Leona O'Neill: I hope Orlando trip will keep my kids from saying 'I'm bored'

Schools are out and the long summer holidays have started. Like all kids, mine get as bored as the next, so this year we are on a mission to entertain them – with a family trip to Orlando, writes Leona O'Neill

I'm hoping my kids will have plenty to keep them entertained when we take them to Orlando
Leona O'Neill

ONE week into the summer school holidays, I hope and pray you are holding up OK.

It’s no easy task trying to keep extremely easily bored children occupied in a country that is now hotter than the surface of the Sun. I never thought I’d utter those words while referring to Ireland, but we are where we are. This time last year it had been raining for a week non-stop.

In all of these summers I have under my belt as a mother, my extensive research has discovered that rain makes children miserable and extreme heat makes children irritable. There is no winning with them – it is futile to think otherwise.

At least we have holiday planned later in the summer that we can look forward to/use as a bribe to make people behave.

We’re off to America, which is a big step for us. Previous summers were spent going mad without Wi-fi in a remote (haunted) log cabin in the Wicklow Mountains and with teenagers having the huffs because there was no McDonalds in the glorious wilds of Glendalough, or in Donegal where we have seen, at this stage, every inch, every leaf, every blade of grass, every grain of sand that the county has to offer.

My older sons told me that they would formally disown me if I planned a holiday in Ireland this year again, so in August we will head for Orlando.

I know my children and husband think that if we transport ourselves half way across the globe we won’t get on each other’s nerves in the car, or get lost and then argue about whose fault it was, or lose important stuff, or go mad without Wi-Fi. But I know different.

The only thing that will change is that it will be American folk standing in the vicinity of our car instead of Irish ones, fearful that they might be sucked into the chaotic abyss as we all argue loudly about whose fault something actually was.

I hope that there will be no arguments over how bored people are and dramatic announcements that I am never allowed to organise anything ever again more taxing than making sandwiches for excursions, and only that while supervised.

That’s why I picked Orlando. There is no way on Earth that my children will be bored there. I’ve paid vast amounts of money to ensure the word bored is not so much as mentioned for two whole weeks.

I hope my kids appreciate this holiday. Unlike my children, we spent every single summer in Ireland, in dusty B&Bs and caravans that might well have been condemned if health and safety had been invented back then. It is far from Orlando’s theme parks we were raised.

Our summer holidays always started in August, after my history teacher father had marked all his exam papers and emerged, blinking in the sunlight, from his room. I’m sure the last thing he wanted to do at that moment was to drive off into rural Ireland for a camping holiday with two surly teenagers, two youngsters who asked every two minutes how many more miles it was until we got there, and a wife whose map-reading capabilities matched those of the dog – who was also crammed into the back seat between complaining children.

And we’d sit at the border checkpoint for an hour in sweltering heat, melting into the back seats as the army searched cars. My poor father would have to take all the cases and bikes and soggy sandwich bags and buckets and spades out of the boot for the soldiers as the teenagers argued in the back seat about not wanting to go on stupid holiday in the first place.

When we’d arrive at the camp site he’d be the man out in torrential rain, setting up our canvas abode, or trying to work out how to switch the electricity on in a holiday home so my mother could have a cup of tea, or inspecting bedrooms for spiders so his youngest would sleep easy there.

I don’t really remember all the good stuff we did on holiday. I remember hurting my ankle in Galway and my dad spending six hours in casualty with me. I remember his old Cortina breaking down up a mountain in the middle of nowhere and us all out pushing it to a hill start. I remember being on a choppy ferry crossing and a man puked over the side and the wind caught it and blew it into my father’s face.

Those are probably not the memories my parents were going for, but they are memories nonetheless and they make me laugh, even after all these years.

I’m hoping Orlando can make equally fun memories for our kids.

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