There’s a Hole In The…What Now?

Saturday afternoon I was attempting something that is highly unusual for me. Making a cake.
I rarely make cakes these days. My sister makes all the kids birthday cakes, I never even have to think about it. She just shows up to each party with a fabulous cake. But since it’s her birthday, I can’t have her making her own cake now can I.
Can I?

No I can’t. Despite the fact that we all know my kitchen escapades are highly unreliable, I decide that I cannot allow her to make her own birthday cake.

So, I’m in the kitchen attempting this delicious creation.


Click the image to see the recipe at

It’s a healthy not-really-cake cake, and since we’re all on diets we decide that this cake is perfect.
Fresh, light, low fat, delicious.

I’m trying to whip the coconut cream; it’s not going so well and I’m deliberating with my mother and sister on the ideal temperature conditions and other possible variables for whipping coconut cream.

Suddenly we hear a rather loud crash.

Now let me preface this by saying that there’s always a loud crash of some sort happening in my house. Crashes, commotions, crises, catastrophes and calamities are common. More than common, they’re expected.

So I do what I always do. I stop for a beat…listen for crying, groaning or worse – dead silence and when nothing seems amiss, I carry on. Continue chatting, whipping, chopping, agonising because the coconut cream won’t do as it’s told.

You have to understand, if I stopped for every little thing…

So, attention back to the second batch of non-compliant coconut cream, and it’s looking nothing like it’s supposed to.
I’m busy Google-ing ‘how to whip coconut cream’ when Actor walks past the kitchen; iPad in one hand, telephone in the other, en route to the rumpus room he looks back over his shoulder and ever so calmly declares “oh I just fell from the roof” and he keeps walking.

“That’s nice dear” I say. Or something to that affect. There is nothing unusual about Actor stringing a combination of alarming words together, just for effect. He does that, call it a quirk. Combined with his incredibly nonchalant demeanour I assume this is one of those times.

When Princess appears a few minutes later screeching “Did you have to do it in my room?!” I am totally pre-occupied with the defiant coconut cream to really realise that these events are all somehow linked together.

My mother and sister are not so oblivious. Off they go to investigate. I start the third batch of coconut cream. Perhaps I left too much coconut water in the cream……

“Umm Rach…..have you seen this?”

“Yes Ma I know….the roof is leaking a little, Owen is up there fixing it now.”

‘Umm, No. You might want to take a look at this”

This not-really-cake cake has to be good. It has to be perfect. My sis does an amazing job of everything she does for me; I have to get it right. Damn coconut cream! Why won’t you whip!? I’m talking to myself as I wander up the hall to see what my mother is having a conniption about. Probably over reacting, I tell myself, I bet it’s nothing at all.

At Princess’ room I stop, look up.



Call me stupid but my brain does not yet compute.

And then a rush of images and realisation hit me all at once.
Actor – “…fell from the roof”
Princess – “Did you have to do it in my room!”
Hole. In. The. Ceiling.

“ACTOR, Get in here!”

“Yes Mum?” He saunters in, barely lifting his eyes from his iPad.

There are no words. I cannot speak. I point to the gaping hole in my roof.

“I already told you.” He says “I fell from the roof”

“You mean, you fell through the roof? Through? The? Roof?


“What exactly where you doing IN the roof?”

He shrugs. “Looking for Dad.” He says that as though it’s totally normal for children to go looking for their father in the roof cavity. As though it happens every day. He’s looking at me like he’s not sure what part I’m having trouble comprehending.

Incredulous is not a big enough word. I am dumbfounded. “In the roof? You were looking for Dad in the roof?!” Have I just landed in the twilight zone?

My mother told me later that Actor said to her ‘Mum is gonna go spaz when you guys go home’
But I didn’t. Once I got over the shock of the ridiculousness of the situation, I checked him to make sure he hadn’t hurt himself. I told him that I wasn’t angry, just scared because he could have really caused himself a serious injury. Cuddled him while he cried with a mixture of shock and relief, and then commissioned my sister to call a friend who is a plasterer.

Then I shit canned the coconut cream, went to the milk bar and bought two tubs of extra fat double thick dairy cream and two six packs of bourbon.
I made this.

