I felt I needed a follow up piece on “My Top 10 Things I Look Forward to on Coming Back to Ireland” from my kids point of view.
I asked my 5 and 8 year old girls what their favourite things about coming back to Ireland are.
So here we go:
They were both in agreement that their favourite thing is hanging out with their cousins.
They have 3 younger boy cousins in Dublin and my girls very much enjoy being not only the big kids but also the only girls. Much to their delight, the boys think that my girls are hilarious and the girls are more than happy to play the clown for their entertainment.
They love to put on little concerts in their Grandparent’s garden for us – belting out their favourite Taylor Swift and Imagine Dragons songs. The boys aren’t quite sure what’s going on but they’re happy to go along with it. Their Gran thought it would be a good idea to buy them a microphone. If you know my two girls, they definitely don’t need a microphone……… I’m sure their neighbours breathe a sigh of relief when we leave that the afternoon garden concerts are over for another summer.
Afternoon garden dance party
In Cork, where we stay with my Mum, my girls have a girl and boy cousin just slightly older than them. They hero worship these two cousins and love going to their house where they have a huge garden (think the size of a Hong Kong park!). They spend happy cousin days in the garden (regardless of the weather!) bouncing on the trampoline, they set up a badminton net and play tournaments and have penalty shootouts with their cousin’s football net. Last summer, one evening the adults were challenged to a penalty shoot – Granny turned out to be quite the striker leading the adults to victory, much to the kid’s disgust!
My sister sets up a tent in her garden and the 4 cousins have a camping sleepover. The most amazing hotel in the world couldn’t match the fun they get from this, it’s one of the highlights of their summer. She lives in the countryside and in the field behind her house in the summertime the farmers cut the hay and gather it into bales– the fun the kids have playing hide and seek and climbing the bales!
They also have two older boy cousins in Cork that are in their 20’s. These boys are a puzzle to them. My girls physically see them as “grown-ups” but the boys play with them like kids and “ they know about cool stuff.” One holiday, my girls taught them the names of all the My Little Ponies and on every trip since, they like to test the boys to see how many of the ponies they can correctly name. The boys started out strongly but they’ve been slipping every trip – I think they need a refresher lesson this summer. You’re on notice boys, get studying!
2. The Garden
My girls very much miss having a garden in Hong Kong, as do I. I never had green fingers and my garden would never have made it into House and Home Magazine but It was my little haven of peace and quiet.
We had a little sandbox out there for the kids, they would draw on the path with their chalk, chase bubbles and if the weather was ok they would like to eat their dinner out there sometimes. It always amazed me how they would happily (ok almost happily!) eat up their veggies outside in a “picnic dinner” rathar than the usual battleground inside at the kitchen table.
The best trick up my sleeve though for keeping the kids busy was our garden fence. Our garden was surrounded by a wooden slatted fence on three sides. On those days when the kids were wrecking my head (Irish speak for driving me crazy) I would give the girls a bucket of water and a clean paintbrush each and send them out to the garden to “paint the fence”. I swear, they loved how the wood changed colour with the water and would spend ages “painting” it. Terrible mother or Genius? You decide!
They like to “help” their Granny in Dublin sweeping up leaves in the garden and playing football with Grandad, although they do tell him that he really needs to practice more.
We don’t really bring any toys with us when we come on holidays and they are endlessly creative in the games they come up with here- they have great fun making a fort from umbrellas in the garden.
The Umbrella Fort
In Cork, along with my sister, my Mum also has a huge garden where they have picnics on her grass, feed the fish in the pond and play epic games of hide and seek. Granny also puts them to work helping her in the garden.
“Helping” Granny in the garden
The best fun they had last summer in the middle of the heatwave involved a very simple game involving Granny’s garden hose and some buckets. I’m sure you can guess the game, the rules were very simple. Sisters pitted against cousins. 4 soaked but very happy kids that afternoon.
The girls have a Gran-Gran and Grandad in Dublin who we stay with for a few weeks. Gran-Gran likes to take them for coffee (babychinos) and takes them shopping in Penneys (of course!) where they like to stock up on essentials like princess purses, princess dresses and princess hair clips (for my 5 year old) and leopard print t-shirts, leopard print notebooks and leopard print headbands (for my 8 year old) – spot the themes! As you can tell, my two girls have very different personalities. I have one daughter who wants to be a princess and live in a castle and one daughter who wants to be a Rock and Roll star and travel the world with her band. Somehow, they are the best of friends – ok, they are best friends about 80% of the time. As for the other 20% of the time, well let’s just say that they would remind you of two cats fighting over a bowl of milk.
Grandad is the go to man for taking them to the cinema. Lucky Grandad has seen all the kids summer release movies (I suspect he may have slept through a few of them!). Part of the tradition is that they just HAVE TO go to McDonalds after. Grandad also takes them to the local playground where they play some elaborate game involving Grandad being a shark and the girls having to escape from him. I tried to play the game with them one day but I was told quite firmly that I was doing it wrong, it’s clearly Grandad’s thing!
When we go to Cork we stay with Granny who helps them bake cakes, make puzzles and plays cards with them. They also love to give Granny “makeovers.” When it comes to make up, they do not believe in the “less is more” look but rather follow the “more is more” approach. After last summer, Granny cleverly put away her good make up and went and bought a bag of cheap make up for them to give their makeovers. I won’t post a picture of Granny after one of her makeovers (I want to but if I did, It may be some time before she would speak to me again!).
Of course, like all Grandparents, they enjoy spoiling their grandchildren without having to bother with that whole discipline thing. I love how the grandparents think that they are firm with the grandkids when really they are complete pushovers, incapable of saying “No” to them. You want ice-cream for breakfast? Sure! Hmmmm I remember them being much stricter on us when we were kids!
Not that they spend much time watching t.v. during our Summer trip (I swear!) , being too busy running around with their cousins. T.V. makes their list because it’s different than in Hong Kong.
We just have Netflix at home so the adverts on t.v. here are fascinating to them. They literally believe everything they hear in adverts . They want me to buy a Lottery ticket because, they excitedly tell me, we can win as the advert says “It Could be You.” They get annoyed though when we can’t forward the “boring” adverts for things they’re not interested in.
We run into some difficulties when we come back for Christmas with adverts. Their eyes nearly pop out of their heads when they see the adverts on t.v. for all the kids toys – not very helpful when the letters to the Big Man have been sent long ago……….
No words needed on this one. To my girls, holidays mean ice-cream!
Speaking of which, we’re off for ice-cream!
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