There are few activities in this world that will force you to confront your “adult” status more acutely than planning for and embarking upon a road trip with your kids. I’ve heard it said that road trips are a rite of passage for children, but I’d argue that they are, above all, a major rite of passage for parents. The whole process is undeniably laden with the heavy burden of grown-up responsibility. From planning the route to packing the bags to preparing the snacks and then having to be the constant bearer of bad news that “no, we are not there yet,” nothing about the experience is particularly enjoyable. At least that’s my take on it.
We recently declared this year the “year of the road trip” in my family, and although we only have two under our belt (so far), I am going to go ahead and declare myself an expert on the subject. Not an expert in the sense that I have achieved mastery of the process but, rather, in understanding the true essence of what it means to embark upon a multi-hour journey in very close quarters with two very wiggly children under the very young age of five. If nothing else, what I’ve gained from the experience is a fervent desire to turn back the hands of time to the days when my parents were planning and embarking upon road trips with me and my SIX younger siblings and apologize profusely for my selfish and ignorant behavior.
Road trips with littles are no joke, y’all, and if you’ve taken one recently, I’m betting you can relate to at least a few of the thoughts I had last week while trying desperately to achieve mental zen on our most recent fantastic voyage:
1. And we’re off! This is going to be great! Oh, the sights we’ll see along the way, the lifelong memories we’ll create. Let the adventure begin!
2. Whoever invented the daily screen time guidelines for kids clearly never had to spend a few days in the car (or anywhere for that matter) with these two.
3. If I stare at the ground as I rush by, maybe the workers at McDonald’s will assume I’m a true paying customer of their establishment instead of a harried mom who just spends her life ushering kids in and out and back into public restrooms.
4. Why do I care so much what the workers at McDonald’s think about me?
5. What did people do with their kids on road trips before portable electronic devices were invented?
6. Oh yeah, we played road trip bingo on heavy cardboard squares with little translucent red doors you could slide over.
7. My parents were saints. S-A-I-N-T-S.
8. How many bags of candy do I need to buy at our next stop if I plan to continue bribing each one of them with one M&M every five minutes for the duration of our nine-hour trip?
9. Holy moly, my teachers were right: There really is an application for math outside of middle school homework!
10. I just want to have a few minutes to myself with no one asking me questions or hurling demands my way. Does this mean I wouldn’t find eternal bliss in a tiny house after all?
11. Why, Buc-ee’s? Why must you torture us by placing the world’s largest and best bathrooms right alongside the world’s most enticing wall of slushees and sour candy worms. Why?
12. I wonder what would happen if I let my kids lie in a comfy pile of blankets and pillows in the “very backness” like I used to do when I was a kid. Surely the inability to do this is what’s slowly destroying the next generation of Americans.
13. There was a time when road tripping was all about singing out loud to awesome music and having deep conversations about life, love, and the pursuit of happiness. Now I’m driving for hours singing along to “The Wheels on the Bus” while questioning when exactly it was that the wheels came OFF the bus. Because there’s no denying they did. How did I go so wrong?
14. God bless the inventors of the training potty. And God bless my friend who suggested we pack it in the car “just in case.”
15. God help whoever parks in the spot next to the grass where we just unloaded it.
16. How many different ways can I be expected to explain the concept of an hour? This is getting out of hand.
17. I should probably remind my husband that the windshield wipers are still on auto-sensor mode before he gets to work cleaning the windshield. On second thought, I really didn’t appreciate or need that 102nd snarky comment about my inability to pack lightly. Let ‘er rip, boys!!
18. The $25 I spent on this kid’s headphones was the most sound (pun intended!) investment I’ve ever made in my entire life.
19. OK, God, is this my punishment for not actually making any of those busy boxes I saw on Pinterest? If so, I hear ya loud and clear. I hereby vow to become more Pinterest-y.
20. Are we there yet?
21. How in the hell did the settlers travel cross country in the blazing sun with no AC and 10 kids under the age of 15 in a horse-drawn carriage?
22. I never would have made it as a settler. I’m pretty sure I would have enthusiastically hurled myself to the first pack of wolves I came across during my initial 24 hours of traveling.
23. I sincerely hope my daughter remembers the urgency with which she insisted on watching all of these princess surprise egg videos on YouTube when she questions why she doesn’t have an inheritance one day. Data overage charges are no joke.
24. Well, I guess what they say is true: It really isn’t a road trip until somebody pukes.
25. Whose idea was this anyway????