My Bus Rules

Not having done much camping, and certainly no motorhoming, we’re basically making up rules as we go.

Things like no food or shoes up the bed end of the bus, and no leftovers in the sink, and no taking books into the toilet block when the temperature reaches single digits and your father is waiting outside to walk you back. Common sense stuff borne out of necessity and a desire to not end up hating my kids by the end of our lap.

Which is why I’m really glad I was half listening to this entire conversation this morning, because otherwise the source of the crying and anguish and bus-phobia probably would have escaped me – correction: definitely would have escaped me – and I wouldn’t have known how to fix it.

“Oh, no,” Miss5 exclaimed to Miss7 in the bus kitchen. “You dropped the teabag.”

‘Exclaimed’ isn’t quite the right mental image. It was a joyful exclamation. Sort of in an ‘oh good, you dropped a teabag’ sense, if you know what I mean. And people with five year olds will.

I should also probably point out at this juncture, this post isn’t about the third degree burns my youngest kids ended up with because they decided to make themselves a cup of tea. I was, in fact, supervising the whole enterprise. By which I mean I put the hot water into the cup and they did the rest while I enjoyed my first coffee of the day.

“It’s okay,” Miss7 said, almost shifting her eyes to the splatter zone on the floor, but more accurately continuing to watch herself stir in sugar. “I can clean it up.”

“But what if you don’t?” asked Miss5, because clearly she understood the chances of that happening as well. “Then what would we do?”

Run from Dad? Hide from Mum? Put yourself up for adoption? There were a number of ways I figured it could go, none of which, it turned out, entered Miss7’s mind. Instead, she followed common sense through to the only logical conclusion.

“Then,” she said, “we’d have to get another bus.”

“Yeah,” agreed Miss5, nodding, “because this one would be ruined.”

“Or,” Miss7 continued, “we’d need to go around Australia in a car.”

The word ‘car’ was spat out, like a gritty booger.

“No!” squawked Miss5. By the time she finished the next two sentences there were tears. “Not a car. We’d have to buy a bus.”

Which was the point at which the conversation turned to face me.

“Don’t buy a car!” screamed Miss7.

“We need to buy a bus, Daddy!” bawled Miss5, stepping squelchily on the tea bag as she came at me at full volume, presumably to better destroy the part of my eardrums she’d missed as a baby.

“Not just any bus,” bellowed Miss7, “but this bus. This bus. We need to buy this bus again.”

“Why would I need to buy it again?” I asked. This had all happened so quickly and so not-finished-my-first-coffee, even though I’d heard the whole thing I was having trouble keeping up. “We’ve already paid for it.”

“Because she ruined it,” yelled Miss5, pointing an accessory finger at her sister.

“Me?” Miss7 was clearly taken aback by the suggestion. “You’re the one who stood on the teabag.”

As you can see, if I hadn’t been listening to the whole thing I’d have had a university student’s chance in a federal budget of understanding what had gone wrong and how to permanently fix it.

I pulled them apart at this point – it was that or throw jelly on them – and almost immediately realised the only way to make this scenario better was to put in place a new bus rule. My first thought was to bring into being a law about no one being allowed to so much as look at me until I’m well into my second coffee, but I realised this wouldn’t solve the whole issue of the screaming at each other.

“Listen up,” I called out to everyone on this bus while I opened the bin with my foot for it to accept the teabag roadkill Miss7 was holding out from her like a dead mouse. I’d explained to my youngest lumps of anxiety we’d be able to keep the bus if they just picked up the teabag and mopped up the mess on the floor with one of their mother’s socks – and they had, thankfully, accepted the wisdom of that. Several heads popped out from behind their bunk curtains and I soon had all five sets of eyes on me. “New bus rule. From now on, no one – I repeat, no one – is allowed to make a cup of tea until your mother is back from the toilet block. Got it?”

They assured me they had.

Meaning I’m pretty sure I’ve nipped this sort of stupid o’clock nonsense in the bud and we shouldn’t have a similar problem again any time soon.

Well, I shouldn’t.

