We’ve eleven months to organise two holidays. How hard can it be?
“Look”, she said, just a little tetchy by this stage as I had been unable or at least unwilling to make a commitment. “It can’t be difficult. Can we book the holiday to Egypt now to take advantage of the early bird discount?” “When is it again?” I said, stalling…..not for the first time. Silence. Although I think the silence at the other end of the phone was broken by a discernible but easily deniable huff. “August 11th for 2 weeks,” she reiterated, calmly. Well, calmly as in pause for god-give-me-strength-keep-breathing-don’t-let-him-wind-you-up. “And it’s September now?” (I think I was following the wrong line of questioning.) “Yes, but…” And the voice levels start to increase.
At this stage, some 11 months before the holiday in question, someone had to concede… I think I realised before I was told, that the someone was going to be me.
So I did. And then I started to build up my inner strength to raise the subject with my partner. And for her to then raise it with her ex husband. The clear winners in this stage of the extended families joust-a-bout are the children. One major advantage of separated or divorced parents is the lengths we’ll will go to just to maintain what used to pass as ‘normal’ and make certain that we go on a summer holiday together. With six weeks of school holidays, surely that can’t be a problem? I shiver as I recall one of those, “If a train sets off from Scarborough at 8.30am in to a 60mph headwind but travelling at 75mph what time will it reach Bridgend?” type GCSE questions, which never seemed to want the answer that I usually gave, which asked for more clarification on whether in fact there was a direct line from Scarborough to anywhere, let alone Bridgend. Try it (the family holiday conundrum, not the train journey).
Assuming they are all at the same school (BIG assumption, don’t get me started…) and they finish on a Friday, say that the first batch goes for two weeks the day after, then that’s three Saturdays consumed. There there’s a rest week before the next Saturday’s flights, and another three Saturdays used up after that. That’s five weeks gone. Simple. Job done. Yes, get the early bird discount to Sharm el Sheikh, because first we’re going to Italy, and there’ll be a week to sort the kids’ washing. (We can arm wrestle for that privilege).
“What about my kids going with their dad?” says Partner, “As well as going with us. He can only get time off in the first week of August.”
Time to don the blue UN beret, or better still, go for a long lie down in a darkened room. It always works itself out (or put it another way, the women usually work it all out), and the kids hopefully stay oblivious to the wrangling and the terse emails and texts. Hopefully.