Holiday Zoo

What happens when you bunk 6 adult together with their 8 children in a small house in the mountains for a holiday weekend?

Chaos, that’s what.  A pandemonium of human interactions.

“Don’t forget the beer and wine, please.”  Sophie text her husband Ian as we were driving up to the mountains with her car full of her brood and mine, plus all their kit and food for a three day weekend.  The only trouble was that Ian had just turned in his work phone, that being his last day of work, and he never got the text.

When the guys turned up later they had beer, and they had their own clothes.  Nothing more.  Sophie cast a desperate glance at the half bottle of red on the kitchen counter.  That was not going to last the weekend.  “I thought I only had to bring myself, and you were sorting the rest!” Ian protested.  Sophie was NOT impressed.

“I just bring earplugs now,” Ian Pendle shouted cheerfully as he wiped the counter.  “I know the noise gets to me, so I make sure to have earplugs.  Then I’m fine.”  Occasionally he would retreat to a chair, ensconced behind the yellow foam plugs and iphone, re-emerging an hour later to rejoin the fray.

Mobilization to leave the bach was impressive, to say the least.  We should have mounted a camera in a corner and recorded the mayhem, starting at 6:00 a.m. when Milo first emerged from his sleeping bag to nibble a banana and draw with markers, going on to the revolving bowls of cereal and dish washing, the clothing and unclothing of small bodies, the smacking together of sandwiches, and finally the after-exit silence and descending.

“Naomi, you are going to need a hat; it’s cold out.”  Jeremiah tries the age-old parental strategy—logic.

“No!  Mommy do it!” Hat is torn off head and hurled to the floor.  “Oh, come ON, Naomi!” I’m exasperated, but when I push the hat over the braid it stays.

“Milo, yesterday you were cold because you chose not to wear a long sleeve shirt—you’re going to want the merino today.”  “Hurmph!” he huffs, but later I notice him wearing the garment.  Logic works better with five year olds than two year olds.

“Can you get the girls’ boots on?” Sophie enlists Ian’s help in the clothing battle.

“Are these our pink boots?” Ian enquires, holding up Naomi’s pink but obviously-too-small-for-his-girls boots.  For some unexplainable reason, dads rarely recognize their children’s clothing.  Probably because they don’t do the laundry.

“Ach, I should have just gotten them myself!” Sophie exclaimed, snatching up the two pairs of pinkish girl’s boots next to Naomi’s.  Mothers don’t understand how Fathers DON’T recognize their children’s clothing, probably because they are doing laundry ALL THE TIME.  “Can you get Ella’s fleece on?”

“I did put on her fleece, but she keeps peeling it off again!”  Ian protests.  “Now I don’t know where it is!”

“Naomi peed on the floor!”  The cries, directed at me (obviously) resonate down the hallway.

“NaOOmiii!  Why?”  I’m exasperated.  She’s well potty trained now, but this weekend she’s blasted through all her undies, leaving puddles in her wake.  “Me peed,” she says.  Duh.

“You can use the blue towel,” Emma offers.  “I just take them from work, and we can throw it away.”

I dab at the puddle on the pea green carpet, then toss the towel and Naomi’s clothes into my burgeoning laundry bag.

Amid squawks and raucous we eventually exit, 6 adults and 8 children.

Evening games included nearly everyone, but only some would pose for a photo.

Evening games included nearly everyone, but only some would pose for a photo.

The first day of the three day weekend it rained, serious "southerly" rain.  We found all the leaks in our rain gear, including the one housing my phone (camera).  Thankfully it dried out and started behaving itself again.

The first day of the three day weekend it rained, serious “southerly” rain. We found all the leaks in our rain gear, including the one housing my phone (camera). Thankfully it dried out and started behaving itself again.

The second day dawned beautifully, and we took the gang out to the Otira valley.

The second day dawned beautifully, and we took the gang out to the Otira valley.

It's impossible to get all the kids grinning nicely at once, but here's my best shot.  This was just after a cold-hand melt down and just before a trip-and-fall melt down.

It’s impossible to get all the kids grinning nicely at once, but here’s my best shot. This was just after a cold-hand melt down and just before a trip-and-fall melt down.

One afternoon we set up a slack line borrowed from a friend.  Naomi thinks it's a skinny trampoline.

One afternoon we set up a slack line borrowed from a friend. Naomi thinks it’s a skinny trampoline.

One morning the kids got out pictionary and, completely without adult intervention, invented a game they could all play happily, without reading (or drawing).  It felt like a miracle.

One morning the kids got out pictionary and, completely without adult intervention, invented a game they could all play happily, without reading (or drawing). It felt like a miracle.

One morning our friends took Naomi and Milo, and we walk part way up Mt Bealey.  It's such a good feeling to pop out above the trees to epic views like this.

One morning our friends took Naomi and Milo, and we walked part way up Mt Bealey. It’s such a good feeling to pop out above the trees to epic views like this.

New Zealand Southern Alps.

New Zealand Southern Alps.

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2 thoughts on “Holiday Zoo

  1. Having only read your serious Ag writing from CCE earlier in our friendship, I SO ENJOY your writing in the BURL Blog. Such pictures it paints on paper. Thank you for sharing.

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