Camping means we learn a lot about other people’s lives

PUBLISHED: 07:58 04 August 2017

Jo's family at the Norfolk coast. Picture: Jo Malone

Jo's family at the Norfolk coast. Picture: Jo Malone


Other people’s parenting

It’s 4.30am and this morning it’s not the seagulls landing on the roof that have woken me up. It’s not even the pigeons insisting the nearest tree is the only one they like.

We’re camping near the coast and the family opposite either doesn’t realize that a thin fabric wall doesn’t stop noise travelling, or it doesn’t care.

We learned the names of their children early the previous morning with an hour or so of: “Reece, get off Tyler. Tyler, leave that alone. Erin sit down, Tyler, shut up,” and so on. (Names have been changed to protect the innocent!)

Camping is tiring, cramped and children rarely realise that everything, from getting breakfast to leaving for the play area, seems to take most of us eight times longer than at home. But the grinding down of those children was uncomfortable to hear.

I’m still wondering if I should have done something, and if so, what, about the sad 4.30am exchange which woke me.

It was loud crying from their tent and a little voice saying: “I’m wet, I’ve wet the bed mum, I’m really wet,” followed by more crying.

A wet bed in the middle of the night in a tent, exhausting.

But his mother’s: “Shut up, I don’t care. I don’t want to know. Go to sleep,” was not the response I expected.

There was more crying as the mother told him, with a lot of swearing, that she very definitely didn’t care.

He cried for ages. I lay in bed worrying.

In the swimming pool the next day we met a very patient, smiley mum full of praise for her eight-year-old who was determinedly trying to swim with a huge amount of splashing. That mum had so much pride and love she inspired me to improve my ‘get on with it, Thalia,’ when trying to convince her to let go of the side.

We learned that this incredible mother adopted the child a couple of months ago. She also has two teenage children with severe disabilities, who both use wheelchairs. We saw her several times, full of energy, joy for life and positivity with her children.

How can parents be so different?

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