I recently wrote about preparing for a family vacation that would consist of strapping our two small boys, ages 3 1/2 and 1 year, into the confines of plush plastic safety and hurling them at 85 miles an hour through the space that is Interstate 10 between Los Angeles and Tucson. Mission complete.
Yes, I realize that I led you to believe that the actual trip was a few weeks off, but to be honest I didn’t want any of you taking advantage of my being gone and stealing my shit. I figure if you read DadCentric you’re liable to do anything. Sorry, I have trust issues.
So we loaded up the truckster and threw caution to the wind. Actually, we threw common sense to the wind and left at the peak of afternoon traffic, non-rush hour (really, who named it that?), and were able to enjoy the immediate surroundings of our home base for an extended period of time. We had to pull over for Thing 1 to pee twice before we hit San Bernadino.
We purchased a portable DVD player for the car with two screens and packed a bag full of movies, although it turns out that I apparently only needed to bring two films. No, not because they were long enough to fill that span of time, but because my kid likes what he likes and he likes the two damn movies. Again and again. Whatever. He seldom sits still long enough to watch a movie at home so I didn’t feel too bad about letting him stare into his own private screen for hours on end.
I didn’t feel bad at all. If anything I was thankful. We were able to listen to some music and have some conversation that was seldom interrupted for anything but the request for a pee break. Even that trickled to nothing once we cut off the fluid intake (just kidding CPS!).
Then there was Thing 2. Oh sure, he’s cute as a freaking button, but that booger would just as soon cut you as look at you. He knows when he’s being set-up and he’ll have no part of it. Granted, he was fairly quiet for most of the ride to Tucson, aside from the last hour when we were tired as hell and he was more so. That part of the trip SUCKED.
The ride home played out about the same, but with a few more stops and the subsequent resettling (i.e., crying) that comes with the constant loading and unloading of a baby that has had enough.
Overall the trip was much smoother than I had hoped it could ever be, and that is why I am posting this account. Between comments on here and my personal blog, as well as a few emails, it appeared that I was not alone in my concern over our decision to travel via automobile.
I’ll tell you, it wasn’t any harder with two than it was with one, which is weird because usually when you hear someone say that the second child is easier in any given situation they are lying through their damn liar’s teeth.
I hate to preach the DVD thing again, especially since we (which of course means my wife) doesn’t want the boys watching a bunch of tv. She also doesn’t want them spending time in the backseat on something so drab, but would rather they stare out the window playing license plate tag or counting train cars. Basically, she wants them to be as miserable on long road trips as we were when our parents dragged us along the highway.
That said, get a DVD player if you are going to be in the car for a consecutive period of time exceeding 5 hours, maybe shorter, and when you speak of me speak well.
We also tried two other things, both of which worked to varying degrees. First, on the way there we traveled by night, which makes for an easy transition into bed for the kids as well as a fresh start on the next morning. This works best if you are able to stay with someone (grandparents) that doesn’t mind getting up with the well-rested children at 7a.m. while you catch up on a bit of sleep.
On the way home we traveled by day, but we stopped often and for longer periods of time. This lets the kids burn some energy while the parents grab a few beers (or coffee like we did).
Neither way was 100%, but both worked well enough, so take from that what you will. Still, it was worth it, meaning it had a good beat and I could dance to it. I’d give it an eighty.