We really should invite Shosho on holiday this time,” Mum states over the dinner table, spooning food into baby Rosie’s mouth, avoiding eye contact with the rest of the family. It’s not a question.
“Ngai!” exclaims 10-year- old Timmy with a shake of his head, before receiving a parental scolding. “But Mama, she’s so slow and she always complains,” he wails.
“Enough,” Mum says with authority. “She’s coming and that’s final.”
Dad’s jaw stiffens as he stares into his soup. “And Baba Mike will come too,” Mum adds, for good measure.
Tim throws his hands into the air while Dad’s chair scrapes back loudly as he moves to clear the plates.
“It will be nice to have them with us. And they can help with little Rosie here,” Mum adds.
“Yes, Mike and Shosho’s advice on how best to raise our kids is always welcome,” mutters Dad in the kitchen, safely out of earshot.
Now on holiday, Dad and Timmy are heading back from playing mini golf when they pass Granny pushing baby Rosie around in her pram.
“I won, I won!” Timmy exclaims. “Shush,” says Shosho, “I’ve just got Rosie off to sleep.”
“Where’s Mum?” Dad asks.
“She’s resting. Please don’t disturb her. She’s in the room. She deserves some peace,” Granny says.
Dad, who was hoping for a rest himself, does a reluctant about turn at the bedroom door. “Come on then Tim, let’s head down to the pool.”
Once there, they find Baba Mike has made himself comfortable on a sunbed and is sipping away at his fourth cocktail. Timmy dips his toe in the water.
“I don’t advise that you swim,” says Mike, shaking a finger. “You’ll get sick. It’s too cold. Even Shadrack over there agrees with me.” A man with a long-handled brush nods from across the pool.
“I think I’m going to go for a run,” Dad says. “You don’t mind watching young Timmy do you, Mike?”
“Of course not,” says Mike, tapping the edge of his sunbed. “I’ve got some great stories to tell Timmy … about when I was a boy.”
“But Daaad,” squeals Tim.
“Sorry, son,” says Dad with genuine regret but also mindful of his own sanity.
A little later, Dad returns to the pool area having sweated away some frustration. He’s concerned to see Timmy in the water while Baba Mike snoozes. Fortunately Shadrack, the pool attendant, still has half an eye on the boy. Dad just puts his feet up when he notices Granny hove into view with Rosie over her shoulder.
“I’ve woken her up as it’s time for her milk.” Rosie’s furious screaming causes fellow hotel residents to look over with concern. “You’ll need to run up to the room to get her bottle.”
“But if she was sleeping?” Dad’s question trails off when he realises that there’s no point in arguing.
“Take Rosie with you, I’m exhausted with all of this babysitting,” says Gran, passing over the baby. She smoothes down her cardigan, takes Dad’s place on the sunbed then throws a disapproving look in Mike’s direction.
“Now Timmy. Show me your best swimming,” she says. Tim disappears under the water, pretending not to hear.
It’s dinner time. Granny piles extra chips onto Tim’s plate from the buffet. Mike has ordered a second bottle of wine and they haven’t even started on the main course. Mum looks well rested (when did she manage to get to the salon and is that a new outfit?) but the rest of the family is frazzled.
“Here’s to a great holiday!” exclaims Mike, glass of red wine in hand. Mum flinches to ensure no stray drop lands on her white dress.
“Good boy, that’s right, eat up,” says Granny. Timmy and his Dad exchange a glance as Tim wades into the pile of food on his plate.
“Cheers!” says Mum. “What a lovely rest it’s been.”
Rosie starts wailing. The family looks at one another.
“Whose turn is it?” asks Mum.
Frances Woodhams is author of the blog: www.africaexpatwivesclub.com