So the Stay At Home Dad didn’t actually stay at home for the majority of the recent holidays. Now THAT’S irony, Ms Alanis Morrissette (Google it, kids!).
I packed up the kids and we set off on a grand voyage to the Middle East. I’d like to make some witty comparison between me with the 3 kids, and the 3 wise men, the Middle East and all that, but I still have enough latent Catholic education in me to fear eternal damnation.
My good wife is the organiser in our family, so this was my first big undertaking on my own. I thought I’d messed it up at the first hurdle when the Dublin airport hotel couldn’t find the reservation for our overnight stay. But it turned out the Native just couldn’t understand my foreign culchie accent.
After that, the trip over went fairly smoothly. After arrival, paperwork and admin needed taking care of, including blood typing and x-rays for me and the eldest. What we failed to realise though is that it’s a big no-no to wear shorts in any government building.
Eldest child baring his pale legs to the Arabs was not a good move.
But in fairness to the manager, he not only let us in, but rushed us through so the offending limbs wouldn’t be on display for too long. I can’t imagine this pleased the many other people waiting – not only were we blatantly flouting the rules, we were being given privileges for being white, and skipping the long queues.
I could feel many eyes burning into the back of my sweating head as we went through the processes.
Another quirk of the admin system over there is the relaxed attitude to opening hours. We went to one office that was to close at 5 pm. We arrived at 4.30 pm to closed doors and lights off. We checked with the office next door, who informed us that yes, they do close at 5 pm (officially), but they had all gone home! We went to another branch that was to close at 7 pm (we rang and checked). They did indeed close at 7 pm, but the receptionist (where you have to check in) goes home at 5.30 pm!!
A couple of other highlights of the trip included:
- Belting around the desert in a 4×4. Great fun, but all the bumping and shaking really highlighted where a SAHD may need to shed a few pounds! Jiggling about in a dusty Toyota is not the best look I’ve ever pulled off.
- Adventure rooms. Where you and your family are locked into a series of rooms and need to solve puzzles to escape. A great idea – make people pay to be held hostage with their loved ones, lose their tempers, and end up feeling stupid for not figuring out basic puzzles!
- Most mornings were spent by the pool. The eldest child would only put his feet in (coz he’s cool and we’re the opposite of that). Middle child would spend most of the day in the water, demanding everyone else get in. Youngest would eventually get in, get cold and get out again, coincidentally just as I sat down to read.
- The massive shopping centres. One had an ice rink in the middle, another had a canal running through it, complete with gondolas! They also had everything from groceries to 80” TVs and everything in between, all in one shop.
- At the amazing (and spotless) children’s playgrounds, they have exercise equipment for the adults so you can work out while watching your child play. Brilliantly simple idea. In theory anyway – I didn’t actually go so far as to try it out, despite the desert jiggling incident.
- Brunch in the top hotels around the city. Where everyone gets dressed up, pays (a not insignificant amount) and has access to unlimited food and drink for 4 hours. They had separate bars for gin, vodka and whiskey-based cocktails for God’s sake!!
On the way home, we almost missed our connecting flight in Istanbul, while our suitcases did indeed miss it.
Because we were gone for most of Christmas and new years, I now sit here with a very sad looking Christmas tree and a great many Roses, Celebrations and biscuits, determined to be eaten.
Who am I to deny them their destiny?