5945_10151643835008105_1813963962_n  1235151_10151643834963105_1329899993_n

I ate steak and potatoes and drank bourbon with real coke. I sang happy birthday to my sister not caring about the fact that the healthy cake was not perfect, nor totally healthy. Not caring that my temporary diet hiatus would set me back at least a week, and surprisingly unconcerned about the gaping hole in my roof.

It’s all fixable.

Posted in Kid Wrangling, Life and Other Mysteries | 2 Comments

I am Zen. Almost.

It’s been a while. Despite the fact that I made the promise to myself to write each week, it’s been many weeks. Well, no excuses. I’ll just get on with it shall I? What is that has given me incentive to write? Why that would be my delightful children. The loves of my life, my reason to live, my sun, stars and moon. They are the very centre of my world. They happen to be as annoying, wearisome and exasperating as they are hilarious, adorable and fulfilling. 

Let’s sit with that for a minute… the annoying, wearisome and exasperating…because it’s my blog, and I can.

I always start the day with the best of intentions. I wake up and think “Today is a good day”. I have my morning coffee and observe the scene before me. Actor is already ready for school, every morning he is ready before I even open my eyes. Organised.
Deflector is dressed and is in the kitchen making his lunch. Captain Clumsy is naked and walking around in circles. Princess is a reflection of me. Hair sticking up, rubbing her eyes, dazed and confused. She looks like she doesn’t know where she is or why she’s here. She looks like she could use another 2 hours sleep.

As my senses start to awaken I take a deep breath and decide that today I will be the very definition of calm control. I smile at CC and remind him that he is looking for his uniform. I hug my little Princess and tell her she needs to get dressed.
I put my arm around Deflector and ask him to perhaps lower his voice a little.
It doesn’t take long before my calm is tested.
Deflector is complaining about how ‘lame’ his lunch is. How it’s ‘totally embarrassing’. I’m not sure why it’s lame, a sandwich is a sandwich right? How can lunch be embarrassing? He goes on to whine about how ‘all the other kids’ take Doritos and Coke and blue frosted cupcakes. He continues with ‘Well I guess i’ll just starve then’ I feel my blood pressure rise a little and think about putting him on the next flight to Ethiopia or Cambodia. Perhaps he will rethink his position on lame sandwiches there. I take a deep breath and calmly explain why his lunch is not lame, why I insist he eat healthy 98% of the time, and why he can choose to not take lunch if he doesn’t like what I have to offer.
Calm control. That’s me.

Suddenly I am ripped from my gentle caffeine induced awakening with what sounds like the caterwauling of an injured feline, which I quickly realise is actually my daughter. Folks, if you only have sons, I have to tell you that the shrill shriek of a little girl cannot be compared to anything else in existence. I likened it to a screaming injured cat only because there are no adjectives for this phenomena. There simply is no way to accurately describe the ear-splitting torture that is a little girl squeal. So, I peel myself from the ceiling and decide that because I am so calm and in control I can let it float on by. No need to get involved. Princess and whoever her tormentor is can sort it out themselves.
Look at me; Cool as a Cucumber.

I give my children time calls. This way it’s not a surprise to them when we are leaving NOW.
“20 minutes guys. CC where are your pants? Princess, brush your hair.”

CC appears to be wandering aimlessly with no pants on. He has had an altercation with Deflector, I realise, because he is not wandering aimlessly at all, rather he is shadowing his brother, taunting him with “brk brk brk chicken. Brk brk brk” I gently take him by the shoulders and redirect him to his awaiting pants.

“15 minutes kids. Princess where is your hairbrush?”
Princess is sitting on the floor in the kitchen putting her socks on. The Actor steps backwards and promptly loses a bowl of cereal all over her clean dress. She, of course, starts shrieking, He, bless his sweet little heart, tries to mop up the rice bubbles with a very wet chux.
I bite my lip. No use crying over spilt milk. I lovingly tell Princess that sitting in the middle of the kitchen floor is not a good idea. I tell Actor that an already wet chux is obviously useless. I might swear under my breath.
It’s ok, I Am Zen.

“10 minutes. CC where are your shoes? Princess, brush your hair while I iron your clean dress.”
Deflector has disappeared. I don’t have time to find him and I’m not going to shout. Calm controlled mothers do not shout. I hear the muffled sounds of Sponge Bobs theme song drifting from under the closed doors of the rumpus room.

