By Melanie Scott
This week’s missive comes to you from Prévessin-Moëns in central France. Sure, go ahead. Hate me. Yes, the wine (especially the Domaine de Montille Beaune Premier Cru, 2009) is divine, and, yes, the stinky cheese does tend to add yet another layer of fat to the midriff.
Taking a vacay like this one hasn’t always been the norm. Time was, I had a full-time job from which it was impossible to take more than a week off and two kids to get out of my hair. I signed them up (always at the last minute) for tennis camp, swimming camp, craft camp, computer camp, learn-to-build-a-house-with-gimp camp – anything to keep them busy for at least ten hours a day. They also had their fair share of babysitters. Some of these experiences went well. Some, not so much.
Such as the time I left them with a sitter who had all kinds of fun activities planned for their week together. They reported, at the end of the first day, that they’d had a blast, especially when the police were chasing them down Carling Avenue à la Indy 500. The sitter was 15. She did not have a license. She took her dad’s car and threw my twins into the back seat and went for a joy ride. She tried to outdrive the cops. She failed.
There was the time I signed them up at the YMCA. When I picked them up on day one, they reported tearfully that their counsellors, named ‘Star’ and ‘Emerald’ and ‘Pearl’, took all the salamanders the kids had collected on the beach, dropped them into Ziploc bags, and stepped on them, claiming they were teaching everyone an important life lesson. If my kids were going to learn about death, I would be the one to teach them – not some zit-faced sadists.
And then there was the sitter who appeared, for all intents and purposes, to be mature and reliable. The kids announced that they’d had so much fun they could hardly contain their joy.
“So, what did you do today?”
“We broke stuff on the road.”
“Yeah, we threw stuff on the road and waited for cars to come by and the cars would crush the stuff.”
(It turned out the ‘stuff’ was glass objects removed from the recycling bin.)
But then there was the ‘summer of D’Arcy’. D’Arcy is the daughter of a dear friend who created an imaginary world that involved going on great adventures: they wrote letters to people across the ocean and put them in bottles, which they threw into the river. D’Arcy pretended it was their birthday and brought them presents. She took them exploring in the quarry. Best of all, I was confident that I’d come home to find my twins in two pieces.
My advice to the weary parents out there who don’t have the luxury of taking several weeks off: sign up early. And while you’re at it, do a criminal check.