“Mummy, I’m a bomb!”
So chirped my bouncing 4 year old son as we checked in at the airport, right next to the “We take airline safety very seriously! Don’t even joke about it!” sign.
I instantly knew he was referring to the iPad app “Fruit Ninja” to which he’s become addicted, an innocuous game requiring players to slice up fruit while avoiding ACME-esque bombs. But no one else knew that. And there we were, me in my headscarf, my husband clearly Muslim and 3 of the 4 of us with identifiably Muslim names.
“Mummy, I’m a bomb!” he repeated insistently, jumping like the Fruit Ninja graphic.
Oh dear Lord, we are going to be taken to Guantanamo Bay before we even left Victoria.
“Yes darling!” I said, very loudly. “You like the Fruit Ninja game, don’t you? That’s what you mean, isn’t it?”
“Mummy, I said – “
“COME ON EVERYONE, THIS WAY!” I was now practically shouting to drown him out, and yanked my son’s arm before he could say anything else incriminating. The check-in woman considered us thoughtfully, but before she could say anything, we’d gone.
I was convinced anew that holidays with children are a terrible idea. Helli-days, really.
Tourism Queensland disagreed however, and was sending me, my husband and our two kids (aged 4 and 8) to the Gold Coast to prove me wrong. The promise of sun beckoned me, the theme parks beckoned the kids, and fear of my wrath beckoned my husband. So we went.
Arriving at our resort was the first sign of feasibility. Our room gave kids their own themed bunk beds, TV and playstation. It boasts a massive aqua park with water slides, fountains, a swimming pool and spa. The resort also offers Z4K, where parents drop off their children with the friendly staff, giving kids a place to make friends and do cool activities while giving parents a few hours to go out, have a coffee, or book themselves in for a massage. Or remember what uninterrupted conversation is like.
Attacking the theme parks was my next lesson in Being Wrong About Family Holidays. At the fantastic Dreamworld I was pleasantly surprised to find quite a few rides we could go on together. I took my daughter on her first rollercoaster and was forever immortalised as a wuss by the automatic photo snapped at a scary point in the ride – my eyes firmly clamped shut in terror. Dreamworld also offers an automated queuing service called “Q4U” that allows electronic queuing to prevent wasting all your time standing in lines. We stuffed ourselves with lunch at the Billabong restaurant, and again I noticed the way kids and adults were accommodated; nuggets and chips for the kids, with more grown-up offerings for us. I had seconds. Okay, fourths.