8 Hours in the Car with a Toddler & 2 Dogs
We take a lot of road trips. A lot. We have no family in our area so about 8 times a year I load up the car with the kids and dog to drive 8 to 20 hours. And I do it alone. Yes, you read that right. Me. Two children. One dog. 8 to 20 hours of driving.
When my son was small I liked to document the drives because I found them so amusing. (Less amusing while I was in the thick of it but highly amusing once the trip was over.) It was just him because his sister hadn’t arrived yet. We had two dogs though lest you think that it would be easy. This is the story of one of those trips.
I loaded up the car with my 2 1/2 year old son and our two cocker spaniels for an 8 hour drive to visit my family. In the past I’ve started the drive at 4 am (ick) because leaving at that hour encourages my son to sleep. More sleep means a more peaceful drive and less little feet kicking the back of my seat.
He’s older now (and mama was tired) so I made the call to wait until 8:00 to begin the trip.
8:00 Yes, it really was 8 on the dot. I am nothing if not punctual. We stopped to get gas. Unfortunately the handle was stuck so it sprayed the second I pulled it out of the pump. Excellent way to start.
8:11 No morning is complete without coffee. (So says the woman with the Starbucks addiction.) I order a white mocha for me and a chocolate milk for my little friend. He is insistent that I have a chocolate milk too. I do not. He takes a sip from his straw and proclaims “I love it!” as if this is the very first time he’s had one. I love his enthusiasm. I feel exactly the same way about my coffee. We also have blueberry muffins. I am fully aware that my son’s will be crumbled into teeny tiny pieces and scattered all over the back of the car.
8:12 My toddler announces “Wrigley looked at me”. Apparently this is a problem. Wrigley is a cocker spaniel. The nerve of that dog.
8:15 We’re on the road. Hallelujah. My buddy celebrates by making monkey noises. He sees that I’m wearing my sunglasses and needs his ‘sungaggies’ too. Naturally these are not in a convenient location. I contort myself like Gumby until I finally reach them and can pass them to the backseat.
8:20 “I can’t see, Mommy!” His sunglasses are on his chin. I explain this. He responds with “They doesn’t work”. Hard to argue with that.
8:27 Up to this point Wrigley and Lola (our other cocker spaniel) have been sitting separately on either side of my son’s car seat. Lola decides she’s over that and joins Wrigley in his space. This is not well received. It’s a small space for two thirty pound pups. Chaos ensues resulting in me accidentally clothes-lining Wrigley when he tries to join me up front. He gets the remainder of my muffin as an apology.
9:16 My son is falling asleep. This is the moment I realize I have to pee.
9:27 He’s out. Radio time for mama.
10:30 I start contemplating lunch. Is 10:30 too early? My stomach assures me it’s not. I decide to wait until my guy wakes up anyway.
11:00 I can wait no longer. I really need a bathroom stop. We pull into a Subway and I wake up my son. He refuses to stand on his own in the bathroom so I end up holding him in my lap while I pee. This strikes me as all kinds of wrong. As in one-day-he’ll-discuss-this-in-therapy wrong.
11:06 Subway was a challenge. The high school kid who rings up my order says I can’t get a yogurt with the kids meal as it only comes with apples. Well that’s not going to work because my son really wants a yogurt and I’ve already told him he can have it. My bad. I explain that I’d like to pay the difference between the apples and the yogurt. The cashier looks to the other high school kid for guidance and is told he can’t do it but to check with the manager. He disappears behind the wall to discuss with the manager. (Seriously. Behind a wall. Am I buying a car or a sandwich?) He returns and proclaims he’s been told no. I am working up to a pretty good mad at this point. I don’t know if it’s the fact that I’m being told no by a 17 year old or if it’s that the Great and Powerful Oz (one can only assume this is who wields power behind the wall) sent the 17 year old out to do his dirty work while he hides in his little Subway office. I tell him I am not taking those apples with me and I’ll be taking a yogurt. They can charge me what they want but that yogurt is coming with me. They oblige and are sufficiently frightened. I don’t take a receipt because I’m afraid reading it will set me off. Better not to know what that yogurt cost me.
11:21 We’re back on the road and eating our lunch. My son eats one bite of yogurt and says he doesn’t want any more. He wants apples. Does this surprise you? If it does then you don’t have small children.
11:30 I decide it would be fun to teach my son how to do a knock knock joke. It doesn’t go as I was envisioning. He starts telling me to “Go away, Mommy”. We’re in that fun phase. I let him know that it hurts my feelings and if he keeps saying to go away then I’ll just turn on the music. He considers my threat and responds with “Go away, music”. I really should have seen that coming.
11:34 “Mommy, I have a poo poo! It’s a big one. No, a little one. No, big.” He’s studying something on his hand. I pray (hard) that it’s not poop. “Yucky. It’s sand.” It’s probably ground up crackers from his car seat. Crisis averted.
11:40 I pull over and change his diaper in the backseat. The dogs are very interested in it’s contents.
11:50 It’s movie time. My son watches a few Max & Ruby episodes. Where are these kids’ parents?
12:30 He declares he’s done and will watch the rest at Papa’s house. We eat dried bananas and pineapple.
12:40 I’m getting stir crazy so we stop for gas and another potty break. My buddy’s diaper has proven ineffective and his pants are soaked. We do a quick pants change in the car.
1:01 Back on the road. My guy is eating wheat thins. He tells me he needs more. I can see he’s holding a stack of crackers in one hand. “No, I need crackers in that hand.” Ah-ha. Both hands must have wheat thins.
1:09 He has one cracker in each hand and he’s narrating a conversation between the two. “Hello, my name is Cracker. What your name?” And then my favorite: “Ding dong. You there?” I think this is a variation of my knock knock joke. So apparently I did teach him something. We’ll call that a victory.
1:20 Max & Ruby again.
1:46 No more Max & Ruby. I debate stopping at Sonic out of boredom. I ask if he wants to stop for a snack. He says “Papa has snacks at his house”. Way to talk some sense into me, son. We don’t stop.
1:53 He picks at his toe nails and makes a variety of boy noises.
2:10 “Mommy, I tickle Wrigley!” It looks more like kicking to me.
2:25 My guy: “Ding Dong.”
Me: “Who’s there?”
My guy: “Open the door.”
I’m counting this as more knock knock joke progress.
2:59 He’s munching on dried bananas again. He loads up his mouth and tries to chew but there are too many in there. He spits them out in my hand while I’m driving. I’m a genius and threw out our garbage bag at the gas station and never replaced it. I’m also out of paper towels. I dump the rejected food into the bag that contains our perfectly good snacks for the trip. I’m going to love cleaning this out later.
3:04 This time he spits crackers out in my hand. While I’m trying to wipe the slime off me (on a spare pair of pants I had packed for him because, again, I am out of paper towels) he moans that he has a mess on his shirt.
3:15 We have a fascinating discussion about hair color and whether the car has hair. He believes it does. I’m willing to concede that the fabric on the inside of the door is hair-like.
3:28 “Mommy, help me! I’m stuck. I eat my shirt. I need help.”
4:06 We arrive. The inside of the car looks like a grocery store exploded. My parents come out to the car to greet us. They are officially on child care duty until dinner.