Road Tripping with Toddlers

by Deborah Cruz
Originally Published: 

Road tripping with toddlers is like swallowing shards of glass and then trying to drink salt water. It’s painful. It’s awful and, most likely; someone’s going to get hurt. I found this out the hard way a couple summers ago.

The spring of 2009 we decided to turn a job interview into a mini family vacation. It was not a good idea and I don’t recommend it, no matter how cheap you may be. We were on the road for 12 glorious hours. Yes, that is correct, 12 hours with a 4 and barely turned 2 year old. It was even worse than it sounds.

My, otherwise, sweet loving girls never liked to be confined in those 5 point harnesses on a good day on a trip across town. Imagine if you dare, their state of mind faced with taking their very first long road trip imprisoned in those wonderful harnesses. I would have jumped out of my own skin had you tried to buckle me into that claustrophobic, thigh pinching torture chair…for twelve hours.

My oldest insisted on asking, every 20 minutes or so, “Are we there yet?” I always thought that was a funny spoof on parenting but now I realize that it is, in fact, the truth of traveling with children. I never realized how frazzling that could be to me as a person. I thought “those” moms had no patience. I’ve since realized that it can actually bring you to the brink of insanity and make a grown woman cry, almost inconsolably, if asked in the right voice and enough times over a 12 hour period.

While the oldest was hitting us high with the barrage of “Are we there yet”s the youngest was freaking out of her ever-loving mind about a gnat. Yes, a gnat! Apparently, it must have been the scariest, meanest, baby eating gnat you ever did see because, God bless her little bitty heart, she screamed bloody murder for at least 3 hours of the trip. Oh, the humanity!

In summation, my 4 year old was asking if we were there yet, every single second of every single minute we were on the road. Concurrently, my 2 year old was being terrorized by a gnat and screamed so highly pitched, that all the dogs of the world were seeking her out to eat her and end their misery. I was on the verge of losing the battle for my sanity and my poor beloved husband was trying to plot his course to the nearest gunsmith to rent a gun and buy a bullet…or four.

I pulled out my bag of tricks because obviously the 1200 DVDs that I brought were not holding their attention. We colored. We sang, only the songs that they knew, so “Twinkle, Twinkle”,”Mary had a little Lamb”, “Happy Burtday to you!” and ” Five, Five Dolla..Five Dolla foot long!” Yes, my 2 year old was obsessed with the Subway commercial jingle. That jingle played incessantly during that road trip. My 2 year old sang it every time. It was the cute the first 100 times or so. Someone needed a lesson in moderation. Interrupted only by the “Are we there yet?” inquiry of her sister. So brink of insanity, on way to gun shops, we stop for lunch and we try and let the girls stretch their legs at some wayward Wendys in West Virginia. Not my idea, have you seen Wrong Turn?

We get lunch. Food’s not cooked completely. No problem, Mommy to the rescue. While I’m busy letting my food get cold so that I can supervise the pimply face kid at the Wrong Turn Wendys actually cook my children’s chicken flavored whatsamanuggets, a fly dares to descend upon the table. All hell breaks lose. Toddlers were jumping everywhere, screaming, crying, and running away in terror. I did mention it was a fly and not Godzilla, right? Not a horsefly, just a regular old housefly!

In true fix the situation fast fashion, I take off my flip-flop and kill that sucker dead…right there in front of all the great patrons of the Wrong Turn Wendy’s. Then for no reason at all, my youngest yells at the absolute top of her lungs “EWWWW, FAArTED.Stinks”. Absolutely, mortified, I skulk out of the Wrong Turn Wendy’s with my little girls in hand and a dead Godzilla fly on my Flip-Flop. Only to realize, she hadn’t farted at all but had actually blown out her diaper. Longest 12 hours of my life.

In the end, we may be a little worse for the wear but really, I think of it as a testament to our family dynamic that we all arrived safely at our destination, bypassing any and all asylums and gun shops…save for that poor Godzilla fly at the Wrong Turn Wendys.

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