July has come upon us and along with the scorching heat comes the annual family vacation. Each summer my family goes on what I like to call a "progressive" vacation. Since we live in North Carolina and the rest of our family lives mainly in PA and NY, we travel North to see them. This can be quite the adventure, and I will try my best to accurately document and describe the experience as it happens.
However, first, lets think about the word "vacation." When one thinks of a vacation, it often involves: relaxing, sun, drinking from a coconut, things of that nature. Although I selflessly love my children, when they are involved, "vacation" is no longer the term that should be used. A vacation with children means: more pitstops, middle of the night feedings, nonstop running, diapers, the list could go on and on. This is a realization that needs to be made before beginning your vacation. If you have some false notion that it will be all relaxing and sun, then you won't survive. It's better to just face the facts and prepare for what's ahead.
The big change in the vacation equation this year was the addition of a car top carrier (or roof rack). It is designed to place belongings on the roof of your car thus giving more room in the car itself. For some reason the thought of strapping suitcases and other belongings to the top of a car sounds like a recipe for disaster. It makes me think of those horror movies when the girl hears a noise and goes downstairs to see what is happening. That never works out in a positive way. I fully expected our belongings to be thrown about I-95. Thankfully nothing fell out and the carrier did what it was designed to do.
So we are packed up ready to go. My wife is in the house making sure things are turned off and doors are locked while I am in the van buckling up children and giving them the road trip pep talk. It is important to note that I have twin 3 year old boys and a 6 week old boy. To the twins - "Now you guys are wearing pull ups, so if you need to go to the bathroom just go in your pull up, understand?" "uh huh," they replied cordially, probably not even listening to what I was saying. The statement I made may not have been a big deal to the average person, but what I know that you don't, is that my wife spent a lot of time and energy getting my kids potty-trained. They are finally communicating their needs regarding the bathroom, and now I am telling them the exact opposite of everything my wife has been telling them. Instead of telling them to use the bathroom, I am telling them to use their pants. I decided not to tell my wife the pep talk that the boys and I had.
Our trip starts just like any other trip; a family eager to get to their destination full of energy and excitement. "I wanna watch Polar Express." we hear from the back. "You got it!" Ahhh, isn't it great that kids can just sit and watch a DVD and be zoned out in the back of a minivan. Parents don't need to worry about interaction of any kind, they can just pass back snacks and keep their kids happy. Some point during the first couple of hours my wife lets the boys know, "If you need to go potty, let me know and we can stop and go." uh oh. Are the boys gonna sell me out or are they just going to brush mom off and keep their eyes glued to the DVD player. Before the thoughts in my head are even complete I hear Quinn say, "No, daddy says to go in diaper." SOLD! I guess 3 year olds don't quite understand the bro code yet.
As we are parked at our first pit stop, I come to the realization that any hope of making good time is out the window. We need to feed a baby, take the boys to the bathroom, and let them stretch out for awhile. After nearly an hour we hop back in the car energized and ready to press on. (This is about 3 hours into our trip). The boys are given some snacks and we put a fresh DVD in the player. This isn't so bad. My wife and I listening to music, the boys in the back watching a movie, baby Jonas in the middle row chillin out. Life is pretty good. Then it happened. the DVD player shut off. NOOO! Earlier before leaving we realized that the car adapter for the player was broken so we would use it's battery. Needless to say, the battery let us down. 2.5 hour battery life? Give me a break.
Hmmmm... What could be done to solve the problem of cranky, complaining kids in the backseat? I know, how about I ask them questions and try to talk with them. Kids love that. Wrong. They didn't want me to talk with them. They wanted gratification from a source of media, not family bonding. In went the kids cd. What adult sings those kid songs anyway? The woman who is singing is trying to sound like a kid which makes each song sound so terrible. Unfortunately the boys love this cd and in the back I have two kids singing away.
Also at this time, my wife moved to the middle row to help calm down a screaming 6 week old. A screaming 6 week old, a screaming 45 year old woman trying to sound like a kid, in go my headphones. Ahhhh much better. Trip continues as planned.
Our first stop was in Hershey, PA and we made it there about 4:30. Nothing too exciting happened on the rest of the drive there, except for the large amounts of beef jerky and red bull that was consumed by yours truly.