No sooner did Summer come and it's already gone. For those of us living in the North there would be a strong case for questioning whether it ever came at all. Thankfully we were fortunate enough to manage two weeks camping with close friends in the beautiful and sunny Vendee area of France. This holiday marked Rosie's first ever trip abroad which was both exciting and a little nerve wracking as we didn't know what to expect. As it happened there were very mixed reactions towards Rosie and her obvious 'difference' but that's a discussion for another time!
We had a fantastic time in all and met some truly beautiful families camping next to us from Amsterdam and Yorkshire respectively. The children of both families really took to Rosie and enjoyed entertaining her as well as being entertained! Rosie certainly made an impression on others too as she became the 'on-site alarm clock' with her rather loud morning vocal performances (my apologies to those that wanted a lie in).
I was really proud to hear that one of our neighbours had recognised one of the songs to be from the film 'Frozen'. Whilst understanding the words Rosie sings may be tricky at times, you can't mistake how tuneful she is!
Rosie especially loved the swimming pool and (eventually after many attempts) the crashing waves in the sea too.
One thing the holiday taught me was just how demanding Rosie is now becoming. Being in full-time employment (like many parents) means I only get snippets of time with my kids in the mornings and evenings, so having an uninterrupted two weeks together opened my eyes to how much time Karen spends being at Rosie's disposal with almost no time for a break.
There was a brief moment of alarm at the beach one afternoon when Rosie had somehow dissappeared from sight of our group – like some sort of Houdini act. There were six adults and umpteen kids so how she managed it is still a mystery. It was only a matter of seconds realising she wasn't there amusing herself in the sand, before two young French ladies a few meters away were waving for our attention. Sure enough there was Rosie – blissfully unaware of our panic and happily rifling through one of their handbags!
As funny as the beach scare was (in the end) it also made me realise just how desperate both Karen and I were to find rest (even if for a few seconds) from the constant need to entertain Rosie. I know I've said it before but aside from the hospital visits and the open heart surgery, Rosie really has been the easiest of our three children in the early years, so it always came as a surprise to me when I read advice from other parents stressing the importance of respite for parents/carers – something I could never really relate to until now.
We are seeing huge changes in Rosie – much of which is extremely positive, such as her increasing vocabulary and her mobility but with this has come a need for constant attention – and by that I literally mean every second. As well as her ever expanding portfolio of total cuteness there's an increasing array of shrieks, shriels and outright madam moments!
We have come away from our time in France with some amazing memories but I've also recognised the importance of respite for Karen, no matter how small. She deserves a medal to be fair.
In light of this realisation I took it upon myself to help out with bath time this week – something I'm rarely home in time to do. I mean how hard can it be? It's not like I've never bathed her before....except I hadn't done it recently and wow I was in for quite a shock!
Rosie and I trundled off upstairs to get her ready and I sensed she may need the toilet so I asked her if she needed to go, to which she replied, "Poo, yeah, poo Daddy". Ten minutes passed and nothing – I even looked away knowing she's becoming more aware and doesn't like being watched – still nothing. So I figured she just had a bit of wind and all was normal. I then undressed her and placed her in the lovely, warm, clean bathwater. She had been in the bath all of 30 seconds when she shouted out (proud as punch), "Poo Daddy". Sure enough she had...IN...THE...BATH!
Like any experienced parent I quickly disposed of the evidence without too much fuss, then as I washed her she produced another – I was now struggling...BIG TIME. I could almost hear Karen fist punch the sky in pure delight that it was on my shift!
The whole thing from there on became nothing short of total carnage. As I emptied the bath and turned on the shower to wash her down again she tried to escape, slipping in the process and bumping her head, as I grabbed her she slipped from my grasp and then managed to bump herself on the tap! All in all a complete disaster for Dad at bath time and one which again hammered home just how much Karen does juggling our three kids.
Post-bath was much more chilled and eventually Rosie dosed off in my arms – a moment I held onto for longer than I should've given how far past her bedtime it was!