A family of five on a gap year tour of the UK in a motor home sharing our experiences of traveling together, and the ideas and foundations behind our daily decisions. We will post about UK travel destinations, Positive Discipline, unschooling, ecological living, Christianity, faith & children, and home cooking in a small space.
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Days 55 - 59 : Do you really want to hear about Kent?
This blog post has been marinading slowly inside me
since we set off 6 weeks ago. I am informed, reliably or not, that blog
consumers aren't really interested in where we've been or what I cooked
the family for dinner. What really gets the hit counter spinning and the
Google Ad-words revenue rolling in (just kidding, we haven't turned it
on yet) is drama, difficulty, pain, and generalling stuff going wrong.
Well if that's true then on the surface you're all going to be
disappointed; the van is in one piece, we are enjoying a week's stay
near Canterbury, the sun is shining - it's all going well. But this blog
post is not going to stay on the surface. We're going to explore the
dark underbelly of our daily experience, and I'm not talking about
emptying the chemical toilet.
any family with young children will tell you, bedtime can be difficult.
My network and friends tell me that bedtime is difficult most of the
time for most families. Well then it won't come as a shock to know that
getting the kids to sleep is a daily challenge for us, and the context
of doing it in a campervan simply adds intensity. By 7:30pm Myriam is
starting to lose control of her body and emotions, and really just needs
to go to sleep.
She helped herself to that from our supplies
So it's at this point that she will methodically move
from family member to family member and do the thing that annoys that
person the most. She will then smile sweetly, apologise, and move on to
the next victim. My personal sensitive point is causing damage to the
van, as we are in fact intending to sell this vehicle if there is
anything left of it after 12 months with us. When Myriam wants to get to
me she will literally bite chunks out of the foam headrests - but be
rest assured she's very "sowwy". This evening she pressed Laura's button
by playing the clown and putting freshly washed-up wine glasses over
her ears and doing an alien impression. "Sowwy mummy".
we can get her to just play or read quietly until she falls asleep, but
the van just isn't dark enough or quiet enough for her to fall asleep
the normal way - you know, lying in bed and closing her eyes. Twice this
week she has fallen asleep while strapped into her car seat in the
front of the van, listening to Twinkle Twinkle Little Star on repeat on
youtube for an hour. If that doesn't sound like gentle parenting,
you're probably right, but when there is nowhere else to go and no doors
to close, strapping her into a seat is the only way we can get her
brothers to bed without totally losing the plot.
about brothers, you could reasonably hope that a 9 year old and a 7
year old (well they will be that old within a month) could get
themselves off to bed quietly without any fuss. What I have discovered
over the last few years is that if you leave tired 9 and 7 year old
brothers to themselves to do anything at all, then the outcome is almost
always a fight.
This could be just low level skirmishing, or it could
be full-on neck-hold while punching, but the result is always the same -
a 120dB siren of a wail which the younger child lets out in order to
inform parents and regional authorities that elder brother is hurting
him. This sonic weapon is deployed at every opportunity, and at bed time
the elder brother brushing against him while making his way to the
bathroom is sufficient to trigger it off. To be fair, the elder brother,
frequently fustrated by younger brother's skillful manipulation of
parents just resorts to a good old punch to solve most of his issues.
There is no beginning and no end to this conflict. It started the day
Nathanael could crawl and will go on until they either seriously injure
each other or until they realise that violence doesn't solve anything.
daily conflict in my face makes me miserable. I have spent my life
trying to avoid conflict and I have no experience or tools for dealing
with brotherly violence. We do now have a penalty system in place which
has been agreed with them and the fines are 10p for starting a fight,
10p for continuing a fight. Here's hoping that the love of money will
save me from their brawling. In the mean time I have recently added
headphones and a bottle of whisky to the van inventory to help with moral.
get me wrong with this post - in no way are things all bad. What things are,
is more intense. The good moments are better, and the bad moments are
harder. Now, let's hope that the ad-revenue from this will pay for my single-malt supply....
Still hoping to find out something about Kent?
Good things :
- Canterbury city has impressed us with it's city walls, Roman burial mounds, imaginitive play areas, river punting, Cathedral gateway and bus services.
- Richborough Roman fort ruins, the gateway to Britain before Eurostar
- Thanet used to be an island - who knew?
Bad things :
- Local FM radio adverts for Canterbury Tiles with ye olde medeival music.
- St. Augustin's Golf course, St. Augustin's Leisure centre... amazing all the stuff the old man was into
- We're here until Tuesday so I'll keep you posted...