Taking a child who is definitely operating in toddler rather than baby mode on holiday brings with it whole new set of challenges!
Let me set the scene before I go any further. I’m writing this overlooking a stunning harbour and estuary on the penultimate day of a wonderful week in the beautiful Devon town of Salcombe. Rachael and I came here three or four years ago and completely fell in love with the place. Hook, line and sinker. It has the perfect blend of relaxation and fun. We’ve been here every year since.
Last year, we came when Fred was around nine months old. He was too young to really appreciate the beach and he didn’t quite know what was happening when we took him on a hired motorboat. I remember really clearly saying to Rachael, “I can’t wait to bring Fred back here next year.” Well, here we are.
When we arrived, we made our way to the cottage we were staying in and the first thing we were faced with was more stairs than you could shake a stick at. I reckon there are 10-15 steps up from the main street and then more to get up to the dining area. Fine last year – a complete nightmare this year. Fred is determined to climb any steps he sees and so we’ve had to watch him like a hawk.
But that doesn’t apply to just the stairs. He wants to walk everywhere himself and, broadly, we’re happy for him to do it. It just gets a bit dicey if he throws a tantrum when we tell him it might not be wise to walk along a main road or a rocky coastal path.
And while we’re talking tantrums….they’re fun aren’t they!? Fred’s newly found independence and attitude has brought with it an increasing number of tantrums. All of a sudden – almost overnight – our baby has developed an attitude; he knows what he wants and he’s pretty darned determined to get it.
I’m open to suggestions here! What is the best way to deal with tantrums thrown in public? We’ve had them when we’ve arrived at the beach, we’ve had them when we’ve tried to leave the beach, we’ve had them when he’s woken up too early from his afternoon nap and we’ve had them when we’ve turned off Fireman Sam! He’s a brilliant little boy and we’re so, so proud of him and I think a lot of his frustration comes from his inability to get his point across.
He’s going to be two in September and his speech is really coming along but he’s still not always able to explain why he does or doesn’t want something. We’re getting better at understanding, but full comprehension is still some way away.
This holiday has also been a physical challenge as we try and negotiate a golden retriever with endless energy, a child with boundless enthusiasm for getting up to no good, a heavy and unwieldy pram and 30 degree temperatures. We’ve also had friends with us who have a nine-month old baby so our days have been meticulously planned before being plotted against the preferred nap times of two children. Holidays have really changed!
Please don’t think I’m making a big deal of all of this, my overriding feeling as we come to the end of this holiday is pride in my little boy, relaxation and contentment. It’s been quite a tough old road for Rachael and I over the past few months, we actually thought we wouldn’t be able to come to Salcombe at all. It looked for a while that Rachael would need further surgery and that it would have to happen during this week. But the situation changed last minute and we hurriedly packed our bags and drove down here. I can’t even tell you just how needed this trip has been.
Fred might have been testing at times but every single difficulty has paled into insignificance when we’ve seen how happy he’s been playing in the sea or building a sandcastle. It’s magic and it’s brought back so many memories of playing on beaches with my dad.
These times are what being a daddy is all about and we’ve had a whale of a time. And it’s not over yet!! I appreciate that by the time you read this we’ll be back in probably-not-so-sunny Knutsford but as I write, we have one more day to go and the forecast is brilliant so to the beach we will go! They say that the best bit about memories is making them. Never a truer word was said.