This weekend, I had the pleasure of participating in one of the most harrowing experiences a parent can endure.
It takes speed, balance, patience and time. One must prepare and plan, as this event is not to be entered into lightly, or without an inordinate amount of gear.
Of course, I’m talking about the road trip.
On Sunday, Andy and I took the kids up to his parents’ lake house in New Hampshire, which is both relaxing and beautiful. When we’re there, the kids play with their grandparents and cousins, go swimming, take boat rides, catch fish and stay up late. It is something that we all look forward to and is pretty close to a perfect getaway…
If only it weren’t a two hour drive.
Please understand: I seem to have birthed the only three children in the history of the planet who detest the car. From the time they were babies, they hated being strapped down and thrashed and screamed in their car seats.
When they were tiny, they would eventually fall asleep (as most babies do) but from the age of about six months – four years, they complained, cried, hollered and incessantly demanded to know how much longer it would take until we reached our destination. Beginning as soon as the door was shut.
As they got older and technology advanced (I’d like to submit Steve Jobs’ name for sainthood), they eventually would hold a laptop or iPad and watch a movie, which would occupy them for a while. Ben and Georgia fit into this category now but there is a certain two-year old who will only be quieted by a movie for about five minutes until…
“OOH, Mommy a truck. Where that truck? Where the lake house? Can I have a lollipop? I want some milk. Where my truck? I drop my truck! Can you pick up my truck? Can I have a lollipop? I WANT A LOLLIPOP!!!”
This weekend, we took separate cars so that I could come back for work on Monday and I therefore had the privilege of riding up with Georgia and Quinn. As every mother does, I find myself quoting my parents and explaining to them (through gritted teeth) that when I was a child, we didn’t have movies but rather played the state game and “I Spy” and read books.
There were five of us driving to Florida in a Volkswagen (true story) rather than just three of us in a big SUV. We may have had a pack of gum to split rather than half of the CVS candy counter in a bag in the front seat. There were no juice boxes, little bags of chips or video games. And we loved every second of it.
Ha! Of course we didn’t; we hated car rides as much as the next kid and I’m sure that my parents wanted to drop us off at the side of the road just as I threatened my own children that I would do if they didn’t stop fighting. And while I remember hour-long games of “20 Questions,” I’m sure that they lasted two rounds before we started wrestling with each other and eventually got in trouble. Can you say “Circle of Life?”
I suppose that some day I’ll look back on these little trips with a smile, as it was time spent with my family. But until then, I’ll take deep breaths, practice my around-the-drivers-seat-truck-on-the-floor-grab and hope for a traffic-free, speedy trip. And perhaps a cocktail waiting for me when I get there.