Summer vacation brings to mind endless family road trips to the beach and visits with family. I don't mind road trips and recently, I've been taking a lot of them. Shuttling my kids back and forth down the I-95 Corridor every other weekend to facilitate visitation with their father has proven challenging, but I do it for my kids. Yes, I'm breaking my own arm patting myself on the back because I hear way too many moms complain about driving 10 minutes up the road to Target to drop their kids off. Try driving three hours. Yeah, you 10-minute commute complainers can suck it.
I miss the days when my kids were babies. Yeah, I would have to pack half the house to take them anywhere, but they fell asleep as soon as you turned the corner. Now, at the ages of 6 and 5, they are complete and total jerks from the time we pull out of the driveway until we arrive at our destination.
I've packed Kindles, toy bags, snacks and anything else they could possibly want, but it doesn't stop what will inevitably happen next. The fighting, the arguing and the crying. Twin A doesn't want to sit next to Twin B. If I put him in the back row with my daughter, then Twin B will cry because he's by himself. I feel like I'm doing a seating plan for a wedding where half the guest list has been divorced from and/or dated the other half. I think the people who do the seating chart at the Grammy's have it easier. Just put Taylor Swift away from all eligible bachelors and you're fine. I wish I had those problems. Once the seating issue is resolved, usually through bribes, (don't judge, I just want to get on the damn road) I can get on my way.
I love music, my daughter and Twin A love music, Twin B does not. How in the world he can be my child? I have no idea. I try to play it low, but then the kids in the back can't hear it and they start yelling for me to crank it up. Twin B wants it off and since I run my household like a Democracy, the majority wins -- sorry, kid. Eventually, a favorite song will come on and Twin B will start crying because the harpies in the back are singing at the top of their lungs and he doesn't want to hear it anymore. He'll yell, "Be Quiet" for about an hour before he gives up, rubs his blanket and falls asleep. One down, two more to go and at this point, I've just made it to Delaware.
To stop or not to stop? Nah! Keep going.
Somewhere in Delaware, the racket usually settles down. The ride becomes smoother because of the lack of potholes and the last two eventually fall asleep. I don't know why but for some reason, everyone always has to pee when we get to Joppa, Maryland. I would love to drive straight through and usually do when I'm alone, but it's like they smell something there that tells their bladder it's time to pee. They all wake up and start yelling, "we gotta pee."
Three kids, in one stall, in a 7-11, in Joppa. Sounds like the beginning to a funny joke, but it's not funny at all. It's usually embarrassing because they are yelling "Hi" while looking under the stalls. Telling everyone that your peeing/farting/pooping. Oh, and I forgot to mention, screaming when the toilet auto-flushes because they are afraid of it. If there was ever a point of this trip when I say "why me?", it would be in Joppa on the pee break.
Once we're back in the car and buckled up, I distribute snacks and juice boxes that will hopefully last them until we get to our destination. Every now and again, an empty juice box will fly past my head and hit the dash board. Then, I'll hear an insane giggle from the back. I'm surprised I don't suffer from a PTSD episode every time I see a Capri Sun. I've dodged juice boxes, shoes and sometimes toys, all while trying to keep my eyes on the road.
The rest of the trip, they'll fight some more and sing. The toys that they just had to bring with them now litter the floor of the van, along with juice boxes and crushed Goldfish. If my kids ever become artists, their medium would be crushed Goldfish and McDonald's fries. (I wonder if I could sell that on Etsy?)
By the time we pull into the parking lot of my their father's job, I look like I've been road hard and put up wet. My voice is hoarse from yelling, "stop it" and "will you two knock it off." He'll ask me why I look like a train wreck and my usual response is, "I've been riding in the car with little boys."