Sitting down in a lawn chair in the living room of our new sticks and bricks for an unpacking break, my mind was in a fog of cardboard and box cutters. From the corner of my eye, I saw the back door open, and Jake’s peanut butter and jelly hand slowly and awkwardly reach into the house, grab something from off the floor, slam the door shut and run away into the backyard. At the time my only thought was that I could see him once again so that was good. Ever since the moving truck arrived, he and Morgan started a game called “Boxtrolls,” where they would crawl inside any moving box and roll it around the open spaces until Military Man or I would shout the line from the actual movie, “Boxtrolls.”
In our worst British accents with a hint of redneck we would say, “Looook at all these boxes juuust lyyyyy-ING aboooouuuut!” and the boxes would giggle, until we would poke them with our toes during unpacking. Then, a child would jump from their hiding place and take off box-less to a new empty container in a different room. Sometimes the boxtrolls jumped and giggled, but occasionally Jake fell asleep in one and we would have to find him. Actually we would tell Arco to find him, and it never took long. He just likely followed the smell of sweaty boy mixed with dirt and crumbs.
We’d been playing the boxtroll game for two days when I sat down and saw Jake sneaking something from the floor. I actually thought later it was the dog poop bags and he was finally making his own wish come true – to pick up Arco and Gunney’s gigantic turds. I was so tired that I just didn’t care.
Until Morgan stood at the backdoor, looking out the window and muttered, “what the hell?”
“Morgan!” I said. “Check your mouth!” My six-year-old is all about muttering “the rude words” just out of earshot so we “can’t punish her if we don’t know exactly what she said.”
Standing up to see what she was looking at, I saw Jake, sitting in the kid’s John Deere gator, pretending to drive it. Every so often he would throw his head back and crack up laughing, then grab the steering wheel with one hand and wave frantically with the other to pretend drivers. The battery was dead from being in storage so the gator didn’t actually go, but he was passing someone all the same. I opened the door just in time to hear a strange mechanical redneck voice bellow,
“Now that’s some major Buuuuull Shit right there!” and Jake was covering his face and laughing again.
“JAKE WALKER! You give back your daddy’s BS button right now!” I yelled at him. Realizing he hadn’t stolen the poop bags, but instead found the gag gift I sent Military Man for one of his deployments a few years ago, it was what I saw Jake swipe from the corner of my eye and was now using it to play “Angry Driver.”
“What was it doing on the floor,” asked Military Man when I told him the story later. “I have no idea,” I replied. “It must have been in one of the random junk boxes we let the kids unpack, well dump, all over the kitchen.”
“And where did he learn a game called Angry Driver,” asked Military Man.
“Have you seen how you drive,” I retorted? “Technically Jake called the game “Daddy Driver” but I changed it to “Angry Driver” so you don’t feel bad about yourself.”
Going back to unpacking more boxes after monitoring Jake’s lengthy timeout, I started thinking about how simple life was in the Crowded Camper. It took us one hour to unpack all of our belongings from the RV into our new home, and as I placed them in their new spaces I felt sad that I couldn’t just reach out and touch everything all at one time. Now, the clothes were upstairs, kid’s toys were in their own rooms, dishes down in the kitchen, books in a pile in the future office… The camper was so simple, so easy to clean, and so crowded with every space always serving multiple purposes.
People always ask me why I call our 41’ fifth wheel a Crowded Camper, and I always reply that it’s not about the size of the camper, but the size of the life you squeeze into it. Kids play and sleep and craft and cry and get into mischief, and bring back leaves from walks, and sit on the kitchen counter for boo-boo repair. I sew arms on dolls and patches on pants from the bathroom, and Military Man used the bedroom to sleep, to study, to work, to thread fishing poles and to sometimes, occasionally fold the laundry. The dogs claimed every space as their own personal priority number one for whatever they wanted, and the fish lived on top of the stove. Nevermind the kids also slept in the living room by night and home-schooled during the day. Everyone that ever spends time in an RV understands the nature of every space serving multiple purposes, and looking at it that way, it’s easy to see why Crowded Camper is a description of the lifestyle you put into it, not necessarily the size of the rig.
Looking at our house now, with more than 200 boxes left to unpack, I found myself missing that simple life already. “Dang it self, make up your mind! One second you want out of the camper and now you want back in it…” I was so ready to get some space where my bathroom didn’t have to be my office, but I was drowning in sea of boxes and the claustrophobia was enough to make any normal person wish they were just anywhere but there.
“Most of our furniture is broken or damaged,” said Military Man as we surveyed the inventory of possessions we’d waited for since February to come out of storage. Two desks, a hutch, and a mirrored side table were all cracked and broken. Our 42-gun safe was apparently dropped somewhere on the move and the steel rods were engaged, meaning a locksmith has to drill it for about $600. The treadmill we literally just finished paying off was dropped on its nose and cracked worse than old deck paint. The pintail duck mount had his butt broken off because he wasn’t in a sturdy crate; just thrown into a cardboard box. The list goes on and on and on, and our insurance claim is nearly $10,000. Now it’s a waiting game to see what the moving company argues and then we argue back. It’s a good thing we are hoarders and kept every receipt for every large item we’ve ever bought.
