I am the oldest of five girls. I remember taking many road trips with the family when we were younger. Actually, any place we went, be it the grocery store or a scenic drive could be categorized into the memory bank of “road trips.” One thing was guaranteed about all trips we took: we would scream and fight the whole way. My mom would bring Wee-Sing cassettes to play (those God-awful tunes are STILL in my head to this day), and my dad would pull out his hair trying to get us to stop fighting and screaming at each other. I never could figure out why our poor parents wanted to drive anywhere with us!
There was one vacation in particular that really stands out in my mind. I believe there were all five of us kids at that point, and I was no older than 10 or 11. We had this huge van that was as ugly as it was big. It could haul a dozen families and still have room for junk to get tossed around in. It was also old. At the time we decided to take this family getaway from Houston, Texas to somewhere freezing and snowy in Colorado, the van needed to be jumped almost every time it was turned on.
Now the great state of Texas is very large. A non-stop drive to Colorado would take someone a day. How long did it take us? Three days. Three days of bliss on the highway. Three days needing a jump when we turned off the car. At least one night of no vacant hotels and camping miserably inside the van. And of course, three days of sibling screaming and bickering.
My mom had just bought scrapbooks for me and my sister closest in age to me. I could not wait to fill it up with Colorado road trip paraphernalia! But my third sister got car sick and barfed all over the cover. I was irate, devastated and ready to pull all her beautiful curls out. But my dad told me about his Crosby Stills Nash and Young record he had when he was in college. Beautiful, new, perfect. But along came his cat and pooped right on the center of the album cover. He promised me that I would always remember that trip and that scrapbook (and for him, that cat!) because of it’s unintended first entry. I still have the scrapbook to this day, and yes, you can still see the spot where I cleaned off my beloved sister’s vomit. Ahh, memories!
Now I am a parent of five children and I cart them around all over town, and sometimes from city to city. I used to brag about how well they traveled, but I guess pride really does cometh before the fall. They antagonize each other. Grab blankies, throw toys, scream, whine, complain that everything takes so long, think that every fast food place we pass means they must eat NOW. The 3-year old picks his nose and eats it. The 8-year old asks me endless questions about who plays who in the movies from the way back seat where I could not hear him even if he screamed. The baby makes shrill noises now just so he doesn’t get forgotten. And well, every trip in the car has now become a road trip.
When we make the trek out to my parents’ ranch house 5.5 hours away, it takes us between 7 and 9 hours. We stop at least a dozen times. You know the drill: 4 will have to pee, but the one refuses…. until we have passed all signs of life. Then it is an emergency that he/she go RIGHT NOW. The constant hunger even though they just ate, and ate before that, and ate and snacked and ate some more. Ahh, yes… we are making memories. I am screaming and throwing my hand behind me to get them to stop fighting, to no avail. We try to play little games in the car like “I spy a cow,” but that never lasts long… When the questions and fighting and noise gets a little too much, I add in my own noise – my CD’s. And no, I don’t play Wee-Sing. That stuff never EVER leaves your brain.
But eventually we make it to our destination and I am literally kissing the ground when we get out.
Of course, I know this will not last. Already, my almost 12 year old has precious little to say. Too soon will my car be quiet… so for all the noise and frustration and hair loss I may experience, it is worth the poop and vomit that make those memories oh so precious!