A Peaceful Car Trip? Better Not Take Your Kids



I don't believe you have lived, until you have ridden in a car with four children. Period. It is unlike anything you will ever experience. We decided to take the kids back home to visit Grandma this weekend. Luckily, it is close enough that we are able to do a day trip. It is two hours and change one way. We play at her house for the day, then we drive back home. Sounds simple enough. Oh but is anything ever THAT easy when kids are involved?

I have documented before what it takes to get four children ready and actually in the car. That alone is an undertaking. Let's just start from there though. Dad has them in the car, ready to go, and I get into the car and close the door.

Dad is doing the driving so I come prepared with things to occupy myself for the trip: My iPad for playing Candy Crush and a copy of  "Let's Pretend This Never Happened</" by the Domestic Diva herself. This is going to be a good trip. All of the kids have their tablets (Santa was no fool this year). Dad will listen to his sports radio, the kids will play their games and I will have a chance to relax. Yeah, I didn't actually believe that for one second either.

As we back out of the driveway, it begins. Every time we are going to see Grandma, my middle son has high hopes that she has somehow moved closer and the trip won't take as long. Almost on cue he asks "Does Grandma live any closer yet? Do we have to get on the interstate?" My response was not exactly what he wanted to hear, so before we get out of the driveway good, he is already coming unhinged. He looks down at his tablet, luckily it looks like I will have a few more minutes of peace.

Everyone is playing their games, Princess Leni Kravitz (the family puppy) is already passed out in my lap and Dad is singing along with the radio. I take this opportunity to crack my book. Now please note that I have been attempting to read this book for MONTHS. It is just not as easy as it used to be to carve out me time. This is going to be great. This is where my oldest son goes and screws up everything by asking one simple question: Can I hold Leni?

My children are quite possibly the most competitive people on the planet. When my daughter hears him utter these words, she considers it her goal in life to get that puppy before he does. She starts saying she never gets to hold her and life is not fair and the dog doesn't even like him anyway. This of course lead to a rebuttal in which he claims that she is mean to the dog and should never be allowed to hold her. As one would expect, this leads to a slap fight (No? Is that only in my family?) that had to be contained before it spread to the back seat. Luckily I manage the middle row fairly easily. I can reach those two. If this thing makes it to the backseat? There is going to be trouble.

I tell the kids that I am going to hold Leni for her own safety. Each child is satisfied with this answer because their only interest at this point is keeping the other child from getting the dog. They each go back to minding their own business. This is going to be a great trip. I open my book to chapter 1.

I actually get to read a few pages before I hear a low rumbling coming from the back seat. This is where the youngest two are sitting. The older of the two (the same trouble maker who complained of Grandma living too far away) is trying to reason with his brother, that all of his decisions in Plants and Zombies, are bad ones. He then reaches across the car, trying to commandeer the tablet, in a effort to salvage the game. Now if you are the baby of four, and the third boy, you are not going to take any crap off of anyone. His knee-jerk reaction was to hit his brother upside the head with his tablet. MAYBE this would have made clear his request for a cease and desist, EXCEPT for the fact that he is strapped into a 5 point harness, no where to run. His brother? A mere seat belt. With one click of a button, my middle son dove across the car. And just like that there is a brawl in the back seat.

After much pleading and threatening to pull the car over, the boys returned to their corners. The good thing about brothers is even though it starts quickly, it often ends just as quickly. Skirmish number two is now in the history books. What page was I on? Oh yes, number 6.

We are now about half way through the trip. This is looking like it is going to be the easiest trip to date. Don't misunderstand me, there are never any quiet moments in the car. It is a constant stream of two or three conversations going on simultaneously. Someone is always singing or laughing loudly or bickering. Then my daughter begins her normal complaining about how she is bored and hungry and pretty sure she is going to have to pee at mile marker so-and-so. We have learned to ignore her since we figured out that she was born with an inability to be quiet. Ever. No really, NEVER.

We are now in the home stretch. I have actually finished a chapter in my book. I can practically taste the lunch that is waiting for us on Grandma's table. We have almost pulled off the easiest trip to date. But anyone who knows my life, knows it was not meant to be. There is always AN episode. I look back at the oldest two, they still seem content. My middle son in the back row, has removed his shirt. This act of rebellion has him satisfied and gratified as well. Then I look to number four. He has a strange look on his face. What is happening? My mother radar goes off that something isn't right. And then it happens.

He projectile vomits. Not once, but three times. It was like a dream because this cannot be real. I screamed as though I am being stabbed (my go-to reaction with vomit). Just like that, it is over. He actually shrugged his shoulders as if to say, whoops! There is vomit dripping off the car seat, some is stuck to the window. It's all over his 5 point harness. It's even in his shoes. I sit there dazed, because there is nothing I can do, frozen in disbelief. Did I really just witness that? The other three children process what has happened. They panic. It is anarchy.

Someone utters "Every man for himself!" After repeated warnings to remain in their seats, because we were still cruising down the interstate, they choose option B: anything BUT that. Get as far away from the puker as possible. I am struggling to keep them from climbing into the front seat. Dad made it to an interstate exit ramp, and is looking for a place to pull off to get this disaster under control. Either that or he was trying to get out of the vomit-riddled vehicle before the smell made it's way to the front seat. Either way. We have to get out of this car.

I won't take you through the gory details of the clean up because let's face it, you can NEVER get vomit out of a child's car seat. Or the carpet. If the option was available to leave the car there and take another one, we certainly would have. To be honest, this is not even the worst thing that has ever happened to us on a car trip. We'll just save that story for another post though.

The moral of THIS story is when traveling with children, you are absolutely NEVER going to arrive on time, in a good mood AND clean. You should accept this in advance. It is all about survival. We arrived. All six of us. One of us just so happened to show up wearing nothing but Star Wars underwear. Now, what's for lunch?


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