One or two people were a bit judgey about the idea of taking a 6-month old away. “So, you’re taking him on holiday?” Yeah. “Abroad?” Yeah. “Somewhere hot??” Yeah. “On an aeroplane??” …By which point I was tempted to answer: “No, me and Lyns will be going on the plane, but we thought we’d get Charlie there by driving him to Dover and firing him out of a f*cking cannon”.
What I actually said was: “It’ll be fine”. And you know what? It was.
Here’s some other stuff I learnt holidaying with our tiny human..
– We had a checklist for what to pack, it had just one item on it:.. ‘Everything’
The amount of stuff you need to take for a weekend is comical.. to go away for a whole week its roughly the same amount of stuff that the nazis took to invade Poland.
– Don’t take an expensive pram on a flight.. The moment you check-in and that pushchair disappears behind that rubber curtain it is collected by two WWF wrestlers who smash it against a wall for half an hour.. before it is transferred to the runway, where they reverse the plane over it a couple of times before placing it in the hold.
At your destination.. for some bizarre reason you have to collect whatever is left of your pram (a wheel) from a baggage carousel that’s f*cking miles away.. (I’m sure our stroller ended up closer to the airport we’d just left).
– One of our worries about the flight was that we’d get seated next to someone unhappy about being near a baby.. We hoped to be sat next to a kindly old Angela Lansbury type, with a soft spot for babies.. In the end we got sat next to a woman who had a face like a cats arse being burned at the stake..
To be honest, we didn’t care.. after 6 months we’re developing a thick skin for this sort of crap.. Some people have a problem with babies, whether they’re sat next to them in a restaurant or on a flight.. These people are what my dear old nan used to call ‘arseholes’. (Also, I suspect that if the woman in question had greeted us with a smile, rather than a roll of her eyes, we’d have been more inclined to tell her that she’d come back from the toilet with her skirt stuck in her tights, and was showing everyone her arse).
– When airlines say they have ‘baby changing facilities’ what they actually mean is: ‘a shelf’.
– Changing a baby in a plane toilet is like the hardest round on ‘The Cube’. Basically ..imagine trying to carve a turkey in a phone-box.. now half the size of the f*cking phone box, and arrange for an incontinent dickhead to bang on the door every five seconds.
– If your baby will sit quietly during the flight that’s great , if they will sleep.. even better. If like Charlie, your little one likes to ‘stand’ up all the time.. You can look forward to, what feels like a midget river-dancing on your bollocks for the next four hours.
– Baby Passports are, as I suspected, a rip off.. I’ve said before that all babies look like Ross Kemp, but the idea that any baby is still going to be recognisable on their passport photo 5 years after their birth is insane…. Besides which the immigration people barely even glanced at it.. Charlie could have sailed through passport control with a drawing of Gregg Wallace on the back of a beer-mat (..and it wouldn’t have cost us 50-odd quid).
– As for the heat.. It turns out taking a baby to a hot country is fine.. people in scorching climates have babies quite a lot, so it’s a bit daft for us to think that if we take a baby to a sunny place they will suddenly burst into flames, like someone’s opened the curtains on a vampire. It’s just common sense, ..shade, avoiding midday and applying factor thrumpteen suncream.
(Just a note on suntan lotion.. let it dry off before picking them up or anything, otherwise its like wrestling a seal that’s just left a massage parlour .. Charlie was in less danger from the sun than he was from me juggling him like a bar of soap).
– Even with all precautions there is a threat from the sun. To you. You will burn. You will be so preoccupied with keeping the sun off the baby.. You. will. burn. As I write this my face is a haunting red. (I think I applied suncream to myself once in the whole week). In fairness, I did mention to Lyns, before we went, that I wanted to come back with a bit of colour.. I just didn’t particularly want that colour to be the same as an angry baboon’s penis.
– Sandy beaches are a bad idea. A six month old baby puts everything in reaching distance in their mouth so, in hindsight, sitting them down to play on four acres of powdered glass is a bit dim.
– Unless you’re willing to use gaffer tape and a stapler, it is easier to get a squid to wear a bum-bag than to get a baby to wear sunglasses and a hat.
Finally, what I would say to anyone considering taking their baby on holiday is this: ..Go.
For all its pissy little challenges, to spend time together, away from our newly destroyed home, was incredibly special..
I will always remember Charlie’s face as he curled his toes in the sand for the first time. ..His delight at being pushed around a hotel pool on the back of an inflatable crocodile. ..And, his fascination as we sat on a bench, hand-feeding a sparrow some crisps, overlooking the deep blue of the mediterranean sea.
..Small price to pay that it was the same colour blue as my trampled bollocks after the flight home.
Man vs Baby’s Matt Coyne is from Sheffield, South Yorkshire. In September 2015, Matt’s life was turned upside down by the arrival of his son Charlie. After three months of parenthood, he logged on to social media and wrote a viral post about his experience of having to live with ‘a furious, sleep-murdering, unstable and incontinent, breasts-obsessed midget lodger’.
Following this, Matt created Man vs Baby, which now has over 360,000 followers. And has written two Sunday Times bestselling books based on his parental triumphs and disasters, the first entitled: ‘Dummy’ and the second ‘Man vs Toddler’.
He has also written for The Guardian, The Telegraph and GQ Magazine.
Matt lives in Sheffield with his son Charlie, his partner Lyndsay and a Jack Russell terrier with ‘issues’ called Eddie.