This weekend I took Littleboy camping for the first time.
I was excited to do this with him as this is the kind of activity I had envisaged us doing together as soon as he was born. My dad was great with me as a kid taking my camping and cycling and I want to ensure that Littleboy has a chance to have the same kind of memories. At two and a half he’s a bit young for camping but he was still delighted to see the tent set up with his Peppa Pig sleeping bag and little torch.
We were set up in my uncle’s holiday home, around an hour down the coast from Dublin. The location is fantastic and feels a million miles from the city, with lots of wildflowers, open space for the kids to run around and a lazy path running down to a pretty beach.
Also along were my brother and his three kids (boys), my cousin and his wife with their five kids (boys) as well as my parents and my uncle. My parents don’t get to see all their grand-kids in the same place too often so it was a big deal for them, as well as being good for all of the kids to meet each other.
For once the sun even came out and we went down to the beach where Littleboy proceeded to run straight in with all his clothes on….meaning daddy had to strip off and follow quick smart. It was great fun cavorting in the sea and playing with body boards and a big inflatable boat.
Later the kids all ran around in the garden, raiding the neighbours giant trampoline and generally being a gang of nine boys on the loose. Littleboy had a ball and ran his heart out after all the others – he is the youngest by a year.
We had a barbecue after which with help from my mother we put the wee lad to bed in the tent, he was so tired he drifted off to sleep in no time, chuckling to himself at the excitement of sleeping in the garden.
The milky way was out in all its glory and we all sat around a log fire drinking beers and chatting.
My cousins sadly saw their sister die by suicide late in 2007. I could sense her presence everywhere in this, the house where she would have spent many of her holidays as she grew up. And so, while we didn’t dwell on her, her name did come up several times during the course of the day. I made a point of referencing her a couple of times as I wanted to acknowledge her during my first time meeting her siblings since her 1 year anniversary mass.
So I was a little hurt to note that no-one made the slightest reference to Littlegirl or asked how my wife was doing these days. To me it got to the point that I started to wonder if they even knew that we had had a baby girl who had died.
Later in the evening we got to talking about how many boys there were in the family. My cousin proceeded to agree and say jokingly that no-one had produced a girl yet. I was taken aback and just said “we’ll see what we can do.” I’m not even sure he noticed, but I could feel my brother and my mam looking at me across the fire.
I went to bed soon after, spending the night half awake trying to make sure that Littleboy was under the covers as he kept rolling into contact with the inner and outer sheets of the tent – where he would end up getting wet and cold. He slept like a log though and woke me up at twenty past six!
We pottered around for a couple of hours and my mother got up to give him his breakfast and get him dressed. We took him down to the beach and by the time we got back everyone else was beginning to stir.
I decided to head home as I had run out of clothes and food for Littleboy so I packed up the tent and got ready to leave. The others gradually set off for the beach until just my brother and his kids and my folks were there to say goodbye to us.
This was yesterday morning, and they all new that I had a tough day ahead today (see next post) so they said goodbye and good luck.
As we pulled away in the car I started to feel very low at the thought that they were all going to have fun and play on the beach while I faced the prospect of what Irishmam and I had to do today. I spent the drive home getting more and more upset at how everything has turned out, and the rest of the day more sad than I have been for a long time.