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.