Touring with any group of mixed
ability involves mixing, matching and adapting what you
do to meet the needs of everyone. Our little ones have some
particular needs and interests which impact upon our itinerary
and stopping off points.
"Mummy, Mummy, Mummy, stop,
I need a wee. I need a wee" is a regular heckle from
Cameron. And where-ever we are we stop so he can play pee
pee in the wind. He's gradually learning which way to face.
Cameron disembarks from Matthews'
sleeping bag airplane to declare a need for a 'wee wee'
While both Matthew and Cameron have their
own little rucksack of toys in their buggies, they seem
to make little use of them preferring to devise their own
entertainment which usually involves a pet toy they brought
from home and other items they find in their trailers. Matthew
is trying to train his Puppy Wuppy and spends hours devising
new chokers and leads for him from a piece of string, velcro
tabs and an extendible cable lock. Meanwhile Cameron tries
endlessly to steal Matthew's cable lock so he and Lamby
can use it as a telephone to speak to Granny Beads and Granny
in London. And when the wheels stop turning or when we strike
camp, a favourite team game involves building and flying
airplanes with a Thermarest undercarriage, soft sleeping
bag wings, and a camping pot nose. Matthew is the pilot
and Cameron can be a passenger but only if he has a ticket.
While we pursue
our own adventures on the bikes, the boys are keen to pursue
theirs on New Zealand's playgrounds. "Daddy, Daddy,
Daddy, Stop, Stop. I've seen one. We need to stop."
Matthew shouts as he struggles to make himself heard from
behind his windshield. "A great big playground Dad.
STOP." And we do and while Matthew and Cameron burn
off some energy Mum and Dad can rest, regain theirs and
watch the kids play for a while.
The boys like to burn off energy
at any playground they spot - at campsites, parks and schools
Their play is physical and boisterous,
energy surging after the relative confinement of an hour
or so in their buggies. The air fills with screams, laughter
and the sound of sibling power struggles as the boys are
reunited after their brief period of separation. And as
they play they seem to seek out challenges and thrills amongst
the playground equipment. Watching them you can almost see
their skills and confidence develop as they figure out how
to do the impossible. At first watching others, then maybe
asking for help, advice or a hand to hold, and then at some
magical moment (usually when your back is turned) finding
the courage to have a go alone, the joy of "I did it
on my own" clear from their smiling faces. This drive
to test and develop skills through challenge seems instinctive
and full of pleasure... at least when it works and they're
not on the floor with a mouth full of bark chippings.
Bouncing with joy as they test
their skills on the trampoline in the school playground
at Blackmount School
And with nothing much else
for us to do there is so much more opportunity not just
to watch them but to play and be with them. To talk with
them about the places we have been, things we have seen,
people we have met. To listen to them chatter about this
and that and nothing at all. To try and answer their questions
about whatever is in their head. To make up stories, silly
songs and poems and pass the time of day laughing together.
Playtime is precious time.