“What’s a merkin?” asked Miss13, joining in a conversation I would later claim to have totally had under control.
That would, of course, be a lie. I was in way over my head.
“Come on,” I’d said to the kids earlier as I snatched the keys up off the dinning table. “We’re going for a drive.”
At this announcement, as one, the kids stampeded towards the door in almost exactly the same way a herd of buffalo don’t. No-one moved.
“Where?” demanded Miss10.
“Why?” Master12 wanted to know.
“Do I have to go with you?” asked Miss13.
The younger two didn’t even look up from their iPads.
Fact is I didn’t even have a plan beyond getting everyone into the car. I was just missing having everyone really, really close to me like on the bus.
Not that the house we’ve rented for a fortnight isn’t wonderful. It’s airy and light and roomy and even has two toilets.
But that’s sort of the problem. I kind of like having a chat and a much about while I’m walking the kids to the loos.
Eventually the kids agreed going for a drive was a much better idea than an extra session of homeschooling so we took off to the other side of Bribie Island for a gander.
And it was great. Just what I needed. Almost immediately the kids were annoying each other and demanding the water bottles they’d left behind in the kitchen.
It was just as I remembered it.
As were the streets we were exploring. One of them probably because my Grandma & Pop lived in it back in the seventies. But others reminded me of where I grew up on the Gold Coast.
“This is just like Mermaid Waters,” I said to Tracey.
“Merkin Waters?” my big eared son questioned from behind us.
“Not merkin,” laughed Tracey.
“No,” I agreed, chuckling. “Definitely not merkin.” I called over my shoulder, “I said mermaid.”
“Oh,” Master12 said, and I breathed a sigh of relief. A bit prematurely. “So what’s a merkin?”
“Good one,” Tracey half-hissed, half-giggled at me.
“Is it like a gerkin?” asked Miss10, who was sitting beside him.
“Ohh-kaay,” I said.
“It’s not,” I heard Master12 say to his sister. “You can tell from the way he said it.”
Wait a gorram moment, I thought to myself. I’m the adult here. I’m the one who’s supposed to be able to tell when someone’s lying.
At this point Miss7 asked if someone could use it in a sentence.
“Dad’s a bit of a merkin,” suggested Master12.
“In my dreams,” I muttered, then thought maybe we better put a bit of distance between this sentence and giving the definition in case anyone heard me.
Tracey seemed to have the same idea.
“Look, there’s an ambulance,” she pointed out to the kids. You never have to look too far for one on Bribie Island, we’ve noticed.
This distraction might have worked, except they had the siren blaring.
“Meeerrr-kinnnn! Meeerrr-kinnnn! Meeerrr-kinnnn!” screamed out kids merrily, imitated the ambulance as it passed while I checked to make sure all our windows were up.
“Enough!” I shouted. “Please! Or your mother will split her scar and spill her guts.”
It really looked like a thing to worry about because Tracey had her arms clamped across her stomach and was doing the new Jimmy Carr-type laugh she’s adopted to minimise belly jiggle and possible tearing.
“A merkin,” I told the kids, because nothing short of the iPads we’d left back at the house was going to see them let this drop, “is a wig for your privates.”
There was a pause as they took this in.
“Why would anyone need that?” Miss13 asked.
“I think they’re a novelty item,” I lied. “Something you give for a joke.”
Which is when we decided it was time to go home and let the kids play with their iPads. Also, I’m not to mention Mermaid Waters again until Tracey’s surgeon gives her the all clear.
Raising a family on little more than laughs
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