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.