On trying to raise global children

Warning: You won't BELIEVE what lies beneath (readers with a faint-hearted disposition, look away now!)
Warning: You won’t BELIEVE what lies beneath (readers with a faint-hearted disposition, look away now!)

Raptor (formerly known as Son1) pulled his first all-nighter on us last night. I’d felt sure he’d fall fast asleep as soon as we took off from Vienna. The signs were all there as we waited at the gate after our Eid getaway – glassy eyes, voice raised in an over-tired fight with Son2, a whiny tone, his face waxy-white as though it had been lightly dusted with flour. I glanced at my watch: it was past midnight Dubai time.

As soon as we were airbourne, I put my seat back. I’d only been staring at the luggage bins for half a minute when I succumbed to sleep.

The next thing I was aware of was the plane juddering.


Over the sound of seatbelts being buckled up came the captain’s voice. “Good news,” he said, “we’ve just started our descent into Dubai. We should have you on the ground in about 25 minutes.”

DH leaned over from the row behind. “Good luck waking him up,” he said, nodding to Raptor, “he’s only just dropped off.”

Astonished, I prodded and poked him, then finally managed to jostle him awake – he had indeed spent the whole five hours watching movies in the dark. Happy that such a night of uninterrupted viewing actually existed.

Arriving back into the brilliant early-morning light must then have told his brain to stay awake. At home, sun streamed through the patio door. The effect was warm, a homely glow falling over the furniture. Raptor blinked and reached for some electronic stimulation. I’ll admit I was already half way up the stairs to catch a nap.

Later, we sat around chatting about the trip. “What was your best bit?” DH asked me.

Hello Mozart!
Hello Mozart!

I thought for a few moments. I loved Vienna. From the imperial grandeur of this once powerful centre of the Hapsburg monarchy to the opulence of the Schönbrunn Palace, the Austrian capital is an unforgettable city, steeped in history and the birthplace of too many great musicians to shake a baton at. “All of it,” I said. “I loved it all.”

“And what was your best bit?” DH asked Raptor.

I felt sure he’d say the bones. We’d pushed the boat out, you see, to make sure – as you do – that the kids had a memorable time.

I thought we’d surely trumped ourselves on the tour of the cathedral’s catacombs. Shocking doesn’t even begin to describe it. First, you visit the old catacombs where the internal organs of members of the royal family are stored in urns. Then, in the ‘new’ catacombs you see the skeletons of thousands of plague victims. Most chilling were the brick caverns stacked high with neatly arranged bones – a 17th century space-saving concept, illuminated, for the benefit of modern visitors, by dim, yellowish electric lights. It was a dark highlight, if ever I’ve seen one. My sons had been stunned into silence.

I waited. Maybe I was wrong. Perhaps his most memorable moment had been when we’d raced down a platform to catch a glimpse of his favourite European train. Or ridden a tram to tick that box. Surely all this had been more interesting than the movies on the plane? Well, you’d think so, wouldn’t you?

“Erm,” he said, crinkling his forehead. A deep perplexed line appeared between his eyes as though someone had drawn it there with a pencil. “Can you just remind me what we did again?”

Gah! I guess you just have to assume that when you travel with kids, it all sinks in on some level … right?

3 thoughts on “On trying to raise global children

  1. Story of my life. Mine used to rate their holidays based on the quality of in-flight entertainment, which always drove me mad. It’s only now that they’re young adults (18 and 22) that I’m realizing that they were, indeed, paying attention to that other stuff. It is always a pleasure to discover that some of the things we did with them did, actually, sink in. I’m sure he’ll have plenty to say about those bones to his mates – just wait and see! ; )

    • So true MsCaroline! I was looking at very old holiday photos with my mum this summer. I had such a sulky face in some of them. Yet now my memories of these trips as a teenager are such a part of who I am. And I’m sooo grateful my parents went to the effort to take me places! My kids also rate their holiday on the hotel, their favourite being the hotel we stayed in in Birmingham. Something about they liked the carpet!

  2. My father has just asked Littleboy 1 about our summer holiday in Italy. He described it in great detail – in terms of what meals he had when. Nothing about what he saw, even the lovely house where we stayed and the fun he had with his cousins. It was all, then we had pizza, and then I had a really delicious ice cream. I suppose at least he will remember that Italian food is good….

Comments are closed.