Thursday, 19 March 2009

Island Trip Part 3

Went to Oban with Sister and the boys. Sister needed to go to a meeting about building the family home, so she took both boys out of school and left them with me for the day. I have to admit, I was pretty uneasy about looking after 2 tearaway boys and a baby all by myself - but Fisher came to my rescue, amazing woman that she is, by volunteering to drive all the way over to help me out. This meant I was left with the 3 of them for only a couple of hours, and we spent that time in the Atlantis Leisure Centre soft play room. It ended up being a piece of cake.

We then moved on to the beach, just round the headland. I've seen nicer beaches. In fact, I've seen nicer sludge packing factories, but it didn't bother the boys. Tertius napped merrily in his buggy while Gemmill and Wrecker played football with me until it was time to head back into Oban for lunch.

We went to Eeusk, which is a pleasant fish restaurant on the pier. Gemmill insisted on ordering a bowl of mussels for himself. He also wanted oysters, but I persuaded him to only order one, just to try it. I was quite firm with him over mussels as well, saying that if he ordered them and didn't like them, that was tough luck. He couldn't have anything else. He insisted that he "luuuurved them" so a bowl of mussels it was.

When they arrived, along with Wrecker's fish and chips, the waitress was astonished to hear they were for him, and put them before him with an "oh" of surprise. She was even more astounded to discover the oyster was for him, too. I waited for Gemmill to take one bite of mussel and whine "I don't liike it." But I showed him how to eat the first mussel with his fork, then use the mussel shell as pincers, which he enjoyed - and devoured each mussel with the gusto of a starving hound dog. Wrecker, too, was very pleased with the mussels, which he kept pinching off Gemmill's plate.

It was, in fact, a very enjoyable lunch - which I think is the first time I've said that. Sister was quite late in getting to us, and they started getting very bored before she'd finished eating her food, but otherwise they were pretty angelic. I went off in the car to check on Baffie and Bridie, who were curled up in the new car (Baby), sleeping like lambs. It took approximately 3 days for me to decide the 'no dogs in Baby' rule was impractical, but I still maintain that they have to stay out as much as possible, and DEFINITELY don't go in when they're fluffy and gross. They're sleek as otters right now, so don't make nearly as much mess as, for example, me.

After lunch we headed out to Dunstaffnage castle, where the boys kicked the football around a bit and we gave the dogs a bit of exercise. Then it was back to Oban for Tesco, buying the boys some bicycle helmets, and back to the hotel for tea and DVD. We waved goodbye to the life saving Fisher, and I started counting the minutes before she swoops back to the rescue (Tuesday).

Exhausted, more mentally than physically, I was delighted to hear Sister suggest a takeaway after the boys were 'down', and even more delighted when she said she'd go and get it. I was less delighted when, at 9pm, with Sister off getting the food, the fire alarm in the Caledonian Hotel went off.

My first reaction was "oh for fuck's sake." I half expected it to stop of its own accord, but when it didn't after 10 seconds or so, I leapt into action. I'd been left with the baby monitor and the charge of the kiddies, so down I went to Sister's room. They were all still fast asleep, although Gemmill was just beginning to stir, his hands to his ears and a look of discomfort on his face. I woke him up and got him to get his boots on. He was worried and watched my every move with big eyes, but did as I said. I tried to get Wrecker up, but that boy sleeps like a dead thing, and he simply wouldn't be roused. I told Gemmill to wake him while I got Tertius from his cot, but he had no more joy than I did, so I had to try and lift him up as well as Tertius. I couldn't do it, so thank God for Gemmill, to whom I was able to give Tertius - the fattest, heaviest baby you ever did see - and lift Wrecker. He immediately started to cry. Unfortunately, Gemmill couldn't carry Tertius, so I had to take him back and carry both him and the large, unwieldy form of 3 year old Wrecker as well.

I'd like to take a moment's pause here and wonder what the hell I would have done if I were built like, say, Koios. There's no way Koi could have carried both baby and large toddler. I found it took most of my strength. Three children are not easy to manage, and my hat goes off to anyone who does so.

Anyway, down the two long flights of stairs we headed, and I was rescued by a man who must have been either a grandfather or a man with several years of fatherhood behind him. He took Wrecker with practiced ease and murmured comforting things to him as he screamed in his ear. Gemmill was scared at first, but seemed to listen when I pooh-poohed all the fuss as almost certainly a false alarm, and was very good and calm.

We went outside, across the road, and the fire engine turned up with lights flashing and siren squealing. This was very satisfactory, as far as Gemmill was concerned, but Wrecker continued to cry and cry. Not long after, Sister returned from the curry house and greeted us with blazing fury. This, apparently, was the second time a fire alarm had disturbed them during a stay, and the first time had caused all sorts of long-term repercussions for Gemmill, who'd had nightmares about fire for weeks. I stopped myself from pointing out that it could, actually, be a real fire - because I didn't believe it myself, and because it would hardly be helpful when I'd spent all that time reassuring Gemmill with the thought of a false alarm.

It was, of course, nothing more than the exhaust from a shower that set it off, so we were soon back in the Cally. Gemmill was wide awake, but after a bit was persuaded to settle with Shaun the Sheep on DVD. Sister and I were therefore allowed to enjoy our long-awaited curry.

This disrupted evening has meant that today, the day we've got off the 6am ferry, the boys have been regular terrors. Gemmill has had several tantrums, told Sister he hates her, told me he hates me, and hidden under various tables in right royal sulks. Wrecker hasn't been so bad, but even he's on the cusp and is now fast asleep on the sofa, meaning he'll be furious when he wakes. He always cries for ages after a nap.

The moral of all this is that, while I'd still like to have had the choice myself rather than nature doing it for me, I have absolutely no desire to have children. I'm not fond of babies. They cry far too much, and even when they're happy I feel no attachment to them. They do not engage my brain in any way. Small children are better, especially when they get to an age where, sponge-like, they want to learn things - but even then, they simply exhaust me too much. I am not of equable temperament, and you simply can't have mood swings with children.

So, while I'm not at the end of my tether yet, I'm very glad to be back on Island with a stable routine around me. Both boys will be back at school tomorrow, which will give us a bit of a break - at least until 11.30, when Wrecker needs to be picked up from nursery - and then I've got the weekend and Monday to get through before Fisher arrives with the pooooooches!

Can't wait.