By Js Kendrick
The point was driven home to me tonight in the most maddening way. Children should ride in the trunk.
Okay, so that may be a little drastic. I’m pretty sure it’s illegal in all 50 States, probably in all 196 countries in the world, well hopefully so, but, oh… sometimes…it’s a nice thought.
Tonight wasn’t horrible, it was just 75 miles. About an hour and some change drive from my house to my daughter Jenelle’s place. You see, every other weekend, my grandson BenBen comes to visit us. It’s fun, psychotic, and very loud at my house that weekend. He’s 4 years old, my daughter 9, my son 6. So, yeah, you can imagine. I dread rainy weekends more than the three of them do. Yet for all the craziness of the weekend, it’s the drive back that usually sticks out in my mind.
There is the usual comments from the three of them. He did this, she won’t give me that, can we stop at McDonald’s? No? Can we repeatedly pester you until you give in? You just passed McDonald’s, you know that don’t you? Could we turn back and … Oops! BenBen took a sip out of someones drink and holy bejesus! The world, in all its majestic glory, just ended.
I think the restraining harnesses have a lot to do with it. You know, seatbelts? Yeah, when I was a kid we didn’t use them. Speed limits were optional too. Parents smoked in cars with the windows up and A/C on. You had to crawl over the front seat to sit in mom’s lap to get a drink. And Dad? well he wouldn’t just threaten to pull over. He would gladly pull over to the side of the road. Just so mom could spank your butt if you did the slightest, yet some how terrible, infraction. Other parents driving by would point this out to keep theirs in line.
It was a different time of course.
Yet it was also a time when you carried your pillow and blanket with you on long trips. A time that you could lie down in the back seat of the car on those long rides knowing all was safe because mom and dad were in the front seat. You trusted them, and that warm fuzzy feeling of safety and security never leaves you, even when you are an old man like myself.
Today we strap our kids in. When they are babies, they could go to space in what we put them in, just add an oxygen mask and they are good to go. As they get older, well those Nascar seats are really cool, cup holders and all. Eventually they will be able to be in the normal seatbelts that adults use. Yet they are still restrained.
Which of course is a great idea. A really good thing when you think of it. If you’ve ever been in an accident, however slight, you know the importance of seatbelts. That and the importance of your mother’s arm flung across your chest when you’re old enough to sit in the front.
But even with the advent of seatbelts, the car seats, and baby seats, and yes, long before adults came to the conclusion that children, and adults, should probably be restrained less they get to practice being superman with very un-super results. There was the ancient dilemma of children.
Are we there yet? Or as mine put it, when are we going to be there? Even more modern. How long does take to get to so and so’s? What does it say on the phone? Sometimes it’s cute to hear them ask about what the phone says, or how many hours now. Then of course, when they ask you that same question 60 times an hour, you know the truth about this question. It becomes the grain of sand in that oyster of a brain of yours.
I am sure that on the first cart ride ever, used by parents to move their children, they too, heard that phrase. Are we there yet?
Along with their children bickering over who gets to read the stone tablet. No doubt the poor exacerbated parents had to look for the nearest tree so little stone age johnny and stone age jenny could go potty.
This year we traveled a lot. My wife’s family reunion was 6 hours away…according to google maps. Not that google maps is horrible, but they really need to add a “I have Children with me” button. Because 8 1/2 hours later we arrived at our destination. I think my wife and I jumped out of the car so fast people wondered if our pet leopard had gotten out of its cage. Close, but not exactly true. Two pet leopards, posing as our children.
The bickering is part of long drives, then the potty request, and of course the meal requests that generally revolved around a clown, or a king, or an old southern gentleman, and anything of a similar vein. Toys help, books to color and books to read. And thankfully in this modern age, electronic devices that can entertain for hours on end…or at least a good 15 minutes. Because in a car, time is an endless entity that can not be satiated by anything, but that most elusive thing … Destination.
Car rides are in a fact, boring. Especially long car rides. Especially car rides where you are strapped into a seat and have to endure your sibling in close proximity and do not have the option of running to your bedroom after you smack them for being taunted.
For me, a person who loves to drive, and actually picked it to be a career, I can not fathom why it is the end of the world. Then again, I’m a grown up. Also a weirdo, but that is truly beside the point. I used to drive a semi-tractor trailer all over. I used to go miles on end without stopping. Not once did my cargo tell me that this box was touching that box. Nor did the boxes complain that the pallets of wood they sat on were too hard. My cargo never talked back. Which I am very thankful for.
Children by nature are always on the move. They love to go about, explore and touch. It’s one of the joys of being a kid. Long car rides are contrary to their nature, so it’s only natural for them to get restless. Many adults get restless in long car rides. The one thing that separates children from adults in long trips is when we get home, take off our shoes after unpacking and have that ‘ah’ moment. We don’t turn to each other and say “Can we go back tomorrow?” Because as boring as the ride may be, as painful as it is to endure, that Destination was so much fun for the children that they want to do it all over again.