Half of the drivers on the 95 corridor between Virginia and New Jersey have seen my butt. I’m not proud of it, however any mother who has travelled “shotgun” with their family when small children are involved, knows that you spend half the time turned around hanging over the back of your seat. I know it is dangerous, bad form, and particularly disturbing to other drivers on the road (well if you have my butt it is), but how in the world are you supposed to get from point A to point B, if it takes more than five minutes to get from point A to point B, without being turned around interacting with the children. I used to travel with a dozen pacifiers but still remember that sick, sick sound of the last available “binkie” falling between the baby’s car seat and the truck door.
“Just reach back there and get it” my husband would offer, as he zoomed down 95 at 75 miles per hour.
I’d sigh, turn around, reach my arm through the small clearing I had between the door and my seat, extend my fingers beyond the skin of my fingertips and sweat from trying to touch just the end of the binkie. Straining and stretching, wiggling and pushing, I’d finally get my middle fingertip and my index fingertip just around the top of the little pacifier ring. Now red faced with leather seat burns on my cheek from pushing into the headrest, I’d slowly coax the binkie onto my knuckle and then with a squeal of delight I‘d pull up the binkie as if it I’d just found a pearl in an oyster. Not once did one of the twelve binkies I carried with me fall toward the center of the truck; where I could just reach down and grab it.
I don’t know how many times I’d sit backwards for 20 minutes holding a bottle, leaning over the back of my seat to reach the baby’s seat, which oh by the way was turned around and buckled backwards FOR THEIR SAFETY. How many times had I stuck the bottle in their noses, or eyes; pretty much anywhere but their mouths because they were screaming at the tops of their lungs and we’d just stopped for a potty break 10 minutes before. The older ones would sit there coaxing:
“Higher mom, ew no, lower, up just little…ah…got it mom”.
As the boys got older, and undaunted by the damage the bottle nipple had done in their infancy, I’ve taken them on many, many trips without my husband. Probably my most challenging adventure was coming home with the four boys, then ages nine, seven, five and 3 and a half, all the way from Orlando, Florida. My husband had to stay for business so I thought no problem; I can drive the boys (and the two full sized boxers) home in about 14 hours.
When we went to sleep the night before our return trip home; I told the boys we’d be leaving by 5:30 the next morning: and we did. I told the boys we’d be stopping three times; once in the morning for a break, once in the afternoon for lunch, and once in the late afternoon for a break: and we did. By about 7 pm that night we were on track and only 17 miles from home when my 3 year old said:
“Mommy, I have to go to the bathroom.”
Are you kidding me? Did he think he was really going to impact my trip plan? We were supposed to be eating dinner at home by 7:30 that night.
“Pee in the cup honey.” I instructed.
“Really?” he asked, as the other boys perked up at the thought of something new and exciting occurring during the truck ride from hell.
“Yes, just stand up, take the cup from lunch and pee into it.” I outlined.
“Okay,” he giggled.
By now all the boys were laughing and straining to watch their brother do something they all agreed was VERY COOL.
“Good job” we all pronounced when the little guy was done.
Now, I had a cup of pee to deal with.
“No problem.” I thought as I rolled down my window.
I was a political science major in college. I was not an aerodynamics engineer major. I did not once think about the logical result of attempting to pour pee out of an SUV doing 75 miles per hour heading up 95 North. I didn’t even consider the “you don’t spit into the wind” advice passed down through the ages.
Before I knew it, my entire arm was covered in pee, the boys in the back seat, who unfortunately also had their window rolled down, were screaming like there was no tomorrow, and the entire cup of pee was now emptied right back into my SUV. The only ones thinking this whole incident was the least bit fun at this point were the dogs; who were pretty sure they smelled WONDERFUL.
Now the boys have learned to tell me well in advance when they have to pee. They don’t like to drink in the truck for fear that the urge will hit them when we are in an area where I’m not comfortable stopping and not one of them is interested in repeating history.
I have learned that schedules; while important with children, really must stay flexible enough to include Mother Nature. I’ve also learned to bring an extra shirt when we travel because I am who I am, and a schedule IS a schedule.
Parenting Tip of the Day:
One of the things I carry in the truck to keep the boys from fighting is a book. When they start rough housing or yelling, I stop the truck somewhere safe; pull out my book and start to read. When they quiet down, knowing that I won’t drive again until they do, I read an additional two minutes while they sit there anxious that they’re not going to be on time for one of their events or will be two minutes later getting to wherever we are heading. It is very effective and drives them nuts. How satisfyingly effective is THAT.