Last Monday morning, my family embarked on a road trip from the NYC area to Florida. It was me, my husband and our two year old daughter in the car. Most of our friends think we are crazy for driving so far with a Toddler. Maybe we are a bit crazy. I truly believe that these experiences are what bind us, keep us as a loving family. It is hours and hours of being enclosed in a car – just us. I know, I know that most people would shudder at the thought. But I love it. I look forward to it.
So much of our lives revolves around communication and experience that is quickly followed by something else. I want my daughter to embrace the monotonous journey down the East Coast with a ease and creative spirit. We spent a lot of time singing along to Mary Poppins and The Jungle Book. We play games and tell stories. The Ipad doesn’t come out until later in the evening of if it is meltdown central. Even in the car, TV is a last resort.
I am so aware that someday soon she will want to do plenty of other things rather than hang out with us. I am soaking it all in while I have the chance. Road trips are great. They are not without their challenges and drama. This last one was met with horrific smelling gas and an imminent bought of diarrhea. We made it to South Carolina before the really icky stuff came our way. She was a trooper.
The toughest part is usually when we get to our hotel. We stop halfway or sometime a little further if we are lucky. She seems to perk up and find new strength right when Mummy & Daddy are finally able to sleep. Although it is annoying, it has provided us with some of the most hilarious memories of her running around a hotel room laughing hysterically at herself in full length mirrors. This time when we checked in, we used a bell hop’s cart to take our luggage up to the room and she got to ride along. It was like the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in the hotel! She waved and cheered and had the most wonderful time riding with our bags. Simple things. We have to unplug our phone in the room because she immediately gets on it to call someone. She finds pleasure in the littlest things and it is wonderful even late at night with 10 hours logged in on the road.
But in the morning it is back on the road. It is always a look of terror we have when 10 minutes down the road she wants to know how much longer. This time around, it was very hot and she was starting too get her bad belly. She was feverish and generally miserable. We stopped at a gas station and changed her diaper. A policeman came over on his motorbike and showed her the lights. He gave us a free coupon for a slurpee at 7-11. I was so grateful. Not because we couldn’t afford it, but because it was just the excitement she needed to get hydrated and take Tylenol. It was a gift from the heavens. Also because it gave me the excuse to get one for myself!
The last 8 or so hours of our drive, I spent cramped into the back seat against all the bags. My daughter was insistent that I sit right next to her. In the middle of the back seat with my legs on the center console. She wanted to hold hands and chat. It was terribly uncomfortable. I had sharp pains in my hips that eventually went numb. I was subjected to what felt like 24 hours straight of Peppa Pig. I survived on twizzlers, chips and a little pasta salad. The magic is when I look back on it all, I smile. I am reminded of the pats on my forearm, the stories, the giggles and the kisses.