Feeling bitterness with each box I cut open, I was brought back to reality by the kids once again. This time they were shouting, and banging around downstairs, and things were crashing in the distance. Believing they were fighting, I ran downstairs (muttering to myself about how many dang steps it was from point A to B) to play referee and instead I saw them, in our family room, each standing on opposing brown leather couches facing one another. The ottoman was in the middle, and because the space was so small, the ottoman was nearly touching both couches at the same time.
“Ready, steady, GO!” shouted Morgan, and Jake launched himself into the air, bounced on the ottoman, grabbed it with his hands and smashed into Morgan’s couch.
“GO MORGIE” shouted Jake, having since rolled out of the way. She then launched herself onto the ottoman, bounced dramatically like a flailing flamingo, and landed upside down on the other couch, feet up in the air and banging off the window.
“What was that!” I yelled at them.
“We’re surfing!” said Jake with a smile as big as his whole head. “Yeah! We are on a team, and we have to get there and back before the shark gets us!” added Morgan.
“You’re breaking our furniture!” I exclaimed. “But the shark is going to get us!” whined Jake.
“There is NO shark. You’re going to knock the walls down before we’ve even moved in! And QUIT USING THAT HALF WALL AS A SEAT!” We have a wall between the office and the family room, with a giant cutout and a ledge on it. I don’t know why it’s there, except to allow you to stare at people doing something else in a different space. It’s just another wall that our entertainment center can’t go on!
And then, Arco leaped into the air, from behind the wall of the future office, and stuck his head and front paws on the ledge of that pony wall that joined the two spaces just above the couch that Jake now sprawled on. Playfully snapping his teeth in wild excitement, a mere foot from Jake, both kids screamed “THE SHARK!!!! And technically his mass of flying fur caused me to jump, because I had no idea it was him at first! The kids took off running upstairs, with the wildebeest playing ocean predator for the current game they were enthralled with.
“Between the kids and Arco, I give the house a month before it burns to the ground,” I told Military Man. “They are acting like nuts!”
I can’t believe we survived the camper, with the way the kids (and dogs) act. Actually Gunney has been sweet as usual, and he’s very useful in cleaning floors. But put the rest of them in the country and they just run and dig holes, and take up every inch of space. Put them in a camper and the space takes up every space within them. Then move them into a house and that space that built up inside them apparently blew up, because they are certainly acting out.
I got fed up the other day because I could hear a grouchy giggling box due to the fact that I’d taken to long to find it. I just wanted to kick it a little harder than I should… But I didn’t. And I never would. I just went to my own bathroom, locked the door, and ate chocolate from my secret desert stash, that I have no plans of sharing, because the house is so big they would never smell it and come nagging me for some. Except for Arco. If it’s food of any kind, he will sniff it out, but the door was closed so all he could do was wedge his little sausage toenails under it, in a gesture that said “put chocolate right here.” Instead I used my foot to shove his back out from under my door. I heard him actually huff at me before he flopped somewhere across the room.
My secret desert finished, I realized Jake fell asleep in a box again, and he had his standard awkward explanation for it. It was “Panny Bear and his Bar-Maid.” (a reference to Paddington Bear stowing away in a boat with his marmalade, but it comes out like a really bad title for an adult movie, that so far I’m glad he hasn’t talked about in public, because I don’t feel like explaining that one).
Continuing to set up our new life in Tucson, I have been thrilled to have a dishwasher once again, and use it all day every day. Even if just for a fork. That thing is going to be running! But last night I unloaded a dish with Morgan supervising (it’s one of her new chores), and I complained that the plates weren’t getting all of the lasagna off of them. To which she replied, “It’s a dishwasher mom, not God.”
Later, I was out talking on the phone with my dad when Morgan found me. She was frantic and said Jake needed help, that he was stuck in the bathroom. I could hear him screaming from upstairs and hung up on my dad. Heading toward the stairs I asked Morgan where in the bathroom he was stuck, and she said, “On the wall.”
On the wall…..
How in the hell does a kid get stuck ON THE WALL? Rounding the corner to the bathroom, I saw Jake, dangling from the towel rack, his little chicken wing wedged between the rack and the wall, one leg on the sink, the other flailing all about.
I freed him from his position, helped him calm down, nothing was cut, bruised, broken or bleeding, and asked him what in the world he was doing.
“Tricks mom,” he said. “Dad hasn’t put up the trampoline yet, so I was playing bounce from the toilet to there.”
“And you got stuck on the wall…” I replied.
“I know,” he nodded in agreement. “Isn’t that some bullshit?”
Sometimes, you just have to walk away.This entry was posted in Uncategorized by Rebecca with 5 comments