On our last family vacation, a ‘wonderful’ holiday in France turned into a ‘full-of-wonder’ holiday; as in ‘I wonder how I could have possibly done this without my husband?’.
It all began when we decided to take Ms 1, 2 and 3 skiing in France during their term break, instead of flying them back from England to Singapore. I remarked how lovely it would be if Ms 4 and 5 were to join us. My husband politely suggested that at age three and five, they were too young to remember much and perhaps the journey might be too difficult for them. I don’t know why but I perceived this as insulting to their mental and physical capabilities, and would not relent until he agreed to take them along. As I was still breastfeeding at that time, there was also the matter of bringing M6’s milk back in cold chain, which I adroitly tasked my beleaguered husband to manage.
From the moment we left the house for the red-eye flight (planned so the tots would be so exhausted they would sleep through), I discovered that my husband was right. First of all, they fell asleep the moment we arrived at the airport, which meant we had to carry them, as well as our luggage. Of course, they were wide-awake when we settled into our plane seats because, you know, that’s the magic of irony.
The teenagers met us in Paris and we spent a few nights in Le Marais, a charming district that we all enjoyed. We took the train to Annecy and drove to La Clusaz, a picturesque ski resort in the Alps. When we arrived at our chalet, which was surrounded by thick snow, several things happened at the same time: M4 leapt out yelling in excitement and immediately began making a snowman; the husband made a beeline for the kitchen, clanging pots and pans around in preparation for dinner; Ms 1,2 and 3 raucously organised our rooms and sorted our gear; and I discovered M5’s ability to sleep through everything.
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We settled quickly into our ski habits: M1 was up early on a daily basis in order to maximise his black-slope experience; M2 went a little later after she finished her homework as she was mugging for her GCSEs; and M3 emerged only during optimal conditions when there was sun and snow. Ms 4 and 5 built snowmen in the yard before their lessons in the morning, and I retrieved lost gloves, hats and paraphernalia from said yard before my lessons in the afternoon. Our disparate schedules compelled the husband to drive back and forth multiple times, particularly as I insisted on preparing the baby’s milk every four hours in the comfort of the chalet with boiling water to sterilise my equipment.
Some days, just to give my husband a little more work to do, I would insist that we all drive to town to pick the older Ms up from the other side if they chose to ski across Manigod. The tots enjoyed the stroll and chocolate crêpes while waiting to cheer their siblings whooshing down the magnificent mountain.
On our last evening, the dry ice we had ordered to keep M6’s milk cold failed to arrive so the husband had to speed to the Swiss border to acquire this. Despite this and other assorted dramas, every night he would plan and execute a menu for the next day that would allow us to enjoy the same high standards of daily living we were used to at home. This meant shopping at the market for indulgent fry-ups for breakfast; gourmet sandwiches for lunch and hot dinners such as chicken rice, hearty curry and large steaks. I’m not sure my dear husband had much of a holiday. But, for the rest of us, this family holiday in an Alpine wonderland was truly wonderful.
This story is a part of a series of columns by Dr Jade Kua (left), documenting her life with her legendary six Ms. The paediatric emergency specialist is also the programme director of DARE which stands for Dispatcher Assisted first REsponder. It is a community project that aims to educate the general public on how to save the lives of cardiac arrest victims by teaching them basic resuscitation. Follow her on Instagram @drjadekua.
To read her previous column, Jade + 6: Cracking The Code of Confinement Cuisine, click here.