Sometimes life seems like one long roller coaster ride, with so many highs and a few lows along the way. Our recent holiday was a real high point, we made lots of memories and saw Monkey’s confidence take another step forward. The last few weeks has been all about roller coasters and suspension bridges, as Monkey has surprised us at ever turn. But with every high, comes a low.
We went to Portugal, a first for the three of us, we were staying at a hotel my parents know well, in Silves, but it was an unknown for us. How would Monkey cope with it all? I guess the low point was the late evening eating. It was the first time ever we’d really deviated from his normal bedtime and eating routine. I’d love to tell you it was a major success, but it wasn’t. If he’d had a siesta then maybe things would have been better, but he didn’t. He was over tired by the time we went out, add in the fussy/I only want to eat pizza scenario, and it didn’t lend itself to relaxed dining. But he did like decided the route back to the hotel each evening, and loved sitting in the hotel lounge having a late night drink before bedtime. So it wasn’t all bad.
The evenings may have been slightly fraught, but the day times made up for it. In general, Monkey was well-behaved, and grasped at every new adventure. There were so many moments where we could all see how much he’d grown in confidence. It had been exactly a year since my parents had last seen him, and they could see the difference too.
A trip to Silves castle, saw him pulling Daddy P along as he walked the ramparts. There wasn’t even a moment’s hesitation.
He was off. Look Mummy, we can see the hotel. He really loved our hotel.
You may recall all the dramas we had with swimming lessons, my distress at finally cancelling them. I was interested to see how he would react at the hotel swimming pool. We came aware knowing without any doubt that Monkey isn’t afraid of the water. He spent hours in the pools at the hotel, he loved every moment. We didn’t quite get the arm bands off, but he was in his element. His issue was clearly just with the lessons.
Next stop the beach. Living in Oxfordshire we are about as far away from the beach as you can get in England. I’m ashamed to say that the last time we’d been on a beach was a year ago in Spain. Then, Monkey had loved every moment, but had been a bit hesitant of venturing into the sea. This time, there was so fear, just instant joy. He loved splashing about as the waves rolled onto the beach. He loved walking along the beach with all of us. Chasing the waves, getting wet feet. Having lots of fun. It was a joy to watch.
One day we visited Parque da Mina and after walking round an old manor house we explored the grounds. Before leaving we had a chance to see a small waterfall. Yes Mummy, I want to see it. So off we headed down some steep steps, unsure of what we were to find. In times gone my, Monkey would either have refused to even venture down the steps, or would have clung to me. This time, he was away, down the steps and when we discovered a suspension bridge, he was off. Straight on it, laughing away as he swung it when Mummy walked onto it. No fear, no trepidation, none at all.
At Zoo de Lagos, he happily disappeared with Granny and had a great time getting to know the Meerkats. Normally he refuses to feed any animals, but Granny bought him some food for the waterfowl and he was away. He did get pecked on the hand by a rather protective mother Swan, there were tears but it wasn’t going to stop him enjoying the rest of the trip. That incident would probably have resulted in a meltdown and insistence that we left before now. He may love tractors, but getting him to ever sit on one, or any vehicle for that matter, has always, pretty much proved fruitless. Until that day. I turned round to find my son clambering on a tractor, by himself. Look Mummy! Look!
We made so many memories in our week in Portugal, I’ll be sharing them in more detail in the weeks ahead. I thought I’d seen it all as far as Monkey was concerned, but he was still hold back. There were more magical roller coasters and suspension bridges moments ahead.
A while ago I won a family ticket to Drayton Manor Park. Monkey loves Thomasland so I knew he’d be thrilled. I asked my friend L if she’d like to join us with her son C, who’s nearly 7. We headed off up the motorway and I have to be honest, I was a little anxious. Monkey isn’t great at sharing and not getting his own way. How would the day pan out? The boys took it in turns to pick a ride for us to go on, and in general Monkey was very good when it wasn’t his turn to pick. He could have been a bit more gracious and let C join us at the front of the Polperro Express, and our attempt to play Air Hockey turned into a meltdown. But overall it all went much better than I’d feared. We explored more of the theme park than we normally would.
My friend suggested that we went on the Buffalo Coaster in the main park. No loop the loops so a good one for the kids to try. I dismissed the idea straight away, no we’ll never get Monkey on a roller coaster. But through the day we both pointed the ride out to the boys, and suddenly Monkey said, Mummy can we go on that ride next? Yes Monkey we can. It was one of those moments. Seize it and pray that you aren’t the worst mother in the world at the end of it!
Oh my word. He loved it, he loved every single second of it. He giggled his way round the whole ride, once it had stopped he wanted to get straight back on it. Time was running out before the rides were due to stop for the day, so I suggested that he tried the Troublesome Trucks ride back in Thomasland. A ride he’s always refused point-blank to consider in the past. Ok, Mummy. Let’s go.
We stopped at a few favourites en-route but got there in the end. I thought this ride was actually faster than Buffalo Coaster, would he still be ok. Oh yes! The adrenaline junkie within my son has awoken. He loved it and if time had been on our side he’d have been on both rides again and again. I didn’t get to photograph the roller coaster action, but my friend took this one, the smile was there to tell the tale.
It’s wonderful watching Monkey as he tries new things, wanders away from my side a little more. He’s growing up, taking more risks and having so much fun. It’s a double-edged sword this motherhood malarkey. I want to protect him and keep him close, but I also want him to run free and find his own path in life. It’s a contradiction isn’t it. Heart strings are tugged at, but there are some wonderful moments of joy along the way.