Thursday, September 20, 2012

Sign, Pole ... MAILBOX!!!

What to do? What to do?
School has been in session for a month and I have been broke for that entire time. The money issue has recently been resolved, but I still have this cloud floating over my head. Since summer is over, it's time to settle in and get serious about life for a while. I haven't really had much of a choice. Between both my daughter's school schedule and my own, plus not having any money, we haven't done much. This isn't truly a bad thing, but I think the awesome summer I just had and the abrupt halt to all the fun is bringing the winter doldrums on early. I'm getting a little stir crazy.

I've been reflecting on past trips and remembering several taken when the kids were younger. It used to be our tradition to take a small trip every Saturday. We usually kept it under a hundred mile radius, but it was something fun to do on a weekend. However, having small children was often a challenge on car trips. They traveled well, but sometimes I had to come up with something to busy their minds.

One car game that lasted for several years was born out of madness one morning. I married Christian's mother when he was three years old and it took him and I a little while to hit it off. You can read about our rocky relationship here and here. One day, I was driving into town and he was doing what he usually did when we were alone in the car. He crawled out of his car seat and was curled up in a ball on the passenger side floor.

He cried about being hungry.

He cried that we weren't going to see Grandpa.

He cried about forgetting his favorite toy at home.

He cried because his shoe fell off.

This was one of those days that I was trying not to pull out my hair and chuck him through the window. I was stressed and could feel the tension mounting more and more as he found new things to whine about. I was biting through my lip as his most recent wail reached a pitch that caused the dogs we passed to start howling. Suddenly, I had an epiphany. Small children are stupid.

It couldn't be too hard to distract him despite his thinking his life was in shambles. I looked around in desperation for an idea. Then, I saw it on the road ahead and started pointing. "Look, Christian, a mailbox."

Christian paused mid-sob as he raised his snot encrusted face. "What?"

"Right there, on the side of the road. There's a mailbox. We have one of those."

He popped up into the seat to see what had me so excited. Once he saw it, he forgot what he was upset about and smiled.

"Oh, Christian, look. There's another one"

He pointed at it and laughed. I innocently asked, "I wonder if there's more."

Who knew they were so much fun?
For the next twenty minutes, we pointed out all the mailboxes we saw. I made sure to let him find several of them first since it wasn't his fault I was smarter and more observant than him. Later, when his mom was in the car, he kept pointing out the mailboxes to us. She didn't question it.

This became our regular routine when in the car together. It kept him busy and more importantly kept him in a much better mood. However, mailboxes aren't always as plentiful as I would have liked them to be. If we hit a stretch of highway with no houses, he would revert back to his whiny ways, so I added telephone poles and eventually signs.

Any type of sign would work. Billboards, stop signs and mile markers were all fair game. So, trips in our car sounded like this: SIGN, SIGN, POLE, SIGN, MAILBOX, POLE, MAILBOX, SIGN, SIGN, SIGN, POLE, MAILBOX, POLE, SIGN!

As time went on, we began to apply rules to the game.
  1. You could not identify a sign, pole or mailbox that someone had already pointed out.
  2. Every 10 miles, someone was allowed to add something to the list (i.e. swimming pool, satellite dish, dog, etc.)
  3. In the event of a disagreement, the loudest person would get the point
  4. Kirsten was the only person allowed to identify water towers.
Once Kirsten was born and started playing this game that had been evolving for years, we gave water tower sightings to her. However, Christian loved to point them out as soon as he saw them (even when we weren't playing) and send Kirsten into crying fits. "Bubby took my tower. Those are mine!"

ME: "Christian, you know those belong to your sister. Give her back the tower."

CHRISTIAN: (pouting) "But I saw it first."

ME: "The mailboxes are yours. Her seat is not high enough to be able to see them. Give it back."

KIRSTEN: (throwing a toy at his face) "Yeah, Poopy Head. It's mine."

CHRISTIAN: "You can have it, Sissy."

KIRSTEN: (looking around) "Now I can't see it." (starts crying again)

Once getting that taken care of the game sounded like this:
(EVERYONE YELLING) SIGN, MAILBOX, POLE, POLE, THAT ONE'S MINE, SIGN, MAILBOX, SATELLITE, POLE, MAILBOX, DOG, SIGN, OH WAIT IT WAS TWO DOGS, SIGN, SIGN, MAILBOX, ANOTHER DOG, SATELLITE, DOG, NOPE THAT WAS A SMALL HORSE, MAILBOX, POLE, SIGN, POLE, CHIMNEY, THAT WAS LAST WEEK, NO CHIMNEYS, SIGN, POLE, SIGN, SIGN, MAILBOX, WATER TOWER

 CHRISTIAN, STOP IT!

38 comments:

  1. I love that game! (Now that I know of it.)

    We played the alphabet game...calling letters of the alphabet as we saw them on signs along the highway. They MUST BE in order! But I think everyone played that game.

    We also "collected" states from license plates. On our summer week-long vacations, at least. That one has always stuck with me. I always notice states on plates.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We played the alphabet and state game when they got a little older, but for 3 and 4 year old, it had to be simpler.

