed out. It does not help that my man, aka Mr Cool Dude, has a very bad case of departure HAADDA, Hyper activity Attention Deficit Disorder Anxiety, whether it is to go on vacation in Thailand or to go to take the path to Hoboken. He babbles random ‘to do’ lists for about a month, asks thousand of questions, puts me in charge and then on departure day he suddenly becomes Manimal: he turns red, sweats profusely, breathes heavily and turns into a yapping hyena. It is scary. He always claimed it was in his DNA. It is actually true. His family is like this bourgeois family in which home you could hear a pin drop but when they have to go somewhere. Oh boy…It is like Game of Thrones: a massacre. Everyone goes out for the jugular. And the weaker fall one after the other. I usually try to hide terrified. You know the one that pretends to be dead until the battle is over? Yep, that is me.
4 days left and I am still contemplating. All thinking, no doing. See my bedroom. Yes it is a sewing machine in the background because I have sooooo much time to make blankets right now. I am so random.