The Smalls slept quite well in our free camping spot near the river. I, on the other hand, was struck by insomnia and got about four hours here and there. The morning was drenched by a downpour on the caravan roof – but we are so self-contained. We have the port-a-loo, the stove, snug beds. What usually happens is that Small DB sleeps with me, and Small Z has been convinced to sleep in the other bed (made by collapsing the table).
I put them both into the main bed while I revived the table and made the porridge. Neither Small Z or I can have oats any longer – and I can’t get her to eat quinoa – so we all ate her new-normal breakfast of rice porridge mixed with quinoa flakes (flakes! an important distinction!) and amaranth with some banana through it. I don’t know how nutritious it is, but I figure the more stuff I can sneak in there, the better it must be.
I must now confess to the bribery – I was so sick of their bickering that I told them, before leaving home, that I would give them both a dollar on our return…IF THERE WAS NO FIGHTING AND NO HITTING – and for each time those things occurred, they would lose ten cents. Several times throughout our caravanning I would hear things escalate, and then Small Z (always with her eyes on the prize) would splutter, “Remember the dollar, Doonie! We’ll lose our ten cents!!!” and things would subside. Yes. I monetised my children. And my mental health is better for it.
We waved goodbye to Clay and Doreen, our camping neighbors, while we sat eating our porridge. The caravan was gently steamed from the kettle. The rain gradually abated as I washed up and the Smalls worked on their activity books. They went outside for a run. I readied the caravan for travel. The Smalls found some cicada shells on a tree, and also insisted I photograph/film a tree for identification by GAK – who is a birdwatching botanist (or is at least considered as such in our family).
After some more exploring we took a short detour through Toora – of which there is very little – and then continued on to Port Welshpool. We stopped to investigate the op-shop, which was sadly forgettable – but enabled me to have a little heart-to-heart chat with E who called me, and the Smalls played with bits and bobs. A short rampage in the playground and climbing on a Very Large Anchor and we headed toward our destination – Binginwarri.
We arrived just before midday at the house of GAK and UR – they had been invaded the previous afternoon by Sam (my cousin), Keiran (her squeeze) and their two little boys – E & A. The latter is significantly small – being only 14 weeks old – divine and snuggly. Small DB was completely enchanted by him and sneaked as many huggles as she was able. E, an almost-three-year-old, golden and tempestuous, ran about with the Smalls – inside, outsside, upside down.
Small Z was the leader of the pack – and on multiple occasions was as crazy as a coconut. It was wearing. I did try to limit my bleating at her, but found it almost impossible, even as I cringed at the constant barrage forcing its way from my mouth.
“Stop ringing the doorbell. Stop ringing THE DOORBELL. STOP RINGING THE DOORBELL OR YOU WILL LOSE TEN CENTS!” So then my financial bribery of the Smalls became public. “Can you be a bit quieter? Stop running in one door and out the other. Do you have to be so crazy? Don’t jump on people without any warning. DO NOT TAKE PILLOWS OFF BEDS IN OTHER PEOPLE’S HOUSE WITHOUT ASKING.”
Quite honestly, I was as exasperated with myself as I was with Small Z. I was constantly bleating at her. There are few more annoying things than unruly children, except unruly children in Other Peoples Houses, and particularly those houses that are do not regularly contain small children. However, constantly censorious parents (or in my case ‘parent’) are almost as bad. Small Z had lost her concept of calm, lost her concept of personal space and had basically become some kind of untrained Jack Russell puppy. It was exhausting. I did try to shut my mouth for a time and let the other adults establish the boundaries, but geeez, it was hard.
Other than that issue, our stay was lovely. I so appreciated being able to catch up with Sam – it gives me a happy feeling to be related to someone who seems to operate very similarly to myself. We had a little more time to talk than our previous catch-up. She supplied me revalatory beanie knitting information, and I probably bored her with my need for knowlege about the logistics of island life. I was given the run of the kitchen and snuggles with the babe. I caught up on historical snippets from my uncle, that I totally loved!
The woodstove kept us all toasty, we saw King Parrots and rosellas. The Smalls and E watched possums feeding on the verandah in the dark of the evening. I would have loved to stay up after dinner and drink more red wine, but Small Z could not sleep and was a bit worried by the noises that come with being alone in the caravan a bit of a distance from the house. And thus my bedtime was earlier than intended – and this was a good thing – Small DB started the next day at twenty past six.
Note: Please admire my awesome reverse parking….