Surely not.

They wouldn’t dare… would they?

CC, still pantless, lounges on the couch watching Sponge Bob. Princess is dressing the cat. Deflector is perched on the ottoman crushing candies on my iPad. 

Apparently they would.

My voice might be a little….raised when I tell CC that I will not hesitate to take him to school naked. I might have been a little…stern as I tell Princess to dress herself rather than the cat. I was possibly a little …gruff when I snatch my iPad from my eldest who should know better and how the hell does he crack my pass code anyway!?
No really, I’m still calm…just a little…exasperated.

“5 minutes kids! CC! Your Shoes! Princess, your dress!”
Deflector is sitting on the floor at the door. Apparently ready to go, at least he’s out of my way.
Actor and CC are squabbling over shorts.
“They’re mine”
“No they’re not, they’re mine!”
“What size are they then? Show me!”

Argh. Give me strength. “I don’t care who the shorts belong to, CC just PUT THEM ON. Everyone else, in the car now!”

Deflector decides that now is a good time to mention he hasn’t eaten breakfast, despite the fact that he has spent the last 10 minutes sitting on the floor, and who knows how long before that playing on my iPad.
I toss him a packet of ‘Breakfast biscuits’ and we’re out the door.
Princess hasn’t brushed her hair, I can see a few rice bubbles stuck in it. Deflector complains again about the lack of junk food in his lunch box. I take a deep breath. Two more minutes, I can manage two more minutes.
I kiss them goodbye, say I Love You and wave to the other Mums. Look at me. I am in control; I even managed to get some make-up on today.
Yay me.

I get home and notice the chaos that I’m trying my best to ignore. The iron is still on, beeping. The cat is sitting in the milky/watery ricebubbles swirls on the kitchen floor. There is Vegemite smeared all over the bench, and next to it sits CC’s lunch box.
I spend the day cleaning, cooking, grocery shopping. When I find banana skins under the couch I am glad the kids are at school. They shouldn’t hear the words I use until they are at least 18.
The washing I gave CC to put away yesterday is in the machine again. Apparently it’s easier to put your clean red shirts in the machine with Mums whites than it is to put them away. I send my husband a text.
“I might just kill him, I’m not even joking”
“LOL” he says

LOL Indeed.

By the time I pick them up from school I feel like their personal assistant.  I have just spent the whole day cleaning their mess, re washing their clothes, killing the ants that are contentedly munching on the contraband substances that have been hidden in sock drawers, and making raspberry muffins for afternoon tea.
Before we even leave the school gates a squabble erupts over who is going to tell me about their day first.
“I was talking first”
“No I WAS!”

We get to the car and Actor and CC decide they have to fight over who is getting in the car first. There is a stand-off. No one wants to sit in the middle seat, so no one is going to get in first.
Because I am so calm and controlled I close the car door and drive off leaving them standing in the parking lot.
I drive around the block, telling myself that I will not shout. I am calm, I am Zen.
When I get back to the school they are looking adequately subdued. I pull up and they wordlessly get into the car. Smart move boys, Mum is holding on by a thread.

We go home and I do the usual run down. “Kids put your bags away, do your chores and put your washing out. Then, and only then, you can have a snack. And DON’T make a mess in my clean kitchen.”
I disappear for 10 minutes to hang out my now pink whites.

I come back inside to find the kitchen a disaster zone. Squashed muffin on the kitchen floor, a trail of crumbs leads to the rumpus room. They don’t bother to look up from the TV when I open the door. I notice their school bags are spewing papers and rubbish into a pile on the floor, their school shoes and socks flung here and there…

“Guys! C’mon!”

“What?!” Says Deflector

“Hmmm?” Says Actor

“Huh?” Says CC

“Mum, Can I have a Bratz doll?” Says Princess


Someone managed to get a pic just as I lost my mind.

Now they get it. Zen does not work. Calm control does not work with my children. It takes something far more obvious, ie: me losing my shit.

It’ amazing how quickly children can get to work under threat of starvation and house arrest. It takes them less than 10 minutes to clean their mess, do their chores, tidy their rooms. I put dinner on and take my wine into my bedroom. Close the door. Do not kill them.

