Family bondage time

It has taken me twenty one years to arrive at the realisation that what is often meant as family bonding time can end up being family bondage time. The observation I happened in a flash, within minutes of arriving at a youth camp where my wife had volunteered to work as camp nurse. Upon arriving and surveying at the sprawling camp site, I was immediately struck by the sheer joyfulness of the campers. Their happiness was in direct inverse proportion to the standard of their living conditions. I kept this perception in the background of my consciousness as the rest of our holiday unfolded. I thought back to the parents on the plane, tormented trying to keep their babies and toddlers quiet. They were far more up-tight than the generally jovial and sympathetic passengers who were no doubt secretly celebrating being past that stage of life.

Driving through the Outeniqua, and noticing the children in the back seat playing on cell phones and ignoring the scenery. After three hours journey to Addo Elephant Park, witnessing a group of about forty elephant, being awed and inspired until a chorus of “when are we getting something to drink” started from the back seat breaking the moment within a few seconds of it beginning. I looked around at other parents, shouting, smacking and trying to manage screaming, irritable, disorientated, out of sorts, frustrated and nagging children. First prize for suckers of the year went to the German couple in Tzitzikama carrying their screaming toddler and an infant in back-packs. They had travelled across the world to be Sherpa’s, trekking up a mountain with customers who would rather be in their cots at home having warm milk and cookies. May I humbly suggest that families use the whole year as bonding time, and like those who send their children to camp, the holidays as respite time.

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