It's that time of year again. The time where the boys and I make the trek home to visit Grammie and Papa. I actually love to travel....by myself. Having to travel with two little boys is a whole different story.
Due to the economy and lay-offs, my husband decided to start his own business. It started slowly, but things are picking up so, bless his heart, he's been working seven days a week or else he'd come with me.
But I'm used to it, and I have a system. Everything has a designated place in the car. Toys and distraction devices (portable DVD player, coloring books, etc.) go on the floor in the back with the boys. It provides easy access for them, and brief moments of quiet for me. Extra pillows and/or blankets go between the boys' car seats. This serves two purposes. If they fall asleep, it catches their floppy, rag-doll heads, instead of having them bob at the nearly 90º angle that would leave me reaching for the Tylenol for a week. It also acts as a buffer zone so they are unable to touch each other. Thus avoiding the, "He's on my side!", shouting match.
All food and beverage items are in the front passenger seat, solely under my control. Beverages must have a resealable cap. Food items that travel must be carefully selected. No chocolate, it melts. Even M-n-M's are forbidden. No taffy or gum. My windows, car door handles and any toy they touch will be sticky and they will somehow manage to transfer said stickiness to me. I tried bananas once, that was a disaster. I once had a chunk of candy cane stuck to my cup holder well into the month of July until I took a screwdriver and chipped it off, piece by piece. So that leaves us with beef sticks, fruit snacks and crackers. Yes, I end up with crumbs in every nook and cranny, but at least I can suck those up with a high-powered vacuum.
Also in the passenger seat, I have an extra plastic grocery bag for garbage or for the rare occurrence of car sickness. A big tub of wet wipes is a standard feature in my car, but in the winter, I have to remember to put it on the dash heater since they're useless frozen. My purse goes on the floor and cell phone in the cubby under the radio where I can easily grab it when my mother sends me a text, (always a half-hour out, and always asking where we're at).
It's hard to keep boys entertained for 5 1/2 hours. There's only so many times I can say, "Look, cows!" It loses its excitement after the first three times. There's nothing along this flat, prairie drive, except maybe a nano-second to glimpse a buffalo while going 75 mph through Jamestown. If we're unlucky, we'll see a deer in the ditch and then I'm tense the entire drive.
I have short legs. I'm so close to the steering wheel that if I were to crash the airbag will do nothing for my knees which are a 1/2-inch from the dash. If my kids need any provisions from the front seat, I set the cruise, if it isn't already, and then use the electric seat adjuster to move the seat back, hand whatever the kids need to them, (is it possible to teach yourself to become double-jointed?), and then "rrrrrrrr," move my seat back up.
There has never been a trip where I haven't had to stop at least once. Mainly because it takes more than one tank of gas to get there. Except once, but I had an awesome tailwind. We always have a potty stop, and if I have fortune on my side, it'll wait until the convenience store. I'm pretty sure it's some sort of crime to leave a child unattended in a car, even for a moment, so we all go. You must know, the moment my boys got in the car, the shoes were off, the coats were off, and I'm doing well if the socks are still on. Just getting them from car to restroom is a race. Shoes on, coat on, times two, while one or the other is saying, "I gotta go baaaad!" In the restroom, we all pile into the handicap stall since it's the only one large enough to hold all three. Lord help us if Kaiden has to go #2! Kamrin does not understand what privacy is. His idea of privacy at home is to close the door of the bathroom for me, but he remains on the same side as I am. It's not uncommon for him to try to say, "Hi!" to the people in the next stall from underneath our stall. I usually wait until they leave so no one can identify us.
If we don't make it to the truck-stop, oh boy. There have been times where we don't even have time to hit an exit. I have to find the safest place, given the conditions, crawl out the passenger door, open both passenger doors to create a wind barrier and provide some discretion. I then instruct whichever boy to unbuckle his seat belt while I lick my finger and check for wind direction and survey the slope of the land. Since I want them within the safety of the car for as long as possible, we undo the pants in the car and when we're ready, I lift them out, put their feet on mine (in case of run-off or mud) and hopefully we're good to go.
Once we leave the interstate and are on the two lane highway, our biggest source of excitement is guessing which animal is compacted in the bed of the semi in front of us. We'll maybe catch a hint of a snout, a batch of fur or a bunch of feathers. This always makes me a bit sad, but makes my situation look like a luxury cruise.
I hate passing on a two-lane. I try to do it as quickly and painlessly as possible, while the boys lift their arms above their heads and shout, "WHEEEEE!' like they're on a roller coaster.
We finally arrive and the boys have their seat belts undone and doors open almost before I've come to a complete stop in the driveway. I get out, shake my cramped hands and try to walk some sensation back into my numb backside.
The trip there is always worth it and after all the fun and excitement is over, we must head back. 90% of the time, the boys fall asleep ten minutes outside of Pierre and I'll actually turn the radio on and search for a station. I sigh sadly as it loops over and over finding nothing. Oh well. Hey, look! There's a...oh never mind.