Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Travelling with children. Modern parenting.

We have returned to our quiet life after a flurry of activity over the weekend, and, for that matter, the days leading up to the weekend. We made a number of trips down to the underground car park, making sure that our allocated, and paid for, space remained unoccupied. At the last moment we checked that the batteries in the remote control for opening the garage door were still working. It has been, after all, almost three years since we acquired the thing and we have never used it. Everything fine, there was no need for a last minute dash to find batteries and try again. Finally we had a message to say that our son + wife + small child had safely arrived and were waiting to pick up their hire car from Santiago airport. 

The car hire company tried a trick which is reportedly happening quite often; they looked at the luggage to be stowed in the car and declared that the requested vehicle would undoubtedly be too small. Would they like to upgrade? Well, no, not really, they wouldn't. They had made it to the airport in London in a little Polo with that pile of luggage and so were fairly confident that it would fit in the Golf they had selected. So the hire car company, obviously unable to provide a Golf, gave them a HUGE Seat something or other for the same price as the Golf! The car hire firms rely on people being tired and stressed after a longish journey, then waiting for their luggage on the carousel and standing in the queue for car hire, all the while dealing with grumpy and tired offspring. This time it didn't work! 

And in no time at all, less than an hour after picking up the car they were texting us to say that they were almost here and would we please come down and show them were to park. Amazing stuff! And the car was truly HUGE! But it still had only five seats. How do cars manage to be so large and seat so few people? Still I suppose it's a lot safer to drive around in: rather like a tank! 

We have been amazed at the amount of paraphernalia our visitors carried with them, largely baby related. There was a travel cot (much sturdier than the one our son himself slept in on camping trips when he was a tiny person), a buggy and an ingenious folding seat that fitted onto dining chairs, in lieu of a high chair. That was understandable enough but then there was the baby monitor, a night light, various bowls and cups and bottles and so on. It's a good job the child is beyond the stage where everything needs to be sterilised before it gets near her mouth! There was even a spare soft toy, identical to the one the little girl carries around with her wherever she goes! 

Now, most children become attached to something or other as a comforter. In some cases, like Linus in the Peanuts cartoon strip, it's a tatty old blanket. Our son had a teddy bear who went everywhere with him. His sister didn't bond with anything, neither soft toy nor blanket nor any other object: very self sufficient. Our granddaughter has a kind of monkey affair which goes by the name of Teabag. But nowadays, unlike when our children were tiny, you have to have a spare to avoid infantile stress if the comforter-toy needs to be washed or in the case of our son's teddy bear gets left at a friend's house, leading to comments from a chatty toddler next morning that "Brown Teddy is probably walking back home now". I expect the stress of that made him able to cope well with crises in later life! 

Anyway, at some point yesterday morning, while our son and his lady were purchasing provisions from Mercadona next door, their little girl, left in the tender care of her grandma, discovered the spare Teabag in an open suitcase in the room they had all slept in. When her parents returned their was consternation. They had so far carefully avoided the situation where their little one could have a Teabag under each arm looking pleased with herself. They did not want her to get the impression that they too, as important in her little universes as the soft toy, might suddenly be cloned! The spare toy was spirited away before too much harm could be done! Who knew that life was so complicated in the world of modern parenting? How did WE manage? 

We made several trips down to the garage, stowed everything in the boot of the "tank" and they set off for a week in a holiday let in Baiona. We all had a successfully organised visit this weekend, and even managed to feed the small child chipirones for lunch in the restaurant on Sunday. 

After the little family had set off, we removed the childproofing we had set up on the rather angular furniture, tidied the place up and settled back into our routine: mostly Phil doing chessy stuff on the computer and me doing many circuits of the swimming pool in the sunshine. Such is life!

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