Biscuits hold the key to success
"DAMMIT,” said Tracey.
She was standing outside the door to our bus looking frustrated with herself - which if I'm honest was a lovely change to her looking frustrated with me.
Although we weren't due to leave Canungra until the following day, while the sun was still out and everything was verging towards dry we were in the throes of packing up our outdoor kit - the gazebos, cooking gear, tables, chairs and the most important bits, the tent insert and inflatable daybed.
The whole thing was going really well, bar two little matters.
The first was Miss5 chucking a rather impressive tantrum because we told her she couldn't open a pack of biscuits sitting in the car for an intended excursion after we'd finished packing.
The second thing was a little more worrying.
"What's up?” I asked Tracey.
"I left the keys on the table.”
"Are you kidding?” I sighed, because sometimes she does that sort of thing.
This wasn't the first time Tracey had been in charge of the keys and managed to lock us out.
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Not even the first time this week.
Only the night before I'd ended up having to tap on a window to wake Miss13 at a bit after midnight.
"Where have you been?” Miss13 surprised me by asking as she opened the door. She was squinting accusingly. At this point I gaped a little because I'd expected her to let us in and go back to bed. I certainly hadn't expected to be interrogated or I would have prepared something while I waited for her to get out of bed.
Read as: I had nothing.
"The toilets before bed,” said Tracey.
I just about had to bite my tongue to stop from saying, "well done”.
"Sure,” said Miss13, sounding disbelieving.
And suddenly I felt like a teenager again myself, having to explain my whereabouts to my disbelieving dad.
"We have,” I blurted out, in theory backing Tracey up but more accurately just doing what I always did and digging a bigger hole for myself.
I'm so out of practice with lying it sounded whiney even to me.
Then I backed my assertion up with the one word which every parent knows means they're being told a furphy. "Honest.”
Not honest, of course.
We hadn't ducked out to the loo, obviously.
We'd been hanging out in the tent.
"We can't do that again,” Tracey whispered to me as we climbed up into our bed.
Working on the assumption she meant we couldn't allow ourselves to get locked out of the bus, and not that we weren't going to attempt to canoodle again until all the kids had left home, when I woke up I made sure I went to the local hardware to have a key cut which we could hide somewhere in case this sort of thing ever happened again.
Ever arrived immediately.
"I'm not kidding you,” said Tracey. Then she looked accusingly at me and asked, "Where are yours?”
"Beside yours, I imagine,” I told her.
"Lucky you got a spare key cut,” said Tracey.
Now you might think me a little silly to announce the fact there is a key to our bus hidden somewhere around it. It's a big bus, with lots of nooks and too many crannies.
More tellingly, what you're failing to realise is there's already a spare key hidden somewhere on our bus. The previous owner told us about it. Not only that, he pointed to where it's hidden.
We have never found it.
"Ah. Yes. About that,” I mumbled.
"It's inside the bus, isn't it.” Not a question.
Fortunately, one of our kids was still on the inside of the bus as well.
"Open the door,” we called in through the glass.
"What?” said Miss5, popping herself down on the step in the doorway and smirking out at us like we were complete morons.
The power of observation is strong with this one.
I took over negotiations at this point. By which I mean, threats. By which I mean, I got nowhere and, if anything, Miss5 looked even more smug.
It was Tracey who came up with the key to getting the door open.
"Would you like a biscuit?” she asked Miss5 sweetly, dangling the pack from the car in front of the glass.
I'm thinking hiding a pack of chocolate chip cookies somewhere under the bus might prove a little more of a challenge.
Learn more about Bruce's efforts to raise his family on little more than laughs at bigfamilylittleincome.com