Clark Griswold: “Roy… can I call you Roy? Have you even driven cross-country?”
Roy Walley: “Oh, hell yes. Drove the whole family to Florida. Worst two weeks I ever spent in my life. The smell from the back seat was terrible.”
Clark Griswold: “Ooooh. Ooooh, I know that smell. Roy, could you imagine if you had driven all the way to Florida and it was closed?”
Roy Walley: “Closed? Uh, they don’t close Florida.”
A hilarious exchange from one of the greatest movies of all time, National Lampoon’s Vacation, touches on one of the biggest challenges of a family road trip – the back seat.
When taking these road trips I would say 95% of the time I drive. Often we take the kids to NJ (where I grew up) to visit family, but something strange happened on our latest trip. Something I wasn’t expecting and something I thought was going to work out in my favor, but in reality this something turned out to be my ruin.
That something was my wife insisting on driving.
Wrong, wrong, and completely wrong.
Remember the video game Breakout from back in the day? Bunch of bricks at the top of the screen, you are a movable paddle at the bottom and there is a crazy ball in the middle used for breaking said bricks? As an added bonus, not only did this ball speed up as time went on, but if you let it drop past your paddle you would lose a life. Three lives only.
This is what it was like managing our kids on this road trip. Starring the kids as the bricks, me as the paddle and snacks, drinks and DVDs as the balls.
I was strong out of the gates and breaking bricks like it was my job (it was). A DVD for the 4-year-old *smash* and a toy phone for the 19-month-old *smash* got us out of town and onto the highway without incident. Unlike my oldest son, a boy who never slept in the car – and I mean never – the little one doesn’t stand a chance once we get over 40mph. So it wasn’t long before he had his thumb in his mouth and was off in la-la land *smash* as the oldest was engrossed in his movie.
“This ride is going to be easy,” I thought.
I survived a little bit longer. I found some good 80s tunes for us to listen to on the ride down *smash*, I got in a few tweets obviously *smash* and even kept a watchful eye for the 4-year-old’s hand creeping towards the sleeping baby *smash*.
But this is the part where the ball speeds up. “Daddy can I have a snack?”
“What would you like?” I asked.
“Uhhhhhmm…do we haaaavee? Uhhhhhh… “
It’s the event of the snack really, not the snack itself if you really get right down to it.
“Okay, let me look through the bag and see what I can dig up.”
Not 5 seconds later…
“Daddy I think the monster is up.” (I love this monster more than I can even put into words by the way)
“Sounds about right,” I said. Lose one life.
But, it wasn’t long before I was back breaking bricks. Cheese sticks all round was my initial salvo *smash*, followed quickly by milk and water *smash* and some cereal bars after that *smash*.
But they kept coming. More daddy, more daddy, daddy we want more. This dropped and can you pick it up for me? Requests of “uppy? uppy?” and can you open my window came at me all at once. “What number highway are we on?” was asked again and again. Lose two lives.
But I rallied. It’s what we do. And it wasn’t long before #2 was sleeping again and #1 was onto a 2nd DVD. Peace was mine, the 90s were now going to be mine and I think the traffic just started to ease up actually…
“Eye? Eye. Eyes!”
In short, the baby decided he was going to be half asleep and that his eyes were going to bother him. Funny to say now, but at the time I had no idea what was going on. Images of The Happening were flying through my head crossed with a resurgence of pink eye from 2 weeks earlier. The latter considered the most likeliest, the former because we watched a part of that movie last Sunday.
Pulling off the highway was required and he needed to be taken out of his seat to get settled, but the long and short of it was he just came out of his nap hard. Real hard.
Lose three lives. Game over.
I realize now that my wife tricked me.
I’m driving next time.