Editor’s note: Jenny’s been busy driving her kids to and from and taking potty breaks, so here’s a blast from the past. This column first was published in August 2011.
Ah, the family road trip. I’ll admit that they’re much easier as The Boy and The Girl get older. The list of things to pack shrinks as we have outgrown diapers, bottles and sippy cups. There are some must-haves, but they change from trip to trip.
This time, The Girl had to bring a certain babydoll with us because she couldn’t be left home alone. Because no one would cook her dinner. She has a backpack stuffed with animals who must come with us. She unsuccessfully tried to bring a blonde wig, her Barbie bed and a big golf umbrella.
Per usual, the second we crank the car, someone asks how long it’s going to take. The Man and I reply with a solid, unified “AWHILE.” This doesn’t stop the incessant asking and counting down. The Boy enjoys announcing the time throughout the trip. He’s even sweet enough to read the clock once per minute. Jealous?
There’s the inevitable whining, too. It makes my ears hurt just to think about it. My friend Liz and I turn the tables on the kids. We start talking in the same whiny tone. Not a word comes out of our mouths that isn’t saturated with whine. After about 10.6 seconds, both kids are yelling, telling us how annoying we are. So we keep it up. They angrily request that we stop. Mission accomplished.
The Girl, being 5 years old, is especially impatient in the car. She asks in such a sweet way, but anything that repeats itself that much loses its luster. I finally taught her that if she goes to sleep, when she wakes up we will be there. So far, we’ve had great success. I haven’t tried it on any trips longer than three hours, though.
Growing up, we played games in the car. This was pre-DVD players. You know, when the middle seat of the van was removed so you could set up a pallet on the floor. Punch Buggy and the Alphabet Game were top choices. Last week, we played the watermelon game. The highway between Augusta and most South Carolina beaches is home to a town that boasts a Watermelon Festival. Most homes and businesses hang painted watermelons on everything. Counting them makes for a fun game. We played for about 30 minutes. I declared game over when I had the highest total. Fun game!
The Man always drives. I actually love driving, but I want my passenger to stay awake and keep me company. The Man loves to sleep in the car. Therefore, he drives. Using a GPS has all but eliminated any arguments about asking for directions. Now we are a unified front against Delores, the angry GPS narrator. I put the GPS in the Marriage Savers file, along with DVR and double sinks.
He is a great driver, but I have the world’s most ineffective air brake. I’m sure The Man would openly admit that when I brake, grab the door handle and suck air through my teeth, he wants to toss me out the window. He doesn’t talk to other cars. I have full conversations with the idiots who drive in the left lane, cut us off or brake too much. If they get mad at me, I smile and wave. Nothing makes road rage flair up like a smiling, waving enemy. They get more and more angry and look like an ass. I love it.
I hope you consider these examples as tips for improving and enhancing your next adventure. Road trips don’t have to be frustrating. There are games to be played, minutes to count and whining to combat.
Just be sure to use the potty before leaving the house. Don’t make me pull this car over.