Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Easy Rider

"How much longer?"

"Are we almost there?"

"This is taking for-ehhhhh-ver!"

I swear, if I heard one more complaint about how long the drive to Florida was taking, I was seriously going to choke somebody.

Except, the only one to choke was me.

From me, my six-year-old got his bright blue eyes and his ability to work a room. But thank God (or St. Christopher), it was from his father that he got his traveling genes. His father, who thinks it would be "fun" to get in the car and head west, just drive and drive and drive, until we reach the other side. Or I jump out and let him run me over, whichever comes first. The two of them were happy as clams each of the excruciatingly long hours we were trapped in our Subaru, completely oblivious to our state of painful captivity, our inescapable, interminable inability to move. Nary a peep from either of them. But I suffered each mile, not wasting precious mental energy keeping my misery to myself. As we rolled past a string of correctional facilities, I envied the inmates their freedom to stand up and stretch. Lucky bastards.

I've always been like this, counting down the mile markers, anxious to be there, wherever there may be. All that clichéd garbage about life being a journey? Bullshit. Just get me to my destination already.

But not my kid. He was amazing. Miraculous, really. Almost twelve hours strapped into his booster and the closest thing to a complaint I heard out of him was, "Do you mind pulling over a minute so I can poo?"

Even though my DNA had nothing to do with his incorrigible happiness, I'm still taking partial credit because I was the one who packed his "Little Bag of Tricks." While I have no idea how to keep myself from becoming suicidal on the road, here are a few ideas if you're traveling with kids.

Little Bag of Tricks (contents may vary)

  • several quiet activities, like magnet board games
  • a variety of art supplies, including markers, crayons, rubber stamps and ink pad, notepad, and even a dreaded coloring book (you can worry about fostering creativity later)
  • quart sized Ziploc bags filled with Matchbox cars, animals, guys
  • electronics — we went with his Leapster, a portable DVD player and an iPod*
  • movies on DVD, books on CD
  • a lapdesk
  • plenty of road-ready snacks, like trail mix and pistachios

The original plan was for me to be master of the bag and only toss back activities as needed, but then I remembered that I have feet and would need a place to stow them. So the bag ended up in his control, and other than a little more mess than I had envisioned, he did great managing on his own. In fact, next year we might let him sit up front and be the grown up while I curl up in a fetal position in the backseat and whine.

Don't think I can't see where all this is leading — his love of the open road, his eagerness to go anywhere and welcome whatever adventure comes next. But I'm not going to worry about it yet. I'll probably be long gone before it comes to this . . .

Especially if we take that road trip out west.

* That part about me getting credit for packing the bag of tricks? Truth be told, our wonderful, generous, genius friend Melanie gets all the credit. The iPod, which entertained him for about ten out of the twelve hours, was her contribution, complete with its Beyoncé and Lady Gaga packed playlist. It kept our boy rocking down the highway. Maybe I should have been listening in with him, instead of finding every boring NPR station in five states.

Thanks, Melanie!

1 comment:

Hannah said...

They somehow always find that NPR station everywhere we go...