All in it together


The Dad diary
Edwin McGreal

It was a step into the unknown.
We have never been away as a family of four. Éamon, for instance, has never slept a night anywhere but Achill since he came home from the hospital two years ago next week.
Frankie had been a bit of a jet-setter. Well, Knock to Malaga three times, but that is good going compared to her brother.
We were altogether keener on travelling with just one kid in tow. You could at least alternate, but when there’s two, there’s no rest. Not when they’re small.
I’ve always admired parents who bring two or more small kids on holidays, especially on flights with all that could go wrong.
Frankie got violently sick on her last flight home from Malaga. We were stretched to the limit to cope. I’m not sure how we’d have managed with two kids on the flight. But, then, I guess no more than any other challenge, you just have to get on with it.
Flights were not an option this summer; perhaps just as well. So, instead, we booked in two nights in Athlone with swimming and relaxing high on the menu.
It was an experience, and we said no matter what happened, there would be plenty to learn from it.
For instance, who knew that despite all the careful selections of hotels with pools, good locations etc that what would appeal to Éamon far more than anything else were low windows in the bedroom that he could keep climbing up and down on.
And stairs. Upstairs at home is closed off to the kids, so any trip to a house with stairs is manna from Heaven for Éamon the Explorer.
A hotel with three flights of stairs? Well, he was in his element. His father less so.
Up and down the stairs we went continuously, him loving it and I hoping that at least it was building up my step count for the day.
Sleeping all in the same room though was the real experience. Night one went well, both were wrecked from the journey. The fun started on the second night.
The kids were high after so much fun during the day, and so normal bedtime was out the window – I think Éamon threw it out himself.
Frankie hit the wall first, around 10pm. She did something she never does – turned over to us from her bed and said ‘Night, night, love you’ and was gone inside a minute. Normally nighttime is an never ending battle of wills with her, but two sessions in the swimming pool and joining Éamon in the Stairs Olympics had her shattered.
Her younger brother? He was high as a kite. Mere minutes after Frankie nodded off, he started shouting her name repeatedly, knowing he was being bold and roaring laughing, and knowing there was precious little we could do. Thankfully Frankie was so panned, she did not so much as stir.
Éamon eventually gave up around midnight. If it was any later, he’d have had to put himself to sleep on his own because we were shattered too. Relaxing it wasn’t, but fun and an experience it certainly was!

In his fortnightly column, Edwin McGreal charts the ups and downs of the biggest wake-up call of his life: parenthood.