Colouring outside the lines. Slipping beyond the boundaries. Leaving schedules shivering in the morning chill as the plane takes off for sunnier places. Forgetting the routine that wraps up the day during the rest of the year. That’s the theory anyway. But as soon as we arrived in Spain, I realised boundaries were up for discussion at every turn.
We needed to agree with the girls how far they could go in the pool without checking with us. Stay in this pool, come back if you’re switching pool. But what about going around the island and over to the slides, out of sight they asked? I needed to think about that. By the end of the holiday, I still didn’t have the answer.
We needed to discuss water guns with my smallest – specifically shooting strangers who may or may not know they’re involved in his game. What if they shoot me first? Then they’re fair game. I think. Unless they weren’t really shooting you and just hit you by accident the way you sometimes hit other people by accident. Maybe just shoot the air. Inside the pool. Without splashing anyone. Actually, here’s an ice-cream, I’ll mind your gun.
We had to remind the same child about chatting to strangers – not because we’re afraid he’ll be kidnapped, but there’s only so much five-year-old monologue any adult can handle on an otherwise chilled out afternoon by a pool. The rescues were many, as were the ah he’s grand nods in my direction.
We had to tell the kids not to cross other people’s gardens – there were no boundaries between the houses, just grass in between, but the couples quietly drinking sparkling rosé on their patios didn’t necessarily need three loud kids streaking past.
We wondered about bedtime as we watched kids the same age as ours still cycling around the campsite at midnight. Should we wake them to get up and do more holiday-like midnight cycling? And are mine the only ones who can’t function without sleep?
We’d left our rules and our fences at home, but up cropped a whole host of new ones, and we weren’t always sure where to slot them.
Perhaps holidays aren’t so much about leaving boundaries behind as pushing them out, stretching them, testing them, trying something new. Swimming further, but not too far. Staying up later, but not too late. And taking a first ever ride on a rollercoaster. That broken boundary was all mine.
We were in Port Aventura theme part, and it was my intention to hold the proverbial jackets. But then there was the roller coaster that my small boy couldn’t go on unless I went with him. And he looked up at me, with a mix of pleading and command in his eyes, and said “Face your fears, Mum. I faced mine, now you face yours.”
I did ask him what his were and he said heights, but as he clambered into yet another rollercoaster car, I had to question the veracity of that claim. Nevertheless, it’s hard to say no when a five-year-old tells you to face your fears, so in I got, for my first ever rollercoaster ride.
And I nearly died (in my head at least). I’d love to tell you I was brave and I enjoyed it, but no, I closed my eyes, screamed, and gripped my small child’s hand for the entire thing. But it must have been a turning point of some kind; a flipping of a switch, because I did it again later on, and then went on a water rollercoaster with my husband and the three kids, although I wasn’t technically needed at all, and it was the best fun of the whole day.
I don’t think I’ll ever be the parent they associate with boundary pushing though. As we were leaving the park, twelve and a half hours after we arrived, I said to my eight-year-old, “How are you still going – where do you get the energy?”
“From Dad I guess,” she said with a grin, “Not from you anyway Mum.” Maybe I’ll go back to holding the jackets.
Here are some holiday posts and reviews including above-mentioned trip to Spain: