Road Trip!

Pack their bags.  Pack your bags. Charge the DVD players. Buy some new, never been seen DVD’s. Go to Costco. Buy some granola bars. In bulk.  Locate the DS players. Make children sign a contract that says they will share all DS games and DVD’s. Wake up early. Hustle. Load em up! Sound familiar? If not, it’s a road trip. A family road trip where provisions must be made for hunger, boredom, and cranky passengers.

Early in the morning on the day you start out, as the sun’s first rays shine through your bedroom window, you feel hopeful. This is what the family needs: some good old fashioned together time. You are so clever to have bought that mini van for occasions such as this. And clever again to have found a hotel room cheap enough to allow you to reserve two rooms so that you and your husband don’t have to call lights out at 8 PM.  Isn’t a seven hour drive worth a lifetime of memories?

The answer: not if the seven hour drive turns into a twelve hour drive.  You watch, dismayed as Tom-Tom keeps changing your arrival time, but simultaneously assures you that you are still on the fastest route. How, dear Tom-Tom how is that possible when you are in a parking lot on Interstate 95? You panic as the time, and nothing else, passes you by. You know that with each passing moment the DVD’s are not so new, the snack supply is diminishing and the DS players have long ago gone Ker plunk on the floor. As soon as the distracted passengers realize this, they will no longer be distracted, instead they will be ornery. Which at home where you can walk away even momentarily is not fun, but in a traveling prison, there is no escape, and being buckled in only makes the inmates more hostile.

But at last you arrive and there is momentary excitement at the prospect of staying in a hotel (for them, not you—you simply see a bed spread that is frayed and not enough pillows on which to sleep soundly. Then you remind yourself that’s what $60 buys you. After repeated calls to the front desk begging them to bring the cot that will stop the war of wills underway in the children’s room, you almost give in and agree to share a bed with the smallest person. But just in time the cot arrives with apologies from maintenance. Now, the business of getting the kids settled down begins. No one wants the cot; somehow even the three year old knows this is not prestigious real estate. However, his tiny voice eventually trails off, and there is quiet. Silence, in fact. You can finally sleep. Nothing like a twelve hour road trip sitting on your ass, back seat driving, to utterly exhaust you. Deep and blissful sleep ensues until…

Until way too early the next morning when the little one, unaccustomed to sleeping on a cot, still pissed he lost the battle of the comfy beds, but thrilled to have his siblings in the same room wakes up. If he is up, his brother is up. “Wake up Jonah!”Get out of Bed.” And if Jonah is up, Julia is soon to be up, and furious that her brothers have woken her. So into your bed she climbs, and you climb out, stumble into the adjoining room grasping for the remote, so the boys will give you another hour of blessed rest. But it is morning, and you are on a family trip! You should savor each minute and start snapping the photos.

Now, when your children are 3, 6, and 9 there is very little you can do to accommodate all interests. So certain trips are geared toward a particular audience, and this one was geared toward the nine year old. But before the road trip you idealize—all three will enjoy stepping back in history to colonial times.  But the little guy doesn’t like to be in Colonial Williamsburg where people in funny costumes try to talk and he is told to be quiet so fellow travelers can listen to tales about the founding fathers. And for some reason the six year old is not embracing the sights and sounds of colonial America the way you had anticipated. He is, however, embracing his inner demon, and therefore sees fit to whine, complain and insist on sitting in the stroller, which leaves the only transportation for the baby the arms of your husband. Your husband, who at this point turns on his heels, slings the now screaming toddler over his shoulders and says he is leaving. Leaving? Does that mean back to the hotel? Back to New York? You are instructed to follow. You don’t. The only thing worse than two crabby kids is two crabby kids and an ornery husband. You pat your wallet to make sure your credit card is still there. Amtrak takes credit cards, right?

Eventually the ornery spouse and screaming baby return and the children are threatened appropriately. In an act of true desperation, you explain to the six year old that while his behavior has prohibited him from choosing a souvenir that day, if he could see fit to behave from this point forth he could earn his souvenir tomorrow. And yes, he could get the wooden pistol he saw. Did you really just say that? You swore you would never get your son a toy gun, but desperate times call for desperate measures and should he see any Red Coats or Loyalists pass by he can defend the family.

And so the six year old pulls himself together and gets his gun. The baby gets his fife and marches down Duke of Glouster Street playing a little diddee he composed. Everyone is happy, finally, and in the spirit of the trip! But it is time to leave. The highway beckons. The traffic couldn’t be so bad again, right? Wrong! Another seven hour trip turns to twelve. The baby watches Strawberry Shortcake for the fiftieth time. (You wonder why you bought all the new DVD’s—he clearly only needed one) At long last, you pull into your driveway. The boys are fast asleep. Your daughter pipes up from the back seat “Turn the car around! I want to go back to Williamsburg!”

We will go back, kid. Brother-less, and Daddy-less, but we will go back.  On Amtrak. They take credit cards, right?

Published in: on April 17, 2010 at 12:57 pm  Leave a Comment