Friday 28th October 2016.
The longest day in the world is finally nearly over. Although I am at Licola, still feeling nauseaous after the drive and kind of hating everything in the world, so you know, it’s still not that great.
I spent most of the day at the school helping with the whole puppet mess. Seriously, the whole thing is so badly organised and thought out it’s driving me crazy. It’s like the central idea behind it keeps changing, and no one has any idea what they’re actually doing but we have to just keep muddling along anyway.
The way it was originally introduced, the kids were all going to make puppets – whatever character and whatever type they wanted – and then going to create a performance with those puppets. Then the stories they were going to make up were supposed to have something to do with folk tales, or that style of story telling anyway (which is why I watched those folk tales in Indonesian with the kids). Then the puppet lady started in on the idea of ‘fences’, and fences that have been put up and pulled down in Australian society over history, and the kids were supposed to work out stories based around that. (Based around history that they haven’t learned about and don’t understand yet.) Now she’s turned up with scripts she’s written, and the kids have to make their puppets into the characters for this play, even if they were originally supposed to be things like dogs and squids and Pokemon.
It’s just such a mess. And I honestly have no idea how the puppet lady actually thought this would get done – the only reason we got ANY sewing done or bodies put together today because there was me and Eva (another mum) with our sewing machines and the piles of fabric we’d dragged along. The puppet lady brought some materials along, but there was nowhere near enough to make puppets for all the kids so I really don’t know what she was thinking.
Truthfully I’m pretty fed up with it. I helped a lot of kids sew gloves or basic body shapes today, but it was so loud and chaotic and confusing, and we’re also nowhere near being done. And even once the puppets are ready we will have to work out staging and performances, so this will drag on until the end of the year.
I don’t know. At the start of the whole thing I thought the idea was for the kids to make a puppet and explore puppet performance and be all creative, and it is disappointingly not like that!
I didn’t stay all day, even though that meant that one class missed out on having me there to sew their things. And while I’m hardly very good at doing that, without me there then there wasn’t anyone so I’m better than no one! But I had a headache and we had to leave for Licola after school, so I went home at lunchtime and spent an hour packing and then trying to relax before I drove back to school to collect Jericho and Soren.
The drive up here was pretty bad. We had to stop twice (to buy food and to go to the toilet) and there was SO much holiday traffic we were basically at a standstill on the Monash freeway for ages. Then there is the last forty five minutes of horribly winding road to get here, and despite taking the ginger travel sickness pills that worked so well last year I felt like I was going to die. I probably cried for the last twenty minutes and then got here and threw up, so as you can see I’m off to a stellar beginning for this weekend of family togetherness.
Although slightly less family togetherness this year, since Adam and Susan and the kids aren’t here. They’re going to Queensland for a holiday instead, and even though I hate hot weather I am jealous of them and would a million times rather be there than here!
Brett, April and the kids are all here though. Joy. I’m already grinding my teeth though. We got here at 9 tonight (after leaving home about 4.30, ugh) and the kids kind of put all their stuff away, talked to their cousins for a bit, put on their pyjamas and went to bed. Fifteen minutes later they were still chatting, and Brett came out to ask that we maybe make them be quiet, since he has his little boys in bed. And while this might be a reasonable request from anyone else in the world, I just wanted to shout at him. They weren’t even being noisy. And every single other year we’ve been here, we’ve been the ones with kids in bed trying to go to sleep while HIS kids were up playing games and running about and you can bet your ass he wasn’t doing anything about it then.
I really don’t like it here. I know Steve and Jean love it, and have such a thing about seeing the kids together, but this is the fourth year we’ve done this and I’m over it. SO OVER IT! It’s a horrendous drive here, my kids don’t love it, I detest spending so much time with Troy’s brothers and their families…I know I’m sounding like the biggest bitch in the world, but that’s the way it is. Troy and I just suggested to his mum that next year we go somewhere else and she seemed extremely unimpressed with that idea, although she told us that if we found somewhere to go with no internet and activities for the kids she’d go along. Since we are probably in the only place in the whole damn STATE without internet, good luck with that. Ugh.
Anyway, obviously I am just in a terrible, horrible, very bad mood. And there’s no internet so I can’t post this anyway, so I think I will just end it here and head off to bed – the sooner I go to sleep the sooner it will be tomorrow, then the sooner it will be Sunday and the sooner I will be able to go home.
Saturday 29th October 2016.
Another long day today, but it was quite a nice one. Troy woke me up with pancakes and strawberries, which was a lovely start to the day, and it continued to be fairly relaxed for me.
We started our activities for the morning with archery, which has always been one of the kids’ favourites. Troy and I made Nicholai come with us, which he was SO unimpressed with. He seems to find the idea of doing anything with the family absolutely excruciating at the moment, but since the only redeeming element of this weekend for me is spending time with the kids it was worth it to make him!
Unfortunately, family activity time only lasted as long as it took us to do some archery in the end. Nicholai just stomped away in disgust, and so we gave up and Troy and I went off to the rock wall with Emma and Jericho and Soren. Jericho was the only one who wanted to climb, and then we did the obstacle course and played on the low ropes course and had a try of the CFA fire hose. The kids were all disappointed to find that canoeing wasn’t available this weekend though, since apart from archery it’s the only activity they all like. But the river is running really high and it wouldn’t be safe, so no canoeing.
