At the beginning of our holiday, I felt quite smug, thinking that we Buttons were becoming a functional family at last. By that, I mean that we have now left the baby days behind us: no more being bound by milk feeds, nap times, early bedtimes, regular meals, random unfathomable crying, incomprehensible chatter, and cumbersome baby equipment/toys/babies.
While packing up the car before we left home, Tom remarked that the car seemed unnervingly empty: suitcases check, kids check, food check, buckets and spades check, and ready for the off, just like that, easy.
On the holiday, instead of putting the kids to bed at their usual time, and then spending a bit of time whispering to Tom in the sitting room next door, getting bored and going to bed at 8pm ourselves, we spent long evenings in the beer gardens of Pembrokeshire. Betty and Dolly happily ran around and played together, with only half the time being taken up with fights breaking out between them, while Tom and I were able to kick back with our drinks, and have a conversation, or just stare blankly into space. We were beginning to feel far more free, in that if we wanted to all sit round the kitchen table eating fish, chips and mushy pea at 10 o'clock at night, then that's what we did (only on holiday mind).
However a few days in, it became abundantly clear that the kids getting older doesn't necessarily equal things getting easier. With their blossoming maturity also comes them having their own (very forthright) opinions about, well, everything: what they wear, what we eat, where we go and what we do. Where we used to be able to bundle them in the car and do what WE wanted to do, and they would be none the wiser, we now have a little dictatorship going on in the back seat of the car yelling 'WE WANT TO GO TO THE BEACH', and they whinge and sulk and say 'I'm booored' if the beach hasn't been factored into our immediate plans.
Don't get me wrong, I love the beach, but by the fifth day on the trot, being in the rain and wind, watching them get cold and wet and dirty, with Tom next to me annoyed that he's going to have to carry an angry, shivering Dolly, two buckets and spades, and four layers of discarded clothing up a slippery cliff path back to the car, things start to get a bit wearing.
A far cry from feeling more free, Tom and I have been feeling pretty trapped; trapped at the beach, trapped in pasta and sausages, and trapped in 'let's not let Mummy and Daddy even go to the loo without having an opinion about it'.
I tried to have a reasoned conversation with Betty about the whole thing, and she replied: 'But Mummy, I know that this holiday is for grown-ups too. And I really don't mind you taking me to grown-up places and things, like churches or houses. I will let you do that Mummy'.
No prizes for guessing where we ended up this morning.