It’s a genetic thing. I remember my first visit to Hunter Gatherer’s parent’s house when we were dating and being totally overwhelmed with the ‘robust’ chat that was had round the dinner table … and there were only four of them. There were varying opinions on varying subjects which were loudly opined – advice given, taken or ignored – disagreements and agreements heartily made … and always lots of humour.
I was quieter than a mouse and thought I had gotten away with having to join in until HG’s dad said ‘Right Red … (he could never remember my name in those days) your turn to sing’. Robust chat ceased immediately and all eyes turned to me – at which time I turned a not so delicate shade of pink, my mind went blank, and my new family burst into friendly laughter. This Robust Chat could never have gotten confused with being labelled ‘Argument’ – difference of opinions were respected, disagreements laughed upon, no offence was meant nor ever taken.
And so, the genetic ‘robust chat’ gene has been passed on down from HG to his three sons. And never more does it show its true self in its entirety than when we are all together travelling in a van. Not only travelling in a van together … but with HG at the helm.
We were in Rotorua, for Son No.2’s graduation from Fire and Emergency NZ’s 3-month long training course and had a few hours free. We were eight in the van, all three sons and their gorgeous girlfriends with HG and myself, driving round a city we’ve visited just once before (to Son No.1’s very own graduation in 2018) and the gene was at the fore!
‘Dad ……. Red lights ahead – brake!’, ‘Dad ……. Why are you going this way?’, ‘Dad ……… turn left, no not here’, ‘Dad ……… what are we doing here’, ‘Dad … this is a one way – the other way’, ‘Dad ……… can I drive?’
At one stage HG was trying to find a pump to fill the van with diesel. He had driven into one of those gas stations you frustratingly but thankfully only occasionally find yourself in – ALL the pumps where busy and ALL the cars were facing the same way which just so happened to be the opposite way to which we had driven in.
This meant that he had to drive right round the lot of them to be facing that same way and be next in line for the free pump. Trouble was he found himself with the van diesel filler on the wrong side of the pump – and so he drove back up around the pumps trying to work out what would have ordinarily been an extremely easy equation (how to get the van parked with diesel cap next to the pump) before giving up and carrying on out the gate and back onto the main road. All the while I could hear chatter in the back between the six of them with the odd ‘where are we going…?’, ‘what are we doing?’ not asked, but more like ponderingly spoken out loud!
And that was just while driving. Deciding where and when to meet up to go to where at what time and then in what order to do it all in … was similarly ‘robustly debated’. In usual mother fashion and feeling like a musical conductor of a large symphony orchestra I tried to project manage these discussions, ever mindful of not upsetting anyone nor leaving anyone out, whilst trying to fit it all in! Lucky for me Son No.1’s GG was familiar with the area, her parents living less than an hour away. Lucky for us she took the reigns and brought order to the few hours we had free.
The visit to the lake front boardwalk to view the hot earth with it’s sulphurous bouquet was fascinating, and the walk through the Redwoods was stunning – never a more beautiful place I think I had ever seen!
Such a fab gene is the ‘Robust Chat’ gene – especially when humour, respect and love is attached. Also, best left unconducted by moi, and simply trusted instead!