Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Are We There Yet?


by Valerie Mann
Ah, the joys of traveling with young children. You plan, make lists, buy snacks, bring toys, calculate the routes with rest stops that have playgrounds, pray for good driving weather, even better vehicle health, and no delays. And like a really clumsy game of Jenga, one bad move and the jig is up.

I’m a planner. When I set my mind to it, I can plan to infinity and beyond. With five kids, three with ADHD and one with Aspergers, organization is my sanity. But the best laid plans of mice and Mom can’t factor in the unexpected during travel. For instance:

1.   Enroute to North Carolina from Illinois, 1996. Daughter number two is lying in the back seat with her head in Daughter number one’s lap. Awww. Sister bonds are enduring. Not for these two. The only time Daughter Two would ever have her head in any type of compromising angle near Daughter One is if a guillotine were nearby and One is the executioner. Before I could consider what it all meant, One pipes up, “Why does Shannon have so much sand in her hair?” I’ll give you a single guess what the “sand” was. Uh huh, head lice. And we were nine hours from destination with bloodsucking critters who I was instantly convinced were crawling all over me. OMG
2.   Remember that rest stop with the playground that the parents of active children covet? We stopped, made haste for the facilities and then Mommy got busy at the picnic table under the handy shelter, making a real June Cleaver lunch, complete with a freaking checkered tablecloth. Children are burning off steam, Mom’s getting all domestic and husband is walking the dog. Mom hears an ear-shattering scream, convincing her that an evil stranger is abducting her angels. Not even close. Son Two is standing in a ginormous mound of fire ants. He’s wearing sandals. He’s a little allergic to fire ants. OMG 
     3.   Enroute to Orlando from Illinois, 1999. We’ve got us a convoy, with two vans and a five-year old nephew with a bladder the size of a shot glass. Daddy is getting cranky because Mom has to keep calling him on his Walkie Talkie to pull over at the next exit. Mom reacts negatively to the crankiness, speeds past Dad in a fit of rage and gets pulled over by the Georgia State Patrol. Nephew wets his pants because the nice officer can’t write that ticket fast enough. Big fine cuts into vacation money. Dad is even crankier. But at least he didn’t have to deal with the urine scent in the Georgia summer heat.

I’d always figured when the kids got older, all of this nonsense would go away. Um, no. Tomorrow we’ll make a nine-hour pilgrimage up the East Coast with two teenage boys in the backseat. One is already threatening mutiny through toxic boredom and the other has decided he’s going to stay awake for the next twenty-four hours, then take cold medicine and sleep the entire trip.

Wait…*slaps forehead*…why didn’t I think of that? Sleep deprivation and a bottle of Nyquil could have made my life so much easier oh those many years ago. The kid’s a genius! See June Cleaver replaced by Peg Bundy.  Okay, so I won’t do the drug-induced coma thing. But the sleep deprivation route...this could work! 

20 comments:

Dakota Trace said...

OMG reminds me of my own family trips as I was growing up. Now that I have kids of my own, 3 of them...two with ADHD, I cringe at the idea of taking them more than a two hour drive. Great post. Thanks for the giggles and have a safe trip!

Faith said...

LOL!

Last vacation with the kids was several years ago. The youngest daughter was a baby then and she got the chicken pox, then two of the older three got it, too. And I stepped in a fire ant hill. Me, the one who's allergic to anything that bites. Both feet looked like pink basketballs. Yeah, fun times.

Margaret West said...

OMG my kids are way grown up now, but that post brought back some memories lol

James L. Hatch said...

When the kids go the grand kids arrive. Loved the "bladder the size of a shot glass" comment. It's funny, but it's true.

Fierce Dolan said...

Safe travels, of the 'don't strangle anyone' variety.

Faith said...

LMAO! That's hilarious!

Kate Richards said...

Reminds me of a trip with my not quite three year old nephew between LA and Phoenix where husband made the mistake of letting him pee by the side of the road. He liked it. A LOT. And we had to stop every five minutes after that so he could indulge in his hobby, because he insisted he 'had to go'.

Valerie Mann said...

I should post a follow-up blog about how every single trip we took with the kids ended in a mini-epidemic at the destination. Our extended family dreaded seeing us coming. We were known as the Plague and Pestilence branch of the family. And our damned dog always went into heat at the final destination. OMG

Janie Emaus said...

Too funny! Last year I took a roadtrip with my daughter and her three kids! Other than switching seats all the time while driving, it was relatively easy.

pj schnyder said...

Wow. Yup, I've had the fire ant adventure while travelling with my little sister - and mom across the globe back in the United States (we were in Thailand)

Thanks for the fun post!

Debbie Gould said...

When they were younger, traveling with my three kids wasn't bad at all. They saved it all for the teeenage years.
Now I'm only sharing this with you, Valerie, because I don't want the rest of the world to know what animals my kids are, but from there teen years on up(yes...even to this day) they would see who could fart the most and make the others gag.
There I said it. I won't mention the various stops at wal-marts along the way for purchases of new underware.

Jessica Subject said...

Oh, wow, those do not sound like fun vacays. The first we took with a kid (we only had one at the time), our 3yo puked all over the back seat. She was sick multiple times on the way to the destination, and we had to buy new clothes for her as we ran out of non-puke covered ones. The next trip was better though.

I hope your trip tomorrow goes much better! :)

Becca Dale said...

Ha ha - we used to call my daughter bitty bladder. No trip was complete without stops at a gas station every half hour or so. I used to carry toilet paper and wet wipes just in case she had to cop a squat in a cornfield somewhere. Wait...I still do that if she is with us. Poor kid had to go when the trailer broke in the middle of E. St. Louis and had to sit there while the cops wrote up a report. Poor baby had tears in her eyes.

Never head lice or fire ants though - thank goodness!

Liz said...

sorry but anyone who gets out a checkered table cloth deserves fire ants....maybe not on their KID....reminde me to regale with you the Fat Years when the spouse's company paid for "business class" travel for ex-pat families, and the looks on the faces of the flight attendants when I slogged an infant, a 4 year old and an 8 year old onto the plane, get pointed to the right and get to say "Oh, no, dear. WE are going THAT away..." good times...good times..

Jennifer Probst said...

Valerie, I laughed so hard, but it was not at you, it was with you! What an absolute nightmare. You are truly a saint! My older one gets car sick and pukes. Did that. The younger one likes to pee in the woods. Done that. And one got a bee sting on his butt when he sat back down in the van because the bugger slipped in while he was doing the peeing, and forget that trip! GREAT post.

Faith said...

When I got into the fire ants it was in the dark. The husband (now ex) parked next to a hill of 'em and I didn't know it. Stepped right in them. Had to eat Benadryl all night.

Valerie Mann said...

When our eldest daughter was little, she got terribly car sick, so we'd give her Dramamine and she'd always fall asleep. One day our babysitter called and told us that while she didn't care if my husband and I took drugs, she was going to report us to social services because we gave them to our daughter. I was stunned, to say the least. We didn't do illegal drugs and certainly wouldn't give them to our daughter. I asked what she was talking about and she said, "Well, your daughter said you give her drugs and make her sleep in the car!" It took me a minute and then I burst out laughing. Um...okay. We had to give our daughter a lesson in choosing her words more carefully!

Jaime Samms said...

Val, what I learned in taking the train (which only leaves the city where I live for more populated and interesting places at 2AM) is that night travel is soooo worth it! Now, even when we rent a car to travel south to the inlaws, we leave as close to midnight as we can manage. Hubs sleeps the day before, drives all night while kids sleep in the back seat, and we arrive with rested, happy kids and hubs just needs an afternoon siesta. Easy peasy, I swear.

RC Bonitz said...

Loved your post Val. My troubles were seldom with the kids (Except for are we there yet?) but one trip in the early 60's was THE ONE! My wife and I and Mother-in -law and sister-in-law and three little kids went NY to Minn. in a station wagon. Which meant the luggage went on top. MIL and SIL were "ladies"- tons of luggage each. Guess who had to pack it on the roof and take it down (every last piece) each night? Well, okay, only once a day right? Not bad-except MIL liked to leave late(10 am) and stop early (3pm, 2 if she could have had her way), which meant just a few extra days. And, oh yeah- she always needed something out of one of those overhead bags sometime during the day. The kids were a piece of cake by comparison. And I'm still married! RC Bonitz

Fiona McGier said...

Ah, brings back memories! Our 4 kids are now in their early 20s so we traveled before there were TVs in cars...which wouldn't have mattered since I never let them watch TV for hours at home, so I certainly wouldn't have let them annoy the ass off of me doing it in the car! "Your mother is an English teacher! If you're bored read a book!"

Our oldest son, newly potty-trained, was asked repeatedly as we approached a rest stop if he had to "go". His answer was always "no". But the minute we were passed it, along with the sign, "Next rest area 37 miles", he began to scream, "Have to poop NOW!" I drove as fast as I could, watching for cops, then when I pulled into the rest stop parking lot, husband jumped out, pulled him out of his carseat, and ran carrying him, into the bathroom. Ah, the good old days! (chuckle)