Monday, August 15, 2011

Triple F - Forced Family Fun

This bumper sticker on the back of an RV put us in hysterics in the front seat of our truck. We had obviously already been on the road too long.

Modern children seem not to realize how little control they actually have in their own worlds. Parents create the illusion. In some cases, the parents honestly give them the power. Having witnessed a few power struggles in my local Walmart, I am guessing parents do give their children too much power, at least now and then.

Okay, I do it too. Or, at least, I must. My kids occasionally mistake their own voices as being the source for decisions.

Sitting in an F-150 truck for a couple of thousand miles (5500 miles by the end) brings out these kinds of errors in thinking. I brought a lot of very fun activities for the kids to do with (and with some relief) without me.
Andrew’s smart mouth quickly won him hundreds of miserable miles.

It started before we left. I had asked Andrew to do something for me. Honestly, the original assignment may have come from his father. Either way, we asked him to finish it before we left. We told him that if he didn’t finish it, he would have PLENTY of time in the car to put effort into it.

He didn’t put in much effort before we left.

Once we departed, the smart mouth began. The hole he dug became deeper and deeper. Fortunately, I had also brought good quality activities for him to do that he didn’t like very much. Parenting can be ugly business.

We also had fun. Jay made bets with Andrew on how fast he could finish parts of his assignment (not ALL of his miles were miserable - just hundreds of them!). Gladys taught George how to read and write (or so it seemed from the front seat). We ticked off the states and found ALL of the license plates, including the large Canadian provinces.

This is the "Gateway to the West" on I-80 near Fort Kearney, Nebraska. I missed the Nebraska sign.

Our children travel remarkably well, especially once they realize they have no choice anyway. When traveling across northern Montana (later in the trip), we stopped for lunch around noon. Five hours later, Gladys mentioned that she was getting hungry.

“We just stopped,” Jay said with disbelief.

“We’ll find something soon,” I told Gladys, sure my husband was kidding.

He wasn’t. The kids had been so good and we had been having such a relaxing time enjoying the view and playing games, he seriously thought we had only just stopped.

Who has that much fun in the car?

Well after sunset, about 1200 miles into the trip, we found the best accommodations ever invented (in a “my glass is half-full” dollar-for-value kind of way).

Welcome to the 5-star Cenex Station in Western Nebraska.

They’ll leave the light on for you.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Epic Journey 2011

I like this picture because it is just as blurry as how I remember that first evening. We left around 5pm or so. Was it 5pm? It was raining. It wasn’t just a little, soft rain. It was the kind of rain that soaks you before you get in the car in your own driveway.

The kids and I were unusually ready for this trip. They have become helpful in a real way. They have always “helped” as little kids like to “help.” That kind of “help” makes mothers lose their mind. They are beginning to actually get the point. I realized this the morning we were leaving.

“Wear what you want to wear in the car,” I told them in my usual way. Gladys likes to dress appropriately. She asked me what she should wear today. She replied just as matter-of-factly as I spoke.

“Will I be wearing this for the next two or three days?”

“Maybe,” I answered back.

“Okay, Mommy.”

They remember. They remember different details than we do. Will they remember that for 23 days their parents put away the cell phones? What will they remember?