x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

A partial family vacation

Making plans for a relative's visit proves futile.

For the second summer in a row, my 16-year-old brother managed to wangle a plane ticket out of my parents in order to spend 10 days with Mr T and me. High temperatures and stifling humidity levels do not deter him. He seems ready to put up with anything just to get a spot on our couch.

We were excited to see him come, eager to adapt to the role of host and hostess. We prepared ahead of time by researching every indoor activity possible. We had learnt our lesson from last year: plan as many activities in the safe haven of a strong air-conditioning system and do sufficient research ahead of time. That way, we would not end up sweating buckets at Al Ain's Wildlife Park or struggling to breathe in the moisture-heavy air at the Aquaventure waterpark.

Indoor skydiving and indoor ice-skating were high on the agenda. And, we've discovered, large aquariums have been located inside malls for a reason.

However, soon after my brother arrived it became apparent I need not have bothered.

The first day I came home from work to find Mr T and my brother glued to the television, riveted by the latest episode in the anime series that the two follow so diligently. By the episode's end, I was dressed and ready to go out for dinner. They, however, started perusing the takeout menus and selecting an action film to watch.

The next day was no different. Whether discussing what toppings to prepare for the hamburgers they were grilling, or huddled over a serious game of Monopoly (wouldn't the game have been better with three players?), the two were attached at the hip. If Mr T suggested a particular movie, my brother assured us that the chosen movie was his all-time favourite.

If Mr T was sent off to the shop downstairs to get me some batteries, my brother tripped over his own feet to join him.

And there I was, deflated. He hadn't begged and pleaded to be allowed to visit us because he was missing his big sister so much. It was his adoration of Mr T that had him forgoing all other trips for an Abu Dhabi vacation.

As for my seemingly innocent husband, he is absolutely basking in the attention. He has regressed to being a teenager and seems to have an endless supply of jokes to entertain my brother with - most of which revolve around unmentionable bodily functions. Between them, the two have consumed enough bags of chips, bowls of dip and ginger ale to sink a small boat. And those plans of fun activities I had come up with? Long forgotten.

I cannot seem to get the two off the couch, or into shirts. They lounge around in their shorts all day and discuss martial arts. I am outnumbered in my own home.