Sharon S. the “Southern Yankee” is a Hampton Roads mom of two, and has lived in Virginia for eight years.
School is in full swing and technically “vacation” time should be over. With this last month though, I’m convinced September may be the best time to travel. Minimal crowds and cooler weather are right up my alley, and now mini-vacations may be as well.
Living states away from immediate family, we’ve driven a lot of miles back and forth in our years here. I’m not sure crying children and scared pets in carriers were what Kerouac had in mind when he wrote On the Road, but oh well. We can’t all be free-wheeling beatniks though I wouldn’t mind sometimes. The first road trip we embarked upon last month was one I’d done before – just me and the kids due to the husband’s work schedule. Has anyone else braved those miles alone? We are kindred spirits and I feel your pain.
A not so bad seven hour drive while being a passenger can turn in to a nightmare when you are in the driver’s seat. There’s no other grownup to speak too. You are mainlining coffee and tossing French fries into the back seat to keep the kids quiet. In the early days, our oldest daughter kept herself occupied with various toys and many naps. She’d been on these trips practically since birth and we really lucked out with her behavior wise on these rides. With time and a second child, the trips happened less often, and our youngest daughter is a little more…vocal, shall we say?
You will see lots of recommendations on how to keep small children occupied during road trips. My favorite is the DVD player. Some may call it lazy parenting and I’m perfectly OK with that, whatever keeps the kids entertained and my eyes on the asphalt. Any fantasies I have before or after said road trip about stopping at the cute mom & pops, antique stores or non-chain restaurants fall by the way side once I get behind that drivers wheel – it’s a two stop at most trip because I need to get there, now.
We arrive at our destination, and I’m asked; “How was the drive”? Oh fine, no traffic, not so bad, the view on the Chesapeake is always great and driving in the tunnel is fun (as long as I don’t think about The Stand). Meanwhile in reality land I was wondering if we can stay overnight at a motel because driving any more is simply not happening. It’s not in the cards. I will almost cry and my back hurts. The kids are getting whiny. Then I think, only two more hours to go and we’ll be there. Worse things could be happening; deal with it you big baby! Yes, these are pep talks (not verbatim) I give to myself.
And then we do it all over again in a few days, and when driving I daydream about that fantasy road trip, where I stop wherever I please, buying up fun knick knacks and taking photos of the kids at roadside attractions. And then, a French fry hits me in the head.
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