You have to pack the bags. You have to pack the cars. You have to dole out snacks, drinks, toys, and chosen electronic devices. You need your purse, your drink, your GPS. Then you stick somewhere from three to seven people into the space of a double bed and turn the key. With a road trip, things get intense pretty quickly. Unfortunately, it’s illegal to drug your children for the duration of the ride. So you have to listen to what they say. And what they say can be terrible, terrible things.
1. Are we there yet?
I swore this was myth—something only obnoxious TV kids say. But every road trip, my children have proven me wrong. No, we’re not there yet. We haven’t left the driveway.
2. I have to pee.
This statement only comes when you’re in the middle of nowhere, you just took a pee stop 10 minutes before, or you’re 20 minutes from home—or all of the above. Filthy, dark bathroom, here we come!
3. I peed.
Didn’t stop quick enough, did you? Next time, you’ll steel yourself and pull off at the scary truck stop. Also now your car smells like pee ’til the end of time.
4. I want a drink.
How am I supposed to get it to you, kid? Telekinesis? Alternately, if they want to stop and buy one, you’re in the middle of nowhere.
5. I spilled my drink.
This inevitably comes five minutes after the last statement. Now you have to decide if you’ll stop and clean it up or let them sit in it.
6. How much longer?
Your children will ask this approximately 25,000 times in the duration of your trip. By the fifth time, you’ll be biting off snarky responses. By the 25th, you’ll be questioning the existence of God.
7. I have to poop.
Every parent knows that poop on the road is so much worse than pee on the road, because all kids have their weird poop rituals, and you’ll have to lurk in some sketchy gas station bathroom while they do them.
8. I pooped.
Stop. Pray you have an accessible change of clothes. Open all the windows. Leave them that way.
9. I think the baby pooped.
This presents an annoying conundrum. The good parent pulls over immediately and changes a diaper. The bad parent waits until the next stop. You’ll be the bad parent, won’t you? But you’ll feel guilty.
10. He’s touching me.
Now they’re starting to mess with each other. Your ride just got much more fun and exciting.
11. He’s looking at me.
You will question exactly how much of a weenie your child actually is. At this rate, he’ll be stuffed in lockers in a few years.
12. So-and-so’s van has a DVD player in it.
You insisted on no DVD player, because dammit, they can look out the window like you did at that age. Well, how’s that working out for you?
13. I want to watch Frozen again.
You could have made them look out the window like you did at their age. This misery is self-inflicted.
14. I want to play with your phone.
You give it up. Now your source of entertainment is gone, or you need it for GPS, the answer’s no, and screaming misery ensues.
15. My iPad died.
No! It was the only thing keeping you quiet! Why must God be so cruel?
16. I left my blanky at home (screaming tears).
You can waste two hours and go back for blanky, or be an inhumane monster. Gotta keep on rolling, huh?
17. I took my shoes off.
Why does every child remove their shoes when faced with a car ride of any length? Then why do they lose them? Have fun minivan-diving at the next gas station.
18. I want to listen to ‘Frozen’/’Aladdin’/They Might Be Giants again.
They aren’t just annoying. They’re stupid, stupid earworms that will never leave.
19. I spilled my fries.
Your indulgent, unhealthy, mom guilt moment now lives mashed up in the spaces between everything. Bonus: Now your kid wants more fries.
20. When do we go home?
You’re finally, actually, truly almost there. Karma dictates they want to go back to where they came from. Don’t worry. It’s just regular old road trip fatigue. And a reminder that you’ve got to do this all again.