Oh, and FYI, my closed door translates to “Do NOT disturb unless you or your sibling is bleeding, dying or on fire”.

A short while later I hear the front door slam, then “Honey I’m home!” followed by a chorus of “Hi Dad”, “Hey Dad”, “Daddy!”

They all go running to Daddy, the man who still holds sanity at 6:30 in the evenings, the one who will save them from the crazy lady.

“Where’s Mum?” he asks.

“She’s in her room” says Deflector.

“Think she had a bit of a hard day.” whispers Actor

“She’s a little bit grumpy” says Princess

“We cant figure out why!” exclaims CC


Posted in Kid Wrangling, Secret Mummy Business, Uncategorized | 5 Comments

Children Are Brain Damaged

I can hear the PC brigade tutting at me already.
You can’t say that!

Yes I can. I can say that because it’s true.
It might not be PC.
But if Bill Cosby can say it, then I can too.

Today started so nicely. All the kids are doing their chores, things are going smoothly, all is calm on the home front.
I’m straightening our walk in pantry. I notice the shopping bag of chocolates, treats that I purchased for the school holidays, are a little…askew.


The plastic shopping bag, which was tied shut, is open. The Freddo Frogs and Mini Mars Bars are open wide and half missing. There are empty wrappers in the bag.


Why do they leave evidence? Why? If they would just put things back how they found them I would never know. Geez. My sister and I were never this stupid.
Brain damage right there.

So I’m standing in the pantry having a parental dilemma. A debate with myself.

If I pretend I haven’t seen it, I don’t have to punish them….again.
And then they get away with it.
Yes, but it’s just chocolate. Not a big deal.
It’s theft.
I know but is a Freddo Frog really worth the hassle?
Today it’s a Freddo. In 4 years it’s your car in the middle of the night.

This debate goes on for a while. I know that I have to make a decision. I either have to walk away and pretend I didn’t see it. Or I call them in and hold an inquisition. The problem is, as soon as they know that I know there must be consequences.
As much as it might appear otherwise, I really don’t like punishing my kids. I don’t. I hate it. I try not to have to do it. If I punished them for every single thing I’m sure they’d spend their entire childhood in solitary confinement. I have to pick my battles.
Is this one of them?

The things children put you through. I never in a million years would have thought that I would be standing in the pantry trying to decide whether to reveal to my children that I know what they’ve done. Who knew, pre-parenting, that such dilemmas even exist?

So in the end I decide that I have to deal with it.
The frog is small, the bigger issue is, well… big.
I call four kids into the kitchen and I already know who the culprits are. I know their signs.
Captain Clumsy and Princess are clueless. Deflector and Actor and looking at their feet, trying to pretend that they have no idea why I have called them.
This is the point of no return. They know that I know.

“Who stole the chocolates?”
CC: “huh?”
Princess: “What chocolate?”
Deflector: “Umm. I don’t know.”
Actor: Looks at Deflector. He says nothing.

I rephrase my question. You can’t ask children unspecific questions. Who stole the chocolate? has SO much wriggle room. What are you doing Rachael? That’s a rookie mistake.

“CC, did you take the chocolates?”
“Huh? Chocolate? We have chocolates?”
“Princess, did you take the chocolates?”
“No? What Chocolates? Can I have a chocolate?”
“Deflector, did you take the chocolates?”
He pauses. I’ve got him. He mumbles something and I catch the word ‘one’.
A lie. He did not have one. Despite the fact that I tell him repeatedly that stealing one thing is the same as stealing one hundred things, he still thinks if he says ‘just one’ he might get off lightly. Brain Damage.
“Actor, did you take the chocolates?”
“Well, yeah. I did. I had one.”
Sigh. Give me strength.

What happens next you should never ever do. Don’t do this at home people. You’ll only make it harder on yourselves. I don’t know why I did it. Frustration perhaps. I really should know better. I have no excuse.
“Why guys? Why!?”
“I don’t know.”
“Yes you do. You do know. And you know that you are not allowed to take things that do not belong to you. That’s stealing. Why would you steal from me?”
“I don’t know “
“I don’t know is not an answer. Why?”
“I don’t know.”

Mr Cosby is right. I am right. Children really are brain damaged.
And my brain damaged children are now not going to the cinema with their friend this afternoon.