Before we left Sydney we managed to squeeze in one last ‘had to do’ – Free Comic Book Day at Kings Comics.
See those chocolate covered ice creams? Free. Kings Comics knows how to host a party.
At two free comics per person, a family of seven can really clean up.
They even had real, genuine comic book people there. This is a blurry photo of Nicola Scott, who penned Secret Six and Birds of Prey and currently pens Wonder Woman. I mean, OMG, WOW and GEEWILLIKERS. Got a signed copy for me and Master25.
Everyone who’s anyone was there.
These guys know how to put on a do. Even free faceprinting and activities for the kids, as you can see from Miss10’s Minecraft cammo.
Then we headed off to our nation’s capitol. Canberra weather’s not so bad if you dress appropriately.
We’ve been told in Canberra if you can see your destination you’re on the wrong road. So true.
It occurred to me, as we drove past, I have no idea what the purpose of that thing on top of Parliament House is. Telstra tower?
Discovering the sights of Canberra with the kids. Here’s the Parliament House subterranean car park. Thanks, Siri. Well planned city, my ass.
Took the kids to the National Library and almost immediately had to leave because Miss7 happened to ask one of the staff where the chapter books are. “There are no chapter books here,” was entirely the wrong answer, so until we could wrestle her out the door the whole complex got to enjoy her whale song impersonation.

Some lovely sculptures around. Including this one we’ve dubbed ‘dag in a hairy hole’. My apologies to the artist…but come on, you knew what you were doing.
This place is awesome. Firstly, it was right where Siri said it’d be. We’ve been back twice already. I suspect another couple of visits are on the cards.
The space exhibit is my fav. Whole thing is interactive and interesting.

Flight simulator gives me confidence we are making the right decision in keeping the drone controller out of our kids’ hands.

Afternoon tea in the National Arboretum centre. Lovely building, great coffee, horrible name.
The view. Lovely, but will be even better when the trees get a few years under their branches. This whole area was decimated by the 2001 & 2003 bushfires and has subsequently been given a new hopeful future. 
Kids were very impressed by the play area. “Check out dem nuts!” grinned Master12

This was huge. If you’ve missed this you’ve not been watching or reading news the last week. Gold Logie winner Sam Johnson and his sister Connie and their Love Your Sister’s Big Heart Project. So pleased we had the opportunity to go along to this. I’m just going to throw a heap of photos from the day up. 

Tracey caught Miss5 stashing coins into her pockets. Apparently she didn’t want to give it all away.

After adding our contribution to the big heart we walked around the circumference of the massive thing and out into the event itself. What I didn’t realise was I had a tail.
Until this point.
It was this fella. Campbell – the little legend who makes bears for sick people to cheer them up. He made us one when Tracey was in hospital and Winner Devereaux is now our bus mascot. Follow Campbell on his Project 365 by Campbell Facebook page. You’ll be glad you did.

Connie. She spent much of the day resting between brief appearances where she shone. What a woman. Makes you wonder what you’d do in her shoes and knowing you’d come up short in comparison.
With brother, and secret crush of women all over Australia, Sam. He didn’t stop all day. Didn’t seem to get tired of the demands people made on him. Didn’t see him being anything but friendly and open and inviting to all the people, like us, who wanted a part of him. Immediately after chatting to him we went and bought his and Connie’s book and some merchandise. Anything to help. If you can help them to raise money to kick cancer in the facehole, please do. 
See! He didn’t stop. Love this photo. Even better because I know Campbell took it 😀

Mel Yeates, who has written a song for Bumble. She’s lovely too! Lots of good people doing good things.

There was a constant stream of interviews and photo ops for this pair.

Lots of activities for the kids at Big Heart Project. Was so much fun, and the company was so good, we stayed hours longer than we thought we would.

Even met up with my cousin, Jenny.

Miss5 on a mini-bike was perhaps the funniest thing all day. She thought so too. She was desperate to keep it.

Lots of BFli readers there, of course, because this tribe is all manner of awesomesauce. Annabelle has a book release Smiths Alternative 4pm Sat 13th May. There’s a plug for you Annabelle 😀 And of course, we’ll be there.
Kept meeting our tribe.
By the time we left it was really starting to look silver. By the time they finished the day it was dazzling.

Kids with Jenny and Jurek.
Kids finally settled down enough for Tracey to take a photo of them. This was what she asked of them for Mothers Day.
Hannah, from ABC Canberra, who drove out to Bungendore Showgrounds to interview us. She’s lovely and made the whole experience a lot of fun.

Raising a family on little more than laughs

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