It is time to be honest – how many of you have pulled up at your site in a caravan park and realised that there are kids in the van next door. You cringe, and think to yourself “Oh no, early morning noise!” or “All I will hear is squabbling children” or any myriad of other thoughts that may not be so pleasant. You might even be one of the ones who love the idea of camping next to a family.

Well, we are a family of four (plus the dog) and we often giggle when we see people’s faces when they realise we have two children.

For me, the best is when the van has arrived late in the evening, all the bikes are locked away and anything that might resemble children being on board (other than their bunk windows) are hidden from sight. All they want to do is set up, bunk down and have a nice sleep, so other than maybe a nod of the head in greeting, no conversation or otherwise takes place…. until the next morning.

I will get up, wonder over to the amenities block and nod my hellos as I go there and back. I make the tea (as I hate the taste of coffee) and the coffee for hubby and I sit outside in the morning sun and enjoy my cuppa. The world is quiet; the kids are asleep – okay yes, it is 8.30am and the rest of the park is awake – but my lot are asleep.

Old mate or the wife might say a hello as they check things on the other side of the van or need things out of a boot, and generally a conversation will start up…we have all been there done that. Then I hear, from behind me, the van door open and the words “Morning mum” mumbled at me, and the eyes of the neighbour widen, some will cough others will stare and I can be guaranteed that the next words will be “Ohhh, you have children.”

Now, I could be mean and pretend otherwise, but I take great joy in smiling, nodding and saying, “Darn, they woke up….that sleeping medication didn’t work real well.” Now, some walk away puzzled and avoid us thereafter, but most see the joke and get that not only will they not be woken by the kids but that they can actually lower the walls and get to know them.

We have made some great friends on the trip so far….and not one of them have we met because of our endearing personalities…. but because of the kids. They even endeared themselves to the entire Opal Caravan Park in Lightning Ridge, getting up on stage for a week and helping to perform poetry with the onsite poets “Mel and Suzie”.

Liam wrote a poem while he was there and entered it into the Dorothy McKellar Poetry Competition (receiving an individual award) and performed the poem on stage in front of the audience. An experience of a lifetime.

In Piliga, Liam chatted with the bloke camped next to us about the cattle and the drovers. It just so happened that the chap knew the drovers, and before we knew it Liam knew the drover’s and he was out there droving with them for three days. In the meantime, Mia was busy making friends with the couple parked next to us (who we cannot wait to catch up with again) as well as half the oldies in the hot bore. She made such great friends, that as they drove past her and her dad in the streets of Lightning Ridge they were yelling out the windows and waving.

I hope that my children continue to grow and learn about people without prejudice, as the one important thing I have tried to teach them is that “Everyone has a Story, and Everyone can teach you something.”

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