Tuesday, July 13, 2010

I started trying to tell you about the trip, but then I decided to get on my soapbox instead. Sorry.

So last week we went on vacation. And yes, I could go into a detailed description of what exactly we saw and did – the history of Fort Sumter, other important stuff in Charleston and what we liked best in Savannah. But seriously – you could buy a travel book and get way better (and highly likely more accurate! I mean, did the people writing the travel book take the tour of Fort Sumter with a 17 month old in need of a nap who was pretty ticked at us for forcing her on a 9 hour drive (Napolean’s retreat from Russia was not so inhumane) the day before? Well, I guess it’s possible. But then they probably fact checked on wikipedia to straighten that stuff out.), so let’s instead do highlights.

Day 1 (Friday) highlights – we got up about 5 with the intention of hitting the road by 5:30 (yeah, right. We’re seriously going to get both of us and a baby out of the house that fast. I put that one as my goal, but hoped for 6). It was about 6:30 when we left. We’d discussed it the night before and my husband asked – what’s the hurry? Why do we need to leave so early? It was about 8-9 hours to Charleston (plus stops) and we live in the DC suburbs. This means we either need to get our butts out of bed very early and get going before rush hour or we should wait till 10 to get started. My hope was to get going with the baby still tired so she’d go back to sleep in the car. Hahahahaha. Why yes, I am a first time mother. Why do you ask?

The monkey actually did exceptionally well with the car ride, all things considered. All things being its length PLUS the random pockets of traffic (seriously what the heck?) that we kept hitting. But let’s be honest, when we were rolling into our hotel after 6 that night, she’d had it. She’d had it quite awhile before actually… I’d packed a “bucket” full of car toys and had been refilling it and handing it to her to dump for a lot longer than I wanted to (I’m harder to amuse on a long car ride than a baby). A friend had offered us a dvd player for the car, but, like complete idiots, we’d decided against. The monkey isn’t really all that interested in TV anyway, but, as first time, idealistic, we won’t fall into these commercial traps, aren’t we so awesome and we’ll do it better parents, we also really didn’t want to introduce the car DVD player. Look, I know, I know! I hesitate to even mention these things as we ALL know I’m going to give in and get one in no time – long before she’s even telling me that “all her friends” have one. But still – in my ideal little ivory tower of parenthood… I hate them. They’re part of my whole “kids are getting soft” theory.

Before you get offended, note – I know that this is only my newbie, one kid idealism and really, deep down, I know it will fall. But (but!) – do you remember long car rides as a kid? Yes, they were boring and interminable (I’m pretty sure I’m actually still in the middle of that one when I was 12 and all this is just a dream. Hmm – you think I’d be more successful in my own dream, huh? At least thinner…) and how horrifying (we won’t even discuss my car sickness/ projectile vomiting. I apologize if you ever got the rental car after us) and all that. But, we had to DO stuff to combat all that. We played the license plate game. And the alphabet game. And the “let’s name all 50 states” game (and why did we usually only get 49 till our parents or other adult woke up at 3 am thinking – oh, sheesh! How did I forget West Virginia?!). We had to get creative. On occasion we actually had to talk to each other! (Until I hit my teens and brought my walkman along to avoid that horror.) But now we don’t have to do any of that – we can wait for the world to entertain us with DVDs.

And here’s the other thing – is all this making it impossible for us to be alone? I know, holy leap there, batman! But hear me out. When I first moved from NJ to DC, I used to actually kind of enjoy the drives back and forth. Not the traffic, but I remember thinking it was a 4 hour license to daydream. I mean, seriously – I couldn’t be doing something “productive” for all that time. It was my “me” time to zone out. But the truth is – I’m not so comfortable with that anymore. My Dad got sick and I did the drive nearly every weekend for months and I really didn’t want “me” time anymore – there was too much in my head and I had to get out of it. So I started getting on my cell phone for large portions of the drive. And then I discovered books on tape – my new car entertainment! If I couldn’t find a book I wanted to read, I’d just “reread” old ones. And now, truthfully, I’ve lost some of my ability to be alone with myself. I can barely commute without a book on tape or the phone to my ear, let alone take a long car ride.

Anyway, this is getting long and we haven’t even checked in – or gotten to the story of eating dinner in the bathroom that night so as not to wake the baby who we’ve finally gotten to sleep in our “it turns out ‘suite’ just means there’s a couch on the far side of the room” hotel room at 9 pm after the wait at the one nearby restaurant was too long. So maybe we better go for part 2.

But as I’ve spouted out my burst of uninvited social commentary, I open it up to you. What do you think of the car dvd players (and how long will I likely last before I also realize that they are gifts from God?!)? What car games did you play as a kid? Do you think all our electronic hooks are making our ability to be alone die a slow and painful death (or, more likely, a “so quick I didn’t even notice it” death)?


  1. We just got back from being on the road for two weeks with a 10 year old and 16 month old. Now you must understand that we did not stay in a hotel but a tent, so we had no TV! My oldest son does have a Nitendo and a DVD player but in all honestly he only got them out when his little brother was asleep and the scenary was boring.

    Hold out on the DVD player until your daughter is old enough to change it herself! It will make your life easier. But I feel holding out as long as you can will make more memories for your daughter--Just look at your memories!!

    Check out my blog to see the our experiences with being on the road with two kids for two weeks!


  2. You're braver than I am with that whole car trip thing.

    I'm with you on the DVD player. I ain't gonna judge, but watching movies in the car just isn't necessary. Exercise your brain. If you're bored, you're boring. I don't think those munchkins on the Oregon Trail had DVD players in their wagons when they spent the better part of a year crossing the West. Read, play, sing, sleep, talk, hold up rude signs at the cars in the next lane. No DVDs.

    (May I add that my mother had a near mental breakdown on one of our annual DVD-less roadtrips and begged to be taken to a Greyhound station?)

    Can't make it through a 20 minute ride to the grocery store without checking something on my iPhone so my opinion really has little validity.


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