Holidays have not been my favourite times of the year for about, um, eight years, and if you do the maths, you'll correlate that to the age of a particular child. I'm naming no names, but let's just say he hasn't been the easiest person to take to the beach, or the hills, or anywhere at all really.
Being in a new place and out of routine on any holiday was hard for him. We went from daily out and out tantrums to hourly refusals to do anything. And then when I added to it the fact that I had to pack and take all his special food and everything, holidays just got waaaay too hard.
So it was especially wonderful this week to go to the beach and have SOMEONE ELSE causing all the trouble for once. Yes, the two year old came away with the prize for clingiest/most tantrums/most difficult to manage around sand and sunscreen. And that's just as it should be.
The nine year old managed beautifully. I told him that there Would Be No Refusals this week. There would be one thing per day that we would ALL be doing and That Would Be That. Everything else he could choose as to whether he would participate or not. I only had to call him on it once and he said, "Right, Got It Mum."
He surfed on his boogie board twice a day every day and loved it, showing great resilience even when he got dumped a couple of times. He entertained himself happily with books and magazines and toys. He made two lots of friends at the beach (for him that means finding out their names, their birthdates and what year they are in at school. He has no answer to the question: "what is he like?") and he even went and joined in a cricket game with one little friend and his dad.
He mostly managed to stay out of fights with his brother. He even went for walks with his sister! He complained, and he argued, of course, but we either told him to pull his head in or to solve his own problems, and for the most part he did.
As usual, we came home a day early, but this year it was because of the two year old. Next year she'll be three, and the year after that, we might even all have a lovely family holiday together!