Emmanuella, Jericho and Soren really didn’t seem all that keen on any of the other activities, but when we saw that the swimming pool was actually open (it hasn’t been any of the other years we’ve come here) they all wanted to go swimming. That part of the morning was really lovely – the kids were all having fun in the pool with Troy, and I took some photos and then sat on my towel in the shade and read on my Kindle.
I fell asleep after lunch, which was not planned, but was good since I really slept badly last night. When I woke up, Jericho told me that he had tried abseiling and had really liked it, and he thought I might like to come and take photos of him doing this. Of course I was happy to oblige, so we did that, and then the kids went back to the pool with Troy and I stayed inside and taught April to crochet.
The kids are exhausted tonight. We made them all have showers after tea, then they read for a while before I told them it was bedtime and there was not one murmur of disagreement. I haven’t heard a peep from them since, either.
Now all the other adults except me are playing cards, which is fine with me. I hate cards and don’t want to play at all, and I’d rather do my journal and sort out the photos I took today than do anything else.
Sunday 30th October 2016.
Today was definitely another long day, but at least it’s ending with us all back home.
The drive back took forever. It didn’t take too long to pack up this morning, although then Troy had to go off for secret meetings with Brett and April and his dad, so that delayed leaving for a little while. I drove out in an effort to not feel as wretchedly sick as I had on the drive in, which was only semi-successful as although I didn’t have to stop and throw up, I did feel nauseous and blah the whole time. We stopped once for lunch, once for the toilet, and once for fuel, and ended up getting home around three – it felt like we’d been gone for weeks.
I really, really don’t want to go to Licola again next year. I know we’ll be expected to go, but if it’s up to me I really think we might skip it. It’s a four or five hour drive, with the last/ first hour and a half being basically torture, and then two nights and a day with Troy’s relatives. While I do love his parents, his brothers and all the baggage and drama they bring with them…I don’t actually like it. Or them. I do like spending time with my own husband and kids, so that part is fun, but I don’t have to go all the way to Licola to do that! And while the kids like some parts of being there, and really do a good job in general about making the best of things, they don’t love it enough to make it worthwhile putting up with all the other crap.
And the more time I am forced to spend with Brett and April, the worse I feel about them. It’s not just that they do things, or parent, in ways that I don’t agree with. Other people do that, and even though I might not agree with it or think it’s best, I still believe that they are making valid choices for them. But Brett and April do things and make choices that I believe are unequivocally wrong and bad. I was talking about it with Troy on the drive home, and he said it is the difference between philosophy and morals, which I think is probably a pretty accurate way of looking at it.
Brett and April both complain about Rachel and custody and child support endlessly. Brett acts like he’s a blameless victim of circumstances which is utter horseshit – he chose to marry Rachel and create these kids with her knowing full well what kind of person she is. He can’t turn around now and act like Rachel’s evil for wanting to keep the kids in private school, when he was still married to her and agreed to it in the first place. He and April shouldn’t be acting like they are the injured party because they have to pay a high amount of child support alongside the regular household bills – those three kids were there FIRST, and he and April knew damn well what they were getting in to when they hooked up and decided to have more kids. Brett had a responsibility to the kids he already had, and if he couldn’t support them then maybe he should have really thought twice about having more. I feel nothing but contempt for the way he has consistently tried to minimise the amount of support he pays for them. I’m sorry, but when you have FIVE kids aged 13 and under you don’t get to have a mid life crisis and stop supporting them – I honestly think that at this point he just has to suck it up and do what he has to do for them, because right now it’s not about him.
And also, I have never managed to have a conversation with April where she does not get in several bitchy digs about Rachel/ child support/ custody arrangments/ Rachel’s parenting. And…don’t bring me in to this. I’m not actually on your side! For all I didn’t like Rachel when she and Brett were married, she parents those kids the majority of the time – she does school and homework and dinner and activities and shopping for their needs, and if the way the kids are going at the moment is any indication, she’s doing, at the least, a completely adequate job. In contrast, Brett and April have them every second weekend, so they don’t do any of the responsibility shit. Which was very noticeable this weekend, since the kids did not shower and wore the same clothes for the whole three days, and also didn’t brush their teeth since one of them didn’t even have a toothbrush. I just think it’s ridiculous that they’re constantly trying to talk down Rachel for being a shitty parent and talk themselves up – did they not notice that when they tried for primary custody they not only did not get it, they actually got their access cut in HALF? I’m sorry, but while the system can be shit, if Rachel was really as bad as all that and they were as good as they seem to think, no judge would have changed the custody arrangement in favour of her having more time the way they did.
Ugh. I really shouldn’t let it bother me as much as it does, but it’s hard. They keep dragging us in to their crap for one, but even more than that I actually really like those three kids and thinks it’s a damned shame that they have to live with the stuff they do. They are good kids who deserve so much more than what they’ve ended up with.