We were picked up in the airport by my husband’s oldest brother Mehmet in a mini-van and brought to his holiday home. The kids were delighted at the lax seatbelt laws and ran about the van alternating between screeching and whingeing for the hour and a half it took to get there. My wonderful husband had sat up front chatting with his brother and was unaware of the crisis in the back.
When we arrived, Ossie was reunited with his sister whom he hadn’t seen in 15 years and it was like a scene from Long Lost Families. His other brother Yakup and his Mam were there too, along with his sister’s two boys aged 13 and 10.
Nanny Ozdemir was thrilled to see the boys and babbled away to them while playfully slapping their bums (now I know where Ossie gets that particular trait). My boys are used to having an authoritarian granny (see Mom Corleone) but it proved helpful that this one doesn’t speak any english. The amount of times that Rian told her to fuck off was shocking but myself and Ossie just smiled indulgently as if he’d said I love you nanny. Koray was easy to bribe; I’d say go and kiss your nanny and I’ll give you money for the shop… and Conall much the same (note to self: undo the message that it’s ok to take payment in exchange for kisses).
It was difficult getting them to adapt to the shoe situation… never EVER in the house but they needed to be placed outside the door and slipped on immediately upon leaving the house.. the theory being no dirt would touch your feet and contaminate the inside floors. I was a nervous wreck shouting SHOES constantly. It didn’t help that Mehmet appeared to have OCD and was forever hosing stuff (including my manky kids) . My boys loved the freedom of no shoes and would leg it to the dusty playground across the road and appear to roll in dirt and come back to the house like they’d been up a chimney. Nanny Ozdemir was shocked at first as the other 2 boys were super-obedient and would sit quietly on their tablets, speaking only when spoken to. She soon became accustomed to the wildness of my progeny and would often burst out laughing at their shenanigans.
It was a great place for kids, a pool, a playground and fruit and veg growing all around us. Koray loved to take seeds from the Sunflowers and shell and eat them. Our outdoor eating area was shaded by meandering grape vines (ironically). The back garden yielded tomatoes, figs, peaches, apples and some that I didn’t recognise.
I once helped the mammy prepare some okra for dinner without having a clue what it was, but t’was yummy. Breakfast consisted of a buffet of tomatoes, cheese, olives, peppers, boiled eggs and bread. Rian with his egg obsession (blame Kinder) would insist on “hatching” all the eggs.
I liked all the meals, mainly vegetarian and tomato based but the men did a BBQ one night for the Irish person and even made me chips to my shame (secret delight).
I did my best to help Fatma (sister) to prepare the food as she seemed a bit of a dogsbody (when I asked Ossie to ask if she was ok legging it around after everyone she answered “but what else would I be doing?”) but she would chop like Gordon Ramsay and look sympathetically at me as I autopsied a tomato, slowly. The only downside to our week with family was that the weather was in the mid to late 30s and the sleeping arrangements weren’t ideal. I was in a room with 2 single beds pushed together with Conall and Rian… I would invariably end up sideways with the gap sawing at my spine. There was no air conditioning and I felt like there were a thousand hair dryers styling me to suffocation.
I stuck out enough among my olive skinned, black-haired in-laws but it was impossible to wear make up so I paraded my boiled-shite look as brazenly as I could. There was no question of alcohol but the boys would sneak to the beach every night for some beers so I bought cigarettes (an occasional habit, mainly with drink) and smoked in secret to hold on to a bit of boldness.
We had a few outings, one particularly disastrous one which on paper seemed fun. The local bus is a tractor pulling a cart (more tourist attraction than backwardness) and was to bring us into the town. We piled on, 5 kiddies, me, Yakup, Fatma and Mammy Ozdemir (Ossie was at the dentist…. a reoccurring theme on this holiday). My already battered spine was forced to sit on a wooden bench with Rian on my knee for 40 minutes while the sun bet the shit out of me. When we got off, it was clear to me that no one knew where we were or where to go. There was an arcade and we let the kids run amok in there. When we had to leave all kids (mine) started screaming and had to be physically removed and put back on the tractor…I think Yakup rethought fatherhood in his future that day.
I had really low expectations for a week with the in laws but it proved to be bonding, low maintainence and nutritional. Plus I always fall a little bit more in love with my husband when I see him in his natural environment and how lovely he is to his mammy (take note, my little shits).
I was ready for some air conditioning, gossip and most of all wine….Mehmet packed us up in his van of death again and off we sped weaving in and out of insane and illogical traffic, seatbeltless….. A glorious week in a fabulous hotel beckoned….surely there could be no dramas there?
To be continued…..