Posted in Kid Wrangling, Life and Other Mysteries, Secret Mummy Business | 2 Comments

Darwin Could Never Have Known…

During the week I attended a Parents Information Meeting at our school. There will be iPads issued to the upper school in the following weeks, and this session was a chance for parents to see how the technology is to be used to further our children’s education. There would be some discussion on cost to parents, school policy, internet safety and the like. Or so I thought.

Our principal, Mrs. C, runs through the details. She shares her nifty little PowerPoint presentation. We watch a YOUTUBE video on education in the 21st century.

It’s all very predictable. She then asks if anyone has any concerns about the new technology and 90% of parental hands fly into the air.

Mine doesn’t.

I’m thinking Internet Safety/Cyber Bullying/ Online Predators…yeah that must be it, what else is there to be worried about?

I should preface this by stating that our family is kinda tech savvy. We are not afraid of technology. We currently have a collective of 2 iPhones, 4 laptops, 1 net book, 1 iMac, 3 iPads and a couple of iPods, in our possession.

So, I’m wondering….What’s to be afraid of??

Mrs. C pre-empts with, “Are your concerns about Internet Safety”?

A couple of hands punctuate the airspace.

Well, what is everyone concerned about then? I’m wracking my brain…..what am I not getting? What is there to be worried about? I only see this technological advancement as a wonderful opportunity for our children’s education. What could I be missing?

I’m about to find out.

“How much time will our children be using the iPods in a typical day? Will it be all day?”

“What about teacher/student contact. If the children are basically being taught by a device, when is there going to be time for teacher involvement?”

“What about handwriting. Will handwriting still be a part of the curriculum”?

My mouth drops open. Really? You need to ask that question?

“And books. Will our children still be reading real books? We don’t want them to forget what real books look like!”

Its all feeling rather passive agressive to me. If it were me standing at the lectern fielding these questions I’d probably be getting quite terse by now. Mrs. C is cool as a cucumber. I realise she is probably used to answering to this particular brand of parental outrage.
She calmly explains that books and pencils will still be a very large part of our children’s education, of course they will.
I cannot believe that she actually needs to say those words.

“RSI and carpel tunnel are a real concern. We’re wondering how you are going to monitor the children’s sitting positions and what you are going to put in place to ensure these health conditions don’t result from this introduction of technology.”

My jaw hits the floor.
I would have replied ‘Well you know a child sitting at a desk with an iPad is no different to a child sitting at a desk with a book. Are you suggesting a chiropractor be on standby for each class? Or just that the teachers should be checking for ergonomically efficient positioning of your child’s bottom on their chair??’

Mrs. C. blinks. She’s looking….perplexed. I’m pretty sure she is as beginning to feel as exasperated with these questions as I am, but she hides it well. She says simply ‘Yes RSI is a concern, that is something we will monitor as time goes on’

Some of the people around me are not game to raise their question publicly but I hear them talking amongst themselves.

“What about art and creativity!? Will they still be using pencils and paints and real tangible tools?”

“Whatever happened to the good old text book?”

“Are all areas of the curriculum going to be made the responsibility of this iPad thing? There will be nothing else! Our children will grow up proficient in ‘ipad101’ and the basics of education will be lost!”

I almost wanted to leave. There was a clear division between parents and teachers. I could almost see a line forming on the carpet between parents and teachers chairs. And I didn’t want to be on the side I was on.
I just sat there shaking my head in utter disbelief.

You know it wasn’t that long ago that we didn’t even have computers in schools. I finished my VCE without the use of internet, as did all of my peers. That was only 16 years ago and the very thought is inconceivable today. I wonder if parents were afraid of introducing the humble PC into their children’s education back then. Did my parents think a PC was going to somehow strip me of my ability to write with a pencil? Or destroy my love of reading? Or hinder my interaction with my teachers?
If we go back a little further into the history of education we remember when we used to believe that the only education our children required was the three “R’s,” (reading, writing and arithmetic) together with lessons on how to be good moral, law-abiding citizens. There were opponents of this idea of course, people felt that the child of a blacksmith didn’t need any more education than what was necessary for him to become a blacksmith, the child of a farmer only what was necessary for him to be a successful farmer, our daughters’ only required education was in home economics; sewing, cooking and childrearing.
Earlier still we thought that education wasn’t really necessary at all.

