On the most recent road trip, I complained to my husband that travel with children would be easier if they were tranquilized. While these journeys are better now than they have been in the past, they still offer challenges.
Being a smart mother, I pack each child an activity bag. The kids delight in drawing pads, stickers, cool twisty crayons, and some kind of toy, but eventually all charm wears off and the miscellaneous items become strewn about the backseat. New urgent needs become voiced-- I’m thirsty, I have to potty, she won’t share… to name a few. The hardest part of the journey, though, is dealing with Tiny Man’s hunger.
“Mom? Mom. Mom! I’m hunnngry,” says Tiny.
“I have chicken sandwiches. Would you like one?”
“No, I would wike chips.”
“You can’t have chips until you eat your sandwich.”
“I don’ wike chicken!” asserts my son.
“Well, I guess you’ll starve then.”
“Mom. I want chips.”
“No. We have sandwiches.”
“I don’ wike chicken. I want chips.”
“You cannot have chips until you eat a sandwich.”
“You can starve.”
“Otay. I would wike a chicken sandwich.”
The entire journey is filled with conversations like this. Here's another:
“Mom? Mom. Mom! I’d like a Sprite.”
“You can’t have Sprite. Too much sugar. You can have water.”
“I don’ wike water.”
“That’s too bad, then. I suppose you’ll die of thirst.”
“Okkkaayyy. Can I have some water?”
If the children aren’t making requests, the grown ups are, but ours are of a different variety.
“Please stop kicking the back of my seat.”
“Please share with your brother.”
“Please quit policing your brother.”
“Please quit poking your sister.”
“Don’t play with that.”
“Please quit hogging the entire seat.”
“Where is your activity bag? Why don’t you draw a picture?”
To add to all this nagging and chaos, are the needs of my husband. He has asked that my son not make pow-pow gun noises which can be distracting. (Note to self: duct tape son’s mouth.) But, this past week he gave me the crowning glory of all requests; he asked me to invent a snack for the children that will not drip, crumb, or otherwise soil the backseat. I ignored that considering our obvious alternative is simply to tie or tape the children to the roof of the car for the duration of these travels.
Perhaps the monthly road trip is some kind of twisted bonding experience that we can all laugh about later, but these days it is a massive test in patience. I used to have a DVD player in the car, which helped entertain the young folk and distract them from hunger (road trip hunger is often really boredom in disguise). It broke though, and the only way to get one safely mounted anywhere in the kind of vehicles we have is with generous amounts of duct tape. If my husband doesn’t want crumbs on his cloth seats, he sure isn’t going to want tape residue on his center console or seat backs. Of course duct tape residue on the console is a far pleasurable alternative to the DFACS call I would get for duct taping the children to the car roof. With the next road trip three weeks away, looks like I might have to reconsider.