Parenting on the Plage!
Myself and my family recently returned from a two week holiday in the South of France. Whilst I cannot glue you to your sofa’s, ply you with cheap wine and Pringles and subject you to hours of pictures and videos I can enlighten you on our little ‘episode’ on the beach!
No holiday would be complete without a trip to the beach. We happily went back to the beach we had been introduced to before, in Frejus. At the prospect of this day out my husband seemed a little too keen. I wasn’t sure if this was because of the light breeze you get on a beach to cool you down, the warm sea and the sound of the waves or the people watching. For people watching read topless sunbather watching. Nevertheless we arrived and took our place like true Brits under the shade of a palm tree, checked to see if the miserable lady was still working at the beach hut as per the year before, and settled down.
Sadly I managed to goof straight away by mentioning said miserable skin head lady in jest, not realising that the gaggle of dark bronzed ladies sat in front of us were in fact her friends. The trouble with being English in a foreign country is that you assume, as you are not speaking their language, they cannot understand you. What is the worlds most widely spoken language? Yup. But the real trouble with being English in a foreign country is that we can’t understand a word anyone else is saying. A distinct disadvantage I would say. *Makes note to learn a foreign language so I can eaves drop* Ha ha!
All was pleasant and we even managed to stifle our laughs as we watched an elderly gentleman get stuck in his deck chair, topple it over and flail about in it on his side until someone came to help him up. Little did we know we would be laughing on the other side of our faces shortly afterwards, as our children decided to have a full on punch up with fisty cuffs and everything right there on the beach in front of everyone!
Talk about Brits abroad! As they pushed and shoved, falling on to their towels with fists clenched and through gritted teeth seething at each other, I looked down trying to make up my mind as to whether to laugh, shout or act in a controlled manner. Those few seconds seemed like an eternity, as what seemed to me to be the entire population of the Cote d’Azure’s eyes fell on me for my reaction.
As a parent those split seconds where you have to make a decision about how to react can render you, in other peoples eyes, as a good solid parent with morals, values and standards or a complete raving lunatic, ally cat mum who shrieks at her kids like a fisherman’s wife (need to investigate this old saying fully, but you get my drift) and makes more of a show of herself than the kids. It’s not even about what effect it has on what the children are doing that pops first into your mind, but how other people will judge you by the way in which you handle the situation.
So what did I do? Mortified at their outburst I stood up abruptly packed my bag quietly but quickly and announced in a very calm but firm voice that we were leaving. Just like that. Just like when they were two year olds. And then I heard those fateful words creep out of my mouth. Those ones on that list that you vowed you would never say when you were a parent, that your parents once said to you….. “If you are going to act like two year olds then I shall treat you like two year olds!”
And with that we left. I felt quite smug at the way in which I dealt with the situation as my two children sobbed trailing behind me… but then from the distance I am pretty sure I could hear the old man from the deck chair laughing.