Thank god for those education pioneers in our history who advocated ground-breaking concepts and believed in furthering the education of our youth in new and innovative ways.
Thank god for the amazing advocates for modern education that happen to be responsible for the tutoring of my children.

I just cannot fathom why people are so reticent to embrace such a powerful learning tool. I have no doubt whatsoever that my kids will still learn the fundamental skills of early education. I am certain that they will still write with a pencil and borrow books from the library. The curriculum is not changing; the only thing that is changing is the ability to hold a world of information and educational apps literally in the palm of their hands. What’s not to like?

We can’t change the way the world is simply by denying the changes that have happened. The Age of Technology has caused a huge cultural shift. Once a major shift in a culture occurs, you can never go back to how it once was.

You have to adapt.


Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Mum Look #203

Sometimes I find myself amidst a situation that I would swear has been lifted directly from a comedy skit. That or the halls of a mental institution.

Example: This very morning I was sitting on my bed, reading my emails and suddenly my door bursts open and two uniform clad boys erupt into my bedroom. Actor is first, he is holding a tub of butter and looks to be running for his life. He gets to the end of my bed, spins on his heel and crouches, matrix style. Keanu couldn’t have done it better himself.
Deflector follows wielding a butter knife. He stops abruptly when he sees his brother has turned toward him. The knife, in his right hand, crosses his chest and he takes it in both hands, samurai-esque. He glares at Actor.

Actor glares right back at him.

A standoff.

I wish I had a photo of this. My two, old-enough-to-know-better, boys in a Matrix/Samurai standoff with a tub of butter and a butter knife.

They start yelling at each other. “I had it first.” “No you didn’t I had it first!”
Deflector says “I was using it first and I have proof!” He waves the butter knife and flings a glob of oily butter onto my carpet.

Words fail me. I cannot form a coherent sentence. I am stuck somewhere between OneDayIWill KillYouKids and OhMyGodButtterOnMyCarpet.

I see it. The Oh-Shit, We-just-crossed-a-line look that flashes between them.
They both turn to look at me and suddenly they’re on the same team. Standoff forgotten.
Brothers in arms.

I just look at them. I am in disbelief. I say nothing but quickly realise I need to do something.
I pull out Mum Look #203


A you-have-got-to-be-kidding-me/deal-with-that-NOW combo

They silently bend down and work together to clean the mess. They have come together. They stand shoulder to shoulder and wait for further instruction.
And then Actor looks down and realises for the first time how ridiculous they both look with their butter weapons.
He smirks. Deflector giggles. I shake my head.
Is this my life? Disarming buttery battles?
They dissolve into raucous laughter and a boyish slapping of backs and fist bumps as they leave my room and go back to making their lunches.
Hilarity ensues.

Sometimes I can parent without even opening my mouth.

Posted in Kid Wrangling, Secret Mummy Business | 1 Comment

I’ll Be Right Back…

Well, what can I say? I went AWOL for a while. A long while. 
Six months to be exact.
I don’t really have a reason. Nothing exciting happened. I wish I could say I’ve been touring Europe, or learning the art of macramé whilst living in Japan. Or even that I’ve taken up cooking classes, or learned to speak fluent French. But alas, I have done none of those things.
Why didn’t I find time to write? I don’t know. I had time; I had the same 24 hours a day that we are all blessed with. What I did not have was the inclination.
In my defence, you were warned. I did tell you of my preference for the ‘all or nothing’ approach to life. Cut back to my very first blog post

I am not going to make any silly predictions along the line of “I’ll be posting once a week” because I honestly don’t know. Knowing me I will write 75 posts in the next 3 days, in a flourish of excitement, and then maybe not again for a year. That’s how I roll. If I have any sense I’ll figure out how to pace myself.

I suppose that means two things.
1. I know myself quite well, and
2. I have no sense, and therefore did not figure out how to pace myself.

Oh well.

So what is it that brings me here again, that pulls me back to the interwebs for a therapeutic word spew?
Well, I miss it. I miss my voice; I miss the catharsis that happens when I let all the words fall out. Writing really is therapy for me.
So, here I am making a promise to myself. I stand here in public domain to make myself accountable. I will make myself the promise that I was not prepared to make last year.
I hereby decree that I will make an LLL post at least once per week.

