It’s time to load the car. I strap in the toddler into her car seat, making sure she has a toy handy, and then make sure the luggage is stowed, snacks for the kids are packed and easily accessible, then the kids and the dog are all loaded and ready for their trip to Grandma’s. Everyone is all excited about spending the weekend, even the dog who barks repeatedly at every tree you pass by on our way out of the sub-division. Likely he has deduced that this is one car trip that he is allowed to go on that doesn’t require a visit to the vet.
Ten minutes into the journey, the toddler begins to wail, which quickly escalates to high pitched screams. The dog soon joins in while the other kids are trying to tell little sis to stop. She is ignoring the pleas of her siblings. Apparently my youngest can’t find her stuffed kitty. That stuffed kitty goes everywhere with my three year old, She sleeps with it, plays with it, takes it with her on all important journeys, like to the bathroom. It is her constant and most important companion. A quick search reveals no stuffed kitty anywhere in the mini-van. I can see the interstate on-ramp just yards away. There’s no way we are going back, knowing good and well that Grandma has plenty of toddler friendly toys at her house.
The stuffed kitty was lying on the sidewalk right where my darling daughter had dropped it on the way to the car. The 10 year old also decided that she had to go to the bathroom, so I gave her the house key and told her to hurry. That quick potty trip had taken 15 minutes because she was looking for a Barbie to take along. I then sent in the 14 year old to fetch her. He too was taking his time. Meanwhile my darling spouse is making huffing noises, and periodically honking the horn in frustration. Sighing, I go in and get those kids back in the car. Forty-five minutes later, we are pulling out of the driveway again.
As soon as we hit the interstate the question is asked “Are we there yet?” No, I tell the querying child, and go on to explain that the trip will last a few awhile yet. All is quiet in the car…for about fifteen minutes.
“Mom, Tell her to stop touching me!” The eldest implores.
“Tell him to get out of my space, he’s sitting way too close!” the younger one retorts
‘”Make her move Mom; I can feel her breathing on me!”
“Its air and I can breathe on you if I want!”
“Both of you stop right now and move apart from each other by three inches each!” I command. A moment passes, and I hear the younger child murmur sadistically “Not touching you, not touching you, not touching you…”
I turn around and catch my child with finger millimeters from her brother, my son with a murderous look on his face. “Stop it both of you!”
Two minutes later, someone asks “Are we there yet?”
Forty five minutes into the trip, the kids have decided they are hungry. Never mind that I fed them before I left the house, they know there are snacks in the car and they must have them or suffer the consequences of starvation. Even the toddler, who has yet to fall asleep, is demanding Cheetos. In no time at all a week’s worth of junk food is consumed and someone needs to go to the bathroom really, really bad.
Twenty minutes later, our van pulls out of the rest stop. My bladder is thankful, and I am chiding myself for not having gone on that return trip to the house. The dog got to visit a tree, and almost made a break for the woods behind the rest stop when he saw the squirrel that was just asking to be chased. As soon as the car gets up to speed with the rest of the traffic I hear “Are we there yet?”
It doesn’t take long for yet another sibling spat to start up. This time it is over whose turn it is to play with the hand held video game.
“Mawwwoom! Tell her to give me the game. She’s been playing since we left the house. It’s my turn.”
“No I haven’t! I didn’t play when we were at the rest stop. I had to take care of the dog.”
About this time, my spouse who has been mostly silent until now says in a gruff voice, “You kids need to be quiet. Daddy is trying to concentrate on getting through this traffic.” Looking ahead, I see four cars and a dump truck.
Breaking the concentration of a man reaching his destination is something best not done. He is a man on a mission. The goal is Grandma’s and delays such as bathroom breaks, hungry children or dogs horking up Cheetos the toddler fed him is just going to add to the frustration of achieving the destination on time, hopefully shaving a few minutes off his record. Yes, he keeps score.
At least Dad’s input into the sibling rivalry works. The kids are quiet, the game has been confiscated and the toddler looking sleepy. It looks like the other two may be settling down for some snooze time as well. I finally get to open that new best seller I’ve wanted to read when I hear. “Are we there yet?”
I manage to get through a whole chapter when two things happen, I smell something horrific. Then I hear. “EWWWWW! You farted!”
“Who-ever smelt it dealt it and I didn’t do it!”
” Who-ever denied it supplied it! It must be you!”
“Was too!” In the meantime the windows are being rolled down as the aromatic offerings by the anonymous offender are diffused from the car. I look over at my husband. He has a smirk on his face. Why is he looking like that? I wonder…”Oh!” I retaliate by aiming all the air vents in his direction and turning the AC on high.
Soon, the words “I gotta go” are heard, spoken by the three year old at the same time I hear the now inevitable “Are we there yet?” I ignore the second question and look over to my spouse who announces “Well, we are getting a bit low on gas.” He then passes the next eight exits because he’s not about to pay THAT much a gallon, while mine and my daughter’s agitation grows. Finally he decides that he’s not going to find a better price for gas considering the best price he saw was nine exits ago and pulls into a station.
I unstrap the toddler from her seat and rush her into the bathroom with seconds to spare. It is only after she’s in full pee mode that I discover the disgusting state of the stall. I use an entire box of wipes to get her clean to my sanitation standards and head back to the car, only to find it empty. That is because we are at a truck stop that contains a gift shop and a fast food restaurant. My family is standing in line for food, while the oldest tries his hardest to catch a glimpse of the girlie magazine display without notice from any grownup.
Forty five minutes, two more bathroom trips by family members and 20,000 calories later we are all full and on the way again. I wait for it and am not disappointed when I hear “Are we there yet?” ten minutes into the next leg of the journey.
Eventually we reach our destination and are welcomed by Grandma and Grandpa as the kids pour out of the car and the dog jumps out of the van and begins to grace the lawn with his presence. The older kids head immediately to the pool. They apparently have planned one thing in advance and are already peeling off shirts and shorts revealing the bathing suits hidden underneath. My husband goes in the direction of the television. He is muttering something under his breath about at least being able to watch the post-game highlights. I am left with the toddler, the dog and all that luggage. My youngest, who has just awakened looks up at me with sleepy eyes and says with a lisp. “Are we there yet?” “Yes Sweetie, we are.” I answer, kissing the top of her head. I hand her off to grandma, deciding to make everyone help unload later, and head into the house. I know where the good ice cream is hidden.