(*Not actually true.)
So. we’re having a fantastic time here in central Florida, and not even the weird splotches of fake tan on my foot can dampen my enthusiasm for being back in a place where it’s sunny all the time, and the local ZARA is open until 11pm every night. Max, meanwhile, is having the time of his life: there, are, however, a few things about being on holiday with a toddler which make it literally the hardest thing in the entire world, ever: and by “literally” I obviously mean “figuratively” here, and also, “I am totally just exaggerating for dramatic effect: please don’t send me ‘grammar nazi’ emails explaining what ‘literally’ means, or post comments telling me how lucky I am, because then I’ll have to write a follow-up post called, ‘Things That Make Writing Light-Hearted Blog Posts Harder Than Nuclear Physics’, and the whole cycle will start again.”
I’ve made this awkward now, haven’t I? Let’s just jump right in, then, shall we, with this TOTALLY LIGHTHEARTED AND NOT EVEN REMOTELY SERIOUS blog post? Here are some of the things that make holidaying with a toddler a bit like being on one of those hidden camera shows, where you’re presented with some kind of totally ridiculous situation, just so people can laugh at your attempts to deal with it…
Putting sunscreen on the toddler
“Coming this winter, from Forever Amber Productions, the impossible new video game, ‘Putting Sunscreen on a Toddler’. Pit your wits and test your reactions against the wiliest, craziest foe you’ve ever encountered: a 16-month-old toddler who just wants to jump straight into the pool before you’ve finished lathering him in SPF50. Progress through the levels to face the ultimate boss: Toddler On The Beach. CAN YOU OUTWIT HIM? You’re about to find out…”
Seriously, though, who do I pitch this to? Because if there’s something harder than putting sunscreen on a wriggling, squirming baby, who is 100% planning to just stand up and run away halfway through the procedure, I REALLY don’t want to know what it is. Putting Max’s sunscreen on is currently a three-man/woman job: it takes one person to hold him still, one person to actually apply the sunscreen, and a third person to dance around in front of him, singing ‘Downtown’ by Petula Clark, which is, slightly bizarrely, his favourite song. And to think that daytime drinking is frowned upon!
Getting him in and out of a baby swimsuit
Have you ever tried putting on a pair of Spanx that are a few sizes too small? OK, imagine doing that while drunk, and also while covered in grease, say, or something else super-slippy. This would still be at least 5X easier than getting a toddler into a swimsuit, but it does, at least, give you SOME idea of what it’s like.
Again, the boss level in this particular game involves getting the toddler in and out of his swimsuit on the beach. Where there is sand. And groups of interested onlookers. And, again, while I said you should imagine trying to do this drunk, it’s important to remember that it’s frowned upon to actually BE drunk in this situation, so, yeah. Sucks to be you, hey?
The Battle of the Hat
Before we left the UK, I bought Max a selection of sunhats, carefully chosen so that, no matter what he was wearing, he would have a hat to match.
As soon as we got here, Max took each hat in turn, and tossed it into the swimming pool. Or the street. Or under the wheels of his pushchair. Anywhere, really, other than on his head. (And yes, I know he’s wearing a hat in most of these photos, but that’s only because the photos were all taken in a three-minute period shortly after we arrived at the splash pad, and while he was still too distracted by the water. Then he snatched the hat off his head and tossed it into the water. My most-repeated phrases on this trip are, “HAT STAYS ON, PLEASE!” and, “But what if he burns his scalp?!” )
Highchairs are for babies
Last, but by no means least, comes the nightly Battle of the High Chair, in which no less than four adults compete to persuade Max to remain in his restaurant high chair until his food arrives. Max meanwhile, passes this time in a number of ways:
01. Pointing out the ceiling fans to random passers-by and instructing then to turn them off. (“FAN! OFF! OFF!”
02. Pointing to his fellow diners, and yelling, “MAN!” or “LADY!” as he feels appropriate. How long will it be before he seriously offends someone, I can’t help but wonder?
03. Pointing at the doors to the kitchen and shouting, “CHIPPIES! CHIPPIES!” (‘Chippies’ being ‘chips’, or ‘fries’, btw. He likes them. A lot.)
04. Choosing one person – apparently at random – to stare creepily at for the duration of the meal.
We’ve been doing our best to avoid all of this by taking him out of the restaurant for a walk as soon as we’ve placed our orders. We’ve spent a lot of time in parking lots on this trip. Also a lot of time under tables, picking up the toys we brought to distract him, and which he instantly cast to the ground, like a sunhat.
We’re having take-out tonight, needless to say. It’s a good job he’s cute, no?