How to Survive a 9 Hour Car Trip With Children

Do you know what I used to hate?  Cars with DVD players in them.  I thought, what terrible parents would let their kids watch TV and/or movies on car trips, thus melting their brains and making them boring and stupid?  What a loss to culture and society if the next generation of children does not know about the license plate game.  And what about singing car songs?  Will they never know how many bottle of beer are on the wall?  No, road trips are made for family bonding, not for vegging out.

Then I went and had actual children.  Let me tell you, I don’t know how our parents did it.  I would have killed my siblings and me if I were my parents.  All the poking and griping and whining and bickering must have driven them as crazy as it drives me.  And do you know what solves this problem?  DVD players!  So we bought some portable ones (they are cool; they strap to the back of
our headrests!) and now have happy children and happy adults for long periods of car trippy time.

Yesterday we embarked upon yet another such car trip, driving from Vermont to Baltimore in about nine hours.  That includes the multiple stops for lunch and potty breaks, so I think we did well.  They could easily have watched five or six movies in that time.  But even though I have given in to what I once thought was bad, I am still not ready to give up the traditional hell that children ought to be put through in order to build character.  For the first ninety minutes of the trip we told them no movies.  Instead we played *gasp* car games.

First we played the alphabet game.  For those of you not familiar with this game, you must first find, on a sign or license plate or anything outside of the car, a word that begins with the letter “A.”  Perhaps you see an Alabama license plate, or a sign for the Port Authority, but however you find it, you must then find a word staring with “B,” and then continue all the way down to “Z.”  We thought, since Ruby is learning to read, that this would be a fun game for her, and it was, all the way up until it wasn’t.  Somewhere around “G” she decided to play her own variant on the game, which was that you had to find something that started with all the letters, like air, a bus, a car, some dirt, etc.  This was also fun and we played both games concurrently for quite some time.

This did not stop Ruby from complaining that she was bored every five minutes or so, but at least it kept her parents entertained.  We also looked for animals (totally boring), pointed out cool looking cars (lame!), and sang fun songs (kill me now).  In short, we provided a classic road trip experience for our children.  And once we got on 87 South we turned on “My Neighbor Totoro” and everyone was happy.

Actually, everyone was not happy.  Let me tell you about the problem with these DVD players.  They are fine for the children, and yes they stop a lot of the problems on the trip, but for as long as the movie was on in the backseat, I could not listen to music.  I could not hum or whistle or talk, lest I be shushed by my kids who were trying to be entertained.  I had to just sit there and drive.  It was totally boring!  The only solution I can think of is to get a self-driving car, so that I can watch a movie too, or at least put some headphones on and rock out to music from the 90’s that my kids will make fun of me for for liking some day.  Do they make self-driving cars?  I think they do in Europe, except they call them trains.  I wish we had more of those around here.  Although it would make the license plate game a lot harder.

Posted in Bad Parenting, Car, Games, Parenting.

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