Camping with small children is all about Togetherness.
There is no television or computers or telephones to distract you, no walls to separate you, no toilet trip to be taken unaccompanied. You go to bed at the same time as the kids, you rise together at first birdcall, you eat together, you shower together, you laugh together, you cry inconsolably together.
And when you camp along a major route at Christmas time, you share a lot of togetherness time with a lot of other campers as well. For the record, I take no great pleasure in parading in front of a group of 20-something revelers in my floral pyjamas at 7 o’clock at night. Nor do I enjoy brushing my teeth less than a metre from a fellow camper taking a dump. Still, it’s all part of the communal camping experience and my internal hippy embraces that. No, really.
But in a recent camping stop at ‘Seaford’ (not it’s real name), I learnt that there was sharing and then there was sharing.
As we pulled into Seaford, we were greeted with a sign that said “Seaford says NO to Violence.” I don’t know about you but it was a sight that didn’t exactly fill my heart with confidence. Things must be pretty bad if the council had to advertise the fact they said NO to violence. I mean, it should be assumed that most towns in Australia would say NO to Violence, in the same way as they might say NO to Drink Driving, Wanton Destruction of Property, Excessively-Wide Shoulder Pads and (in a perfect world) Bratz Dolls. But there were no signs advertising any of that.
And in any case, who ever took notice of something that was written on a sign anyway? Except maybe “STOP” and “FREE BEER”.
ANYWAY, as we pulled up to our designated camping spot at the Seaford caravan park, we were understandably a little apprehensive when we saw our two young male neighbours, Jim Beam towel hung out like a flag, drinking beer at 3 o’clock. And they no doubt looked with equal trepidation at both my husband and I shouting at our three screaming children with Dire Straits blaring from the stereo (my husband’s choice, I’ll have you know). It was hard to know who’d got the worse deal.
In the end, it was The Pixie who swung it. Not only did she treat the entire campground to a “special show” which involved her shouting songs of her own creation from a wall outside the toilet blocks, but when I took her into the toilet, she announced in a very loud voice: “Oh, I don’t need to go to the toilet after all! I thought I did because my bottom was hurting. It must be hurting because I must have a BOTTOM BISEASE! Oh no! I can’t do my Show any more because of my BOTTOM BISEASE!” and crying loudly.
By the time we walked back to our tent past our neighbours, she had recovered enough to cheerfully ask (just as loudly): “Is Baby Jesus growing in my tummy?” and then, a few steps later, “Mummy, have you ever been stabbed? With a knife??”.
My answer? Certainly not in Seaford, where they say NO to Violence. Apparently. Although try telling that to my children who went on to spend at least an hour jumping around the tent shouting “I’m gonna smack your bum-bum!” before finally collapsing asleep. Sheesh, no wonder the people of Seaford put that sign up.
As for those two young men? They scurried out of camp with their slab of beer at the first opportunity to do their reveling elsewhere. We were too hardcore for them. Fact.