|What to do? What to do?|
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?|
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.
- You could not identify a sign, pole or mailbox that someone had already pointed out.
- Every 10 miles, someone was allowed to add something to the list (i.e. swimming pool, satellite dish, dog, etc.)
- In the event of a disagreement, the loudest person would get the point
- Kirsten was the only person allowed to identify water towers.
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!