This week, a gap emerges between my wife and me, until Netflix saves the day.
There is a gap opening up in our marriage. My wife is big into last-minute surprises for the kids. I’m all about the anticipation, tell them early so we can all enjoy the build-up to a trip away or whatever. The added bonus in my approach is that you have something to threaten to withdraw if they won’t eat their dinner/stop fighting/get out of bed/being kids basically. This is why my wife usually cracks, so if there’s a holiday coming up, it’s usually common knowledge a few months before.
We invented a guy called José before a trip to Spain last year, one phone call to him and our mobile home was going to be handed to a German boy and his family on the waiting list. This might put our kids off Germans for life, but it got a lot of porridge eaten in our house.
Anyway, my wife’s view is that something unforeseen might happen and the kids would be devastated if we couldn’t go. I always thought it would be worth it for all the eaten porridge – until this week.
If you’ve been reading this every Friday, you’ll know that we were planning a week in France starting today (as I write. ) We booked this holiday in early June when the relaxation of lockdown restrictions was accelerating and it seemed like we’d be back to normal in early July.
Only a week ago, this still looked like a runner, when Leo Varadkar came out and said they’d publish the green list of countries that were considered safe for travel on July 9. So last Friday, I started doing the ‘this time next week’ fantasising about sun and lunchtime beers that we all do coming up to our holidays. Saturday morning, I checked my phone and saw that the date was pushed out to July 20.
The rest of the weekend saw myself and my wife having cryptic conversations over our kids’ heads, trying to figure out what to do. We watched Micheal Martin's press conference, where the men in suits basically said that people who left Ireland should be pitchforked in the town square. (That’s what it sounded like to us anyway.) We decided not to go.
I wrote a begging email to the company which rented us the mobile home, and it gave us most of our money back as a voucher for next year, which was super sound of them given how late we cancelled. I nearly collapsed with relief. I could hardly move for the rest of the day, now that we’d finally made up our minds.
A week in the sun wasn’t worth all the second-guessing about green lists and checking forums on boards.ie to see what other people thought of taking a foreign holiday right now. We had managed to create a ball of anxiety for ourselves, that faded away once we decided to bail out. The only problem now is my wife was right - thanks to Covid-19, you never know what’s going to happen next.
The new Netflix show The Floor is Lava is a game show where a team of three people have to get across an obstacle course of ‘lava’ (hot bubbling water with red food colouring.) It’s outlandishly addictive, the best family viewing I’ve seen since the kids got too old for Peppa Pig. (I still miss Peppa.) It saved us last week, when our minds were addled with 'will we stay or will we go' to France, when we’d sit down with the kids and laugh our heads off at Americans bouncing their chins off a slippery table and sliding into the lava.
Within days our two kids had built their own Floor is Lava setup out the back and would spend hours going back and forward, making it a little harder every time. The sound of them laughing out the back would make up for any lost holiday.