I have heard people say that long car rides will lead to the creation of “fond family memories.” Of course, I listen to that with great disbelief since I see long car rides with multiple kids as leading to nothing but chaos and stress.
Every time I think about planning a long car ride with my five kids, I become riddled with anxiety. If past behaviors actually are good predictors of present behaviors, then I may need to be medicated before we take another long trip.
I have kids who can’t make it fifty feet down the road before they start saying “I want to sit there,’ “ I want Mom’s phone,” “Why do I have to sit in a car seat?” “I don’t want him next to me’, “He is touching me,” “He‘s hitting me,” “He won’t share,” and on and on it goes. It is mind blowing to think about how much verbiage can occur in 30 seconds or less. And then there is the bladder factor; whenever we take a long trip, somehow my children’s normal size bladders shrink down to the size of a pea.
We took a trip to Washington D.C, a few years ago, which resulted in 17 pit stops, 45 arguments, and God know how many spills. By the 18th request of someone “needing to go,” and with my adolescent daughter doing nothing but rolling her eyes, I knew I had to act quickly or things were going to get ugly.
Trying to be resourceful, I pulled out an empty soda bottle; and I figured this was as good a place as any… We slowed down just enough to prevent a horrible mess. My 7 year old, braced himself against the front seat and began “relieving” himself into the empty container as if he were giving a urine specimen. Social etiquette, modesty, and child safety had taken a back seat to my maintaining my sanity.
Since I have a specialty in child health psychology, one would think I would be armed with all sorts of effective parenting strategies, but, sadly, there doesn’t seem to have been much carryover between my clinical side and my parenting side . In instances such as this, I am simply a frustrated, over reactive parent, with no ability to cope.
Thinking about going on another 500-mile trip seems less than desirable to me at this point, to say the least. Next time it will only be worse because there will be a dog added to the mix – a dog who also happens to have a very small bladder.
I know one thing. Before we even back out of the garage, we will have a plan. Short of putting tranquilizers in my kid’s juice boxes, I will have a list of effective strategies so that we can make it from point A to Point B without my completely losing it.