Eternal quest for holiday harmony
I WAS watching an old DVD the other day. A favourite. National Lampoon's Holiday Vacation. It inspired me to write this week's column about my eternal quest, same as the man on his way to Wally World, for the perfect family holiday.
One that I have often dreamt of, been close to but can no longer quite grasp. To replicate that perfect holiday when I was eight years old and we went to the beach, fished, swam and played the week or so away.
I know lots of fathers like me have the same desire and that same indefatigable spirit of Clark W Griswold in you. I'm not talking about the one that desires the hot blonde in the Ferrari, (come on lads, let's be realistic). Besides, I've already got the perfect girl!!
I mean the all-caring, daggy dad who wants to create the same mystical memories that we have of our dad, and our childhood holidays.
Just like me, this means many of you will join the great holiday exodus to the camping, caravanning or boating hotspots about the place.
Doesn't matter if it's Yamba, Rainbow Beach or Coolmunda Dam. We will pack the family into the car, hook something up to the tow-bar, and settle in for a few hours of holiday traffic, "Are we there yet?" calls from the back seat, suspect smells and then probably a bit more traffic.
So, there we are, in the family truckster wagon. Complete with overloaded boat/van/camper on the back swaying away. The family-friendly SUV now so full of family members it has no room for clothes, food and kitchen sinks.
Now a mechanical failure will wreck a road-trip family holiday faster than a stiff breeze will ruin Donald Trump's comb-over. So be prepared. Minimise the chance of a failure through vehicle maintenance.
Carry a decent spare tyre. One that at least holds air, including one for the trailer and bearings and all the stuff to change them with. Service the car. Get those brakes fixed, change that battery, do what it takes.
Trust the mechanic - he's seen pain many times before in people just like us. If he says it's stuffed, it most likely is. Do you think he likes getting dirty working on cars? Mechanics hate fixing things? Look at their own cars. If they say you need it - you do.
I thought I saw a lot of suffering as a copper but my mate Dave's stories of "holiday refugees" spending two weeks parked behind the dumpster at his shop because their Range Rover gearbox died on the way to the coast will wring the tears out of even the hardest brute. Yes, the smack in the wallet can hurt, but remember, it's for the kid's.
For a while there with my quest, it seemed the harder I tried, the more I would fail.
After a few hundred attempts at perfection, I came to realise that kids have very little to compare this or that holiday with.
If they are loved and secure, in their innocence they look at life every day as a grand adventure - through rose coloured glasses.
Happy to just be there and be happy with your presence and attention. Cherish them and they will have the same experiences in life you hopefully had.
Now teenagers - that's another story. My advice is just take a leaf from their book and "Whatever!!!"
We were going somewhere last year and we came across a one-wheeled camper trailer parked on the side of the road - empty axle on one side propped up on a rock, dad and the car long gone in search of a spare tyre. One very unhappy looking wife and a kid sitting on the drawbar, in the hot sun. Sweating and burning, losing joy by the second. Happy to sip our cold water.
Dad never did teach me the secret of the perfect holiday. But he did stress one thing - many times: Happy wife, happy life.