Dignity Health

The Family Trip: Don't Make Me Stop This Car!


by Tracie Grimes
Tracie is a monthly contributor to Kern County Family Magazine

humor
Summer is almost over, which means you only have a few more days to plan your family trip.  Notice I used the term “trip,” not “vacation.”  And, there’s a reason for that.

The term “vacation” implies a period of time during which you get to sit back, relax, maybe read a novel at your leisure while sipping on a cold frosty beverage.  A trip takes place when you pile the kids into a car and listen to whiny voices saying things like, “Are we there yet?” or “She’s touching me!”

“Why don’t you get some fun car games and activities together for the car ride?” more than one person has suggested.  “Are you SERIOUS!” I have to say.  Yeah, it would be nice if my kids were like those kids you see in the car commercials who are happily playing with their Leapfrog, watching a DVD, or having fun with a handheld gaming system; but these things don’t work in my world.  Sure, they start out laughing and giggling, but it’s only a matter of moments before it turns to yelling and crying.

“Could you PAL-EASE turn down that video game?!  You’re so annoying!!!”   “Please, Mommy, not another episode of The Gilmore Girls!”

I once tried to break up a long trip by stopping several times at any place that looked semi-educational or kid-friendly.  A stop to look at the “World’s Largest Ball of Twine’ or even a quick break at a grocery store with one of those mechanical-horse rides out in front – hey, whatever stops the noise.  Those kinds of things are only good till the kids reach the age of three or four, though.  Then, I tried pointing out interesting things along the highway.   “Look kids – there’s a herd of cows!  MOOOOO!!!  MOOOO!!!” I belted excitedly as I rolled down the windows on one trip to the beach.  My kids rolled their eyes as they snorted out, “Are you SERIOUS, Mom!  What are we, like three years old?!”

Seeing the cows did remind them that they were hungry and had to go to the bathroom, however.  That took the whining to a whole new level.

You’d think everyone would settle down and allow you to relax once you got to your destination. Uh, no.  Even if you’ve carefully chosen your destination because it has a “family friendly” pool (the term, “family friendly,” by the way, is code for “don’t think you can relax for even a minute because the police-whistle-like screams from the thousands of toddlers paddling in the shallow end are loud enough to wake the dead”),  you can’t even get through one page of your magazine, because one of your offspring is always yelling, “Look at me, Mom!” or “Watch this, Mom!”  It’s exhausting.

I think knowing the difference between a “vacation” and a “trip” can save a person a lot of heartache.  Keep your expectations low, then any trip that doesn’t involve a trip to the emergency room or a Xanax every night will be a roaring success.  It’s called spending “quality” time with your children.  And, you do have to capture some Kodak moments for the scrapbook.  Just try to get a shot where the kids don’t have each other in a headlock.

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Tags: Enrichment, Travel

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