      This game becomes total chaos when played correctly. I have taught it to college kids on long bus trips and used it with my church youth group. As ridiculous as it sounds, they seem to enjoy it. Of course, the rules are more complicated for them.

      Delete
  2. HAHAHAHAHA. Oh wow. I do none of that. My kids just stare at the movie playing in the back of my head. I mean seat. It's blissfully quiet when they are engaged with some movie or other. It's when they wanna converse or some such that I want to pull my hair out. Maybe I need to try this game.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I would have happily played a movie for them, but those gadgets weren't around yet. They tended to want me to entertain them.

      Delete
  3. What a great post Brett! Glad things are looking up and by the way...is that squirrel planking?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you and I don't know about the squirrel. I think he was drunk.

      Delete
  4. The whole "Small children are stupid" thing made me laugh so hard that I almost choked. I have now learned not to drink anything while reading your blog.

    That's a game I'll have to remember though.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hope you didn't spew on your computer. As for children, it's true. Just spend some time with one.

      Delete
  5. A clever solution, but eventually all that identification would have driven me more nuts that a whimpering child. Just sit back and let the kid drive the car.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It got a bit maddening at times, but it's much easier to tolerate when you're a participant.

      Delete
  6. You, my friend, are a GENIUS. And thank you for pointing out how stupid kids are. I couldn't put my finger on it all these years, but you nailed it. But then again, I'm quite mentally blighted myself.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I believe it is their lack of education. Plus, they drool all the time.

      Delete
  7. Preach preach preach....I have been waiting for this!!!! TOO FUNNY...and who would have thunk....after 4 yrs of hangin out that there would be stories I haven't heard!!! Gr8 post preach!!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you. I still have stories. I just have to dig them up.

      Delete
  8. sounds like a great game.... thankfully I've yet to travel often in cars with children.. .I think I'm going to save this to my memory banks for later use.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Better yet, avoid traveling with children. Much quieter.

      Delete
  9. LOL! That's kind of adorable, distracting a kid with mailboxes. I always stick to things like cars or trains.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anything would have worked. It's my go to for any screaming kids. Get them to forget about whatever their issue is.

      Delete
  10. This game is so fun! I would call out my favorite cars, but somehow I'd never end up with them. I couldn't figure out how, since they were all wishes to begin with.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sometimes we would name three things that had to be found.

      Man wearing a hat
      Standing water (i.e. puddle, pond, pool)
      Barb wire fence

      Everyone would get quiet while they searched.

      Delete
  11. Never underestimate the power of the mailbox! I haven't had many family road trips and don't have to settle the kids down that much.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I was in college later and we found ourselves in the car a lot. This kept us from going mad.

      Delete
  12. When I was a single Dad, I would have to make a 6+ hour round trip to pick my girls up in Dallas. We didn't have iPads, iPhones, portable DVD players or the like to keep the kids entertained, so you had to come up with silly games like the ones you mentioned.

    One of our favorite ones (best played when they are older) is the Crazy Sentence game. The first player would randomly choose a letter in the alphabet and make a word with it. The next player would repeat the word and add a word with the next letter in the alphabet. This continued until you had a crazy sentence made from every letter in the alphabet.

    One game that had to be outlawed in my car was Slug Bug. This would always result in arguments and fist fights. *BANNED*

    Michael A. Walker
    Defying Procrastination

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I liked the different alphabet games. We had one where someone would name a celebrity and then someone had to name one whose first name started with the same letter as the last name as the previous one.

      I would also issue a challenge to make them think.

      Give me 20 boys names that star with 'B'.

      Name 20 breeds of dogs.

      Delete
  13. Hahhaaa that game would stress me out, with my unhealthy and unusual OCD and ADHD combo!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. People joining us in the car often had a real problem with the game. It got a bit crazy at times.

      Delete
  14. We gave each of our three kids headphones and portable DVD player. It was like shooting them full of morphine.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I would have loved to have those. We had to resort to Nyquil

      Delete
  15. that was too damn funny my friend, literal tears in my eyes by the time i got to the end and read the final 'water tower!'...i always thought that it was easier when they were little because everything was new and amazing and wonderful like Willy Wonka's world of imagination, but you're right - they're just stupid. i am loving your new 'blog all the time' schedule, seems like you just keep getting funnier...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much. I worry when I dedicate myself to writing more that I will not have enough to write about, but it seems just the opposite is true. The more I write, the more ideas I have.

      Delete
  16. Ah, brings back memories. I remember countless games of sign alphabet, with various rules.

    WG

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I played that game hundreds of times while traveling with my parents.

      Delete
  17. That sounds like the best game ever! I don't have any kids, but I think I could possibly start a rousing game with Mrs Addman.

    *throws away hungry hungry hippos*

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It never gets old and is very easy to learn.

      Delete
  18. Just think, when Christian gets old enough you can take him to a strip joint.

    POLE POLE POLE!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. He's twenty now, but avoids those places. I don't believe he has ever been to one.

      Delete
  19. Lol, it's amazing how observant you get when you have a yelling toddler in the car.:)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have learned to work magic to keep them quiet.

      Delete

Leave a comment. C'MON!!! You're already here. Leave a comment. Don't leave me hanging and wondering if any has ever seen these words. I'll rub your feet.