It all seems so long ago. What with the trauma of Doggy and the drive to Dublin and everything (no sign, since you ask, no reply to the pathetic fax either). The parents-in-law rented a house to which we were all invited to stay (and do your parents-in-law organise holidays for you? No, hah, you should have chosen your husband with greater care). Our holidays are now officially the cheapest part of your year as we live off our loving parents.
Despite rain almost every day, we also had sunshine almost every day – that’s Kerry for you. The publishing exec who spent all her childhood summers in Kerry had memories of golden sunshine and she packed accordingly. On her first morning (need I say that the Princess was overwhelmed with excitement upon catching sight of her aunt – for a normally articulate child, all she could do was yelp) she arrived down to breakfast (early, the disadvantage of being beloved by the Princess, she likes the objects of her affection up good and early) scantily clad. She was preparing to go to Skellig Michael with the piccolo cugino and his insane parents (by the time we had arrived they had already been kayaking and visited Daniel O’Connell’s house, later they snorkelled and the brother-in-law ran up a mountain – you may determine on which of these ventures they brought their son). Her father and I looked at her converse runners, skinny jeans and skimpy top dubiously. Oh she said airily “I have a woolly jumper”. How we laughed when we realised that she meant something like this rather than this. So off they went. The Princess and I had contemplated going but were spared the ordeal by inertia. For ordeal it was. As the publishing exec said “those monks were hardy”. As you know hermits like to retreat to the desert. Ireland has always been thin on deserts (that rain again) so they went to Skellig Michael as next best thing, it being remote and miserable. They all came back looking like refugees on the telly (except the piccolo cugino, who seemed fine). The publishing exec said that they had sat on the boat on the way out with a crate around their feet to try to keep warm and while the boatman’s assertion that there was a covered space on his craft was technically accurate, I think that the party had envisaged something more than a small square of tarpaulin which would cover only one person at a time. The island was very beautiful and so on but the steep steps, no handrail and knowledge that they would have to go back on the boat kept the party suitably nervous.
Meanwhile, we were having a lovely time back at base deploying the expert babysitting services that were a feature of our time in Ireland. At least once every day we went out with no children at all. Gasp. We went to a smart restaurant. The unfortunate publishing exec spent hours on the beach with the Princess starting before 9 one morning and only coming back at lunch time. No greater felicity can be imagined for all parties involved. Except maybe the publishing exec. And probably, the parents-in-law were tried pretty high the night we came back to find all three children up and the Princess bouncing off the walls saying “this is ridiculous, we should be in bed”.
We got to see a bit more of the piccolo cugino on this trip. He is the best child. Smiley, gorgeous and sleeps through the night. Of course, my children are smiley and gorgeous too but you will spot the significant respect in which they differ. I wonder could it be diet. I watched in awe as my sister-in-law spooned home made mush (cinnamon and sweet potato) into her willing son’s mouth. “What are you feeding the boys?” my mother-in-law asked me, perhaps worried that I would feel left out. “Um, I forgot to look at the label”. “Maybe carrot” opined the Princess looking at the orange gloop in the bowl. A low moment. When the piccolo cugino abandoned one of his meals in Kerry, I surreptitiously swooped it up and fed it to the boys. They were delighted. It was unfortunate that, as they finished it off, the piccolo cugino decided that he would like some more; I can see a lifetime of this torture by his big cousins ahead of him. Poor mite.
The Princess had a fabulous holiday and, if she’s happy we all are. She adores her relatives and seeing her interacting with them makes me sad that we don’t live in Ireland. We went to the beach every day. I swam twice and one of those times it wasn’t raining. We went for walks, we went to the hotel for drinks. It was very like the holidays I had with my parents and we loved it. Even the kiddies in the hotel were like the ones from my youth. No ipods, no playstations, just down in the basement playing with the moth eaten toys in the game room.
Back in Dublin we got together a number of our friends with children and sat around marvelling at our progeny and exchanging news briefly between bouts of “what a gorgeous baby, clever boy, good girl etc.”. Unfortunately, one friend does not have children. The poor man, he should never have been invited. It was hard to tell which part of the afternoon was the worst, was it when I sneezed on him (I seem to have become allergic to Dublin), when one of my friends and I sat opposite him on the sofa breastfeeding or when the Princess came in and took off all her clothes? I bet he’s really keen to have kids himself now or maybe allergies?