I’d better dust the cobwebs off that ‘drafts’ folder… and maybe i’ll poke the children or annoy the husband until they give some good fodder.

BRB. Promise.

Posted in Life and Other Mysteries | 2 Comments

Road Trips Are Like Childbirth.

We have enjoyed (or endured) our fair share of road trips in our time. The most notable was our 7000km round trip across the Nullarbor Plain, from Melbourne to Perth and back again. At the time Deflector was 7, Actor 5, Captain Clumsy 4 and Princess 2. People thought we were mad, but actually it was awesome. We loved every second of that trip. To this day we talk about how incredible it was. Apart from the boys needing a wee stop every 100km it was a joyous drive. Mostly because they hadn’t learned how to argue yet. When siblings learn how to argue with each other, you might as well resign yourself to the fact that you are never going to enjoy a road trip ever again. And I do mean never.again.

First thing – pack the car. Even a reasonably casual Sunday drive in the hills requires packing of provisions. My husband and I used to jump in the car with nothing but ourselves and our freedom. Not anymore.
We need wipes, drinks, food, toys, spare clothes, more food, books, a few sanity reserves packed within easy reach, some technological bribery for extra long drives, and… more food.

We all get in the car. I count heads in the rear-view mirror. One missing. CC. We are always waiting for CC. Without exception he makes us wait every.single.time.

Everybody In? Yes.
Ready to Go? Yes
Got everything? Yes
We turn out of our street and CC says “I need to wee.”
We turn out of our estate and Deflector says “I’m starving, when can we eat?”
We drive out of our suburb and Actor asks “Are we nearly there?”
We enter the Freeway and Princess squeals “I forgot my teddy…and my book!”

It doesn’t take long for 4 caged energetic kids to get bored. With the absence of movement, eating or technology, they very quickly descend into chaos.
At first we try to distract them,
“Look over there”
“Isn’t the scenery lovely?”
“See if you can spot any kangaroos”
“Count the cows”

There is no such thing as quiet reflection. No peaceful awareness of our beautiful country. Not so much as one second of quiet calm. As much as my husband and I want to look out the window at the magnificent snow capped mountains, or pretty fern gullies in absolute blissful mind numbing silence, we know there is no hope.
We try to get them to appreciate the world around them.
They just want to torture each other.  

Cars can, and do, transform reasonably good kids into feral little monsters.

‘Mum! He’s touching me!’
‘Don’t look at me’
‘That’s my window, look out your own window.’
‘Give it back!’
‘Stay on your side’
They tease, they spar, they taunt, they bicker, the gloat, the moan, they persecute each other.

We alternate the arguments with games. We play eye spy, we play car cricket, we sing until I can’t stand it anymore.
I wish for a magic soundproof partition between the front and the rear of our people mover, ala` limousine style.  
I count to ten. I try to breathe. I am Zen. I am ZEN Goddamn it!
And then all of a sudden, three quarters of the way in, our road trip turns from ‘The Journey Is The Destination’ to ‘Destination Home. Right Now. I cannot stand it. Everyone Shut Up’.
 Yes, I tell my kids to Shut Up. Let the judgement commence.

Why then, when it seems no-one is having any fun, do we insist on doing this to ourselves over and over again? Why do we continue to cage our children in the car for 7 hours in an attempt at family connectedness?


There are gems amongst the rubble.
No, really.

When Actor does something silly and we all dissolve into breath stealing laughter.

When we stop for lunch and CC takes Princess’ hand as they walk and pick wildflowers.

The looks on their little faces when they proudly present me with those flowers.

When Princess sings the wrong lyrics. “The ants are my friends; they’re blowing in the wind. The ants they are blowing in the wind”

When Deflector puts his arms around my neck and says ‘Thanks for the drive Mum; and the sandwiches, that was awesome.”

And this:

Before long these gems are the only parts of the trip you remember. Which I am certain, is the reason why we all have such fond memories of our trip across the Nullarbor. It doesn’t matter that Mummy and Daddy get to the end of the day wanting to kill someone, because road trips are like childbirth. They are long, arduous and incredibly painful, but in the end we only remember the good.

And that’s just how I like it.

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