Road Trip


Last week the Embees drove to Los Angeles for a vacation. You may have seen us–we were the pasty white ones without botox. The drive was about seven hours each way, which is darned near miraculous time with a 3 1/2 year old in the backseat. Bladder Of Steel Sally only needed to stop a couple of times to use the restroom, we packed lots of snacks and toys, and for a couple hours we even had Awesome Auntie M in the car for entertainment. But really, we owe Sally’s incredibly patient, calm, happy road-trip behavior to one thing: The portable DVD player. Eight inches of full color, remote controlled love.

I was reluctant to purchase this wondrous item a couple of years ago. It seemed like cheating on a test. Road trips are supposed to push a kid to their behavioral limits. Growing up, our car entertainment consisted of reading, staring at fields out the window, and arguing with siblings. Whole wars have been waged over someone–or someone’s stuff–creeping over THE LINE on the car seat. And that was just in the middle of the minivan with my youngest sister. God only knows what criminal behavior ensued between our brother and sister in the Way Back.

Anyway, even with Sally lacking siblings to engage her in cruel and unusual punishment, when she was younger I thought she, too, should go through the incredible boredom that is driving all day. Until my parents heard this and looked at me like I was bonkers. Turns out they would have sprung for a TV in the car in a heartbeat if it had existed. So I caved. And it may be the thing I would save in a fire.

We only pull it out for super long trips and airplane flights–so that she remains a social user, not a full-on addict. Man, was it great. We brought upwards of two dozen DVDs, but she only cared about two: Princess and the Frog, and the three hours of Berenstain Bears the Mr. put on disc for her. I popped the DVD in, then sat back and enjoyed the ride. Sally was in heaven: Seven hours of parent-encouraged television viewing. What more could a kid ask for? All I needed to do was toss a few snacks to her and occasionally wipe the zombie-brain, movie-induced drool from her chin. I will need to be hypnotized to get the Berenstain Bears theme song out of my head, but it’s a small price to pay for a great vacation book-ended by lovely travel days. Thank you, Sony. I owe you my sanity this week.

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12 responses to “Road Trip

  1. I remember the day the portable TV/VCR entered our lives. My brother and I were about 8 and 10 years old and beginning another St Louis to Colorado road trip to ski. We’d made it about 15 minutes in the minivan, with fighting over THE LINE already begun, when my dad spun the car around and headed back home. I thought the trip was over, but instead he pulled into an electronics store and returned with a TV/VCR that plugged into the cigarette adaptor and a half-dozen kid-appropriate videos. It is still the best purchase my parents ever made in keeping their marriage and sanity entact!

  2. Pop/Grandfather

    When considering the use of technology in child-rearing, one must always think: Was “natural baby” meant to spend several hours, being bored (or be trapped with evil siblings) in a small steel piece of technology (car)…while being strapped to a seat (and unable to even shift a little)…? So, using a little tech (no drugs…really) to ease everyone’s stress seems okay!

  3. Oh, your mention of THE LINE brings back memories. Really though, this post made me want to get in the minivan with my 2 year old, pop in a video (with headset of course), and drive for 7 hours straight just to get some peace and quiet!

  4. How is it that everyone who has siblings used THE LINE on road trips. It must be part of our genetics…

  5. I fell in love with the DVD player. I didn’t even mind that it was Berenstain Bears, it was just awesome being in a car AND watching t.v.

  6. Pingback: Road Trip With the Kids? Take this stuff with you when you go. « the slynch

  7. I need to get one of those although my kids do pretty well on road trips. It seems it would make those trips just a little smoother. You have hit Nirvana!

  8. Lol. Your writing cracks me up. Thanks for that.

    Not a Mommy just yet, but I will definitely be bookmarking this site for future reference – and laughter!

  9. We bought our last family car just prior to the birth of our second child, 4 1/2 years ago. I distinctly remember this process because I gave serious consideration to the built-in DVD player and opted against it for the very same reasons you listed here. I thought, “Kids today are so stimulated…TV, video games, movies. MY children will use family trips to come up for air. Take a good, long, appreciative look at the world around them. Count cows. Or something.” Well, I must have been hitting the pipe a little too hard that day. You’re so right: portable DVD player+snacks = the most quiet time Mommy will have until the trip home. Great post 🙂

  10. middleagedcrazywoman

    “All I needed to do was toss a few snacks to her and occasionally wipe the zombie-brain, movie-induced drool from her chin.”

    ohmygawdohmygawdohmygawd… I’ve lived this!!! Thank gawd it’s not just my kids on a 9 hour trip to northern NB!! I rememeber all the car fights my sister and I got into and thank the people who invented car dvd players!

    2 kinds, 9 hours, nothing to look at … that’s just BEGGING for me to yell “Do I have to stop the car and come back there?” And I never could get my mom’s tone quite right! 🙂

  11. Really great post. Really..

  12. You’ve done it once more. Amazing post.

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