By Kelly Wilton
You know those times when you think to yourself about having an adventure – those “yeah, we can do that, we are SO going to do that” moments?
Well, this is a story of one of those times.
Just recently, it was our 12 year wedding anniversary and my husband decided he wanted to do something different to celebrate. Remember it, I thought?!
Anyway, he went ahead and booked a houseboat for us, which would see us go from the top of the Tweed River (on the border of NSW/QLD) down to some place which sounded like we were somewhere near Mexico.
Sounds promising, I thought to myself (they have tequila in Mexico, so that’s a good omen!).
We arrived at our houseboat and promptly went through the safety drill. This turned out be a complete waste of time because we live for a bit of danger, and as we were soon to find out, wherever we go, it tends to follow!
I had thought that Gilligan’s Island would have a nice ring to it for a name for this special trip but it soon became clear that – Captain Chaos and his Cabin Crew – was more appropriate. It turned out that we had a full crew on board: Captain Chaos, Chaos Cabin Crew 1,2 and 3 (12 year old and 8 year old boy/girl twins). And a Deck Hand.
As our house boat started to move, that’s when the first problem occurred. Our twins decided to move too. And quickly. They were up on the top deck within seconds of being told that the number one rule was to always have ‘a big person’ with you.
Note to self: work on social story 2 months prior to even getting on a boat about ‘getting on a boat’!
After spending the next two hours going over the NUMBER ONE RULE, we discovered that we hadn’t packed enough food. Or the right food. And critically for my son, no chicken nuggets!
Stranded. Yes, you could say so!
We headed down the Tweed River, and by the afternoon we lowered the anchor for our first stop. ‘I’m bored, where’s the Netflix, are we home tomorrow, Donalds?? (as in McDonalds’) – were frequent refrains from the Chaos Crew.
Needing some relief, I decided to crack open our anniversary bottle of wine a tad early (3 days before the day). It was a good decision, as 24 hours into our trip, we had already lost the tinnie and nearly one of the twinnies! My daredevil son nearly went overboard, following his decision to climb the railings, not realising he was high up (because when you are visually impaired with no spacial awareness, you sometimes forget to accommodate for your new surroundings).
Looking back, WHO IN THEIR RIGHT MIND WOULD DECIDE THAT A BOAT HOLIDAY WITH A CHILD WHO HAPPENS TO HAVE THE MIDDLE NAME OF DANGER AND A LIMITLESS A SENSE OF ADVENTURE, WOULD BE A GOOD IDEA!!
It’s us. US! We are THAT family.
The first time we lost the tinnie (yes it happened more than once!) we realised that the rope tied up to tender it, had snapped. Or someone had not tied it up properly! But let’s not point fingers… yet – we’ve got another 48 HOURS to get through, people!
Captain Chaos bellowed across the flat, calm waters of wherever the hell we were for a member of Chaos Crew to help him rescue the tinnie before it became bogged. As the canoe was lowered into the water, we realised that the oars were actually on the tinnie! So off the rescuers went with a SAND SIFTER to steer their way to the rescue!
With the tinnie rescued, calm descended (for about 15 seconds), and off we went further south down the river.
With gentle whinges accompanying the gentle breeze we finally reached our second destination where we were going to be on dry land with the town folk. I don’t know what I was more excited about; the fact we had moored outside a Tavern, or the toilet sign. We had already blocked and overflowed the on-board toilet several times and a sh*t-storm was literally brewing!
We caught some fish, two all up – which meant we would be having a fish finger each for supper. There was a beautiful sunset and a family board game (yes, we can do this, I think to myself, AGAIN!) before it nearly gets chucked over board following a hurl of abuse from my youngest daughter to the oldest. I was actually quite impressed at how the 8 year old holds her own and gives as good as she gets. I make a mental note that I must tell her teacher that her vocab is really improving (this speech therapy is really paying off, although we need to work on our practice, patience and turn taking skills, I note this time, as I drink down my wine.)
The next day we promise the kids a swim, which is slightly hard as there is nowhere to actually swim from apart from off the back of the boat. For the past 48 hours I’ve been SHOUTING to them to not jump from the boat and now I find myself – encouraging them to JUMP FROM THE BOAT!
YOU CAN DO THIS, I bellow towards my son, thinking how great this is for physio, swimming skills, confidence building and trust. Well, that trust flies straight outta the water, when in he jumps (with his swim jacket on, of course), and he realises, as he comes up – how incredibly daunting it is being in a huge body of water that is not your nana’s pool! He comes up gasping – nana’s pool, nana’s pool – scared! After his 3 second swim, he’s done.
That is his first and last swim of the entire trip.
I try to console him but I see the look he gives me. The trust is gone. I did not warn him that it would not be as fun as jumping into your nana’s pool. Why would you do that to me mummy? His eyes bore into mine. You are a naughty mummy, his eyes tell me. You will have to buy me lots of chicken nuggets before I forgive you.
Note to self: I am now wondering how many trips to McDonalds I will make with him to gain back his trust? How many chicken nuggets will this actually equate to?
Finally, the big day – the whole reason for trip, arrives – it’s our wedding anniversary! Instead of rolling out of bed and into a local café, we roll out of bed, looking more like Captain Jack Sparrow after a heavy night. The kids decide to really up their game today. They sense we are weak, but this time we try and outsmart them – we try bribery!
We tell them, during a yelling match that, for our own sanity, and theirs, we require 26 seconds of uninterrupted silence. We go to the top deck and pour from our nearly empty bottle of anniversary wine (sorry about that dear husband!).
Note to self: Must pack more emergency wine next time.
The time ticks by all too quickly. Accepting that our 26 seconds of uninterrupted silence has concluded, we announce that we will find a spot to moor for our last night! Everyone cheers and starts staying – does that mean we are going home tomorrow?! ‘Donalds, ‘donalds?! Netflix?!
The load seems somewhat lighter as we make our way back up the Tweed River. Maybe next year, we will celebrate on land!
End note: A week on from our trip, we have visited ‘Donald’s’ 16 times and consumed 47 and a half nuggets. The trust is being rebuilt.