Last weekend, I spent nearly 10 hours in the car to travel to and from Greenville, South Carolina to Savannah, Georgia. My father turns 65 in a few days, so my husband and I packed up our two boys, ages 3 and 11 months, and loaded the family truckster for a weekend of sugar and celebration. Ten hours of car riding in three days is a lot for little guys to handle, and they become restless and bored along the way. So, about halfway through each leg of the trip, I found myself crawling between two VERY large carseats in the back to help feed/entertain the boys. Along the way, I started to think about the products that I already possessed that made these tasks easier, and the ones that I wish had already been invented. I thought I’d share that list with you.
1. The in-car DVD system. Before I actually had children, I vowed never to own a car that had a DVD system for the back seat. When I was a kid, I had to entertain myself with books, crayons, and generally annoying my brother. Why couldn’t my kids make do with the same? Well, when we bought the family truckster, the DVD system came standard, so I didn’t have a choice. And, in the past three years, I have learned a very valuable lesson. While I may not be able to see anything on the screen from the front seat, the DVD system has NOTHING to do with the kids. It’s for the PARENTS! We still have restrictions on how much of the trip can be “TV time,” but I found myself very thankful for the DVD yesterday when we were stuck in traffic.
2. Child window locks. The 3-year old has a mischievous streak. Enough said.
3. Baby mirror. When angled correctly, a mirror hanging from the back seat can allow the baby and the driver to see each other, or the baby to see himself. Hours (okay, at least minutes) of fun, especially if you put a hat on the baby.
The Wish List
1. Automated “peek a boo” parent. My 11 month old is still sitting backwards, and he isn’t very interested in DVDs yet anyway, so he got very bored very quickly staring at the backseat. As a result, I spent a lot of my time hiding behind my hands/his hands/blankets/stuffed animals and playing peek-a-boo with him. It would be nice to have something that could do that for me, at least for a little bit. Because while I got a bit tired of that game, he never did. Don’t get me wrong – I loved playing with him for a little while, but by hour three, I was exhausted!
2. Extended trailer hitch changing table (with optional heater). Let’s face it. No parent wants to change his or her child in a rest area or fast food restaurant bathroom, even with those fold-out Koala tables. Gross. But with two kids and two adults, plus all of their stuff, there wasn’t any flat place in the car to change the baby, either. Plus, it was early March, and quite chilly–no person, baby or not, wants his bare rear end exposed to 40 degree weather! My solution? Some sort of table that extends from the car, flat and just big enough on which to change a baby. It would appear the same way as, say, automatic running boards that appear from the bottom of the car when it is turned off. Key feature? A heating element for those bare bottoms.
3. New York City cab-style impact-resistent glass divider between front and back seats. When you get two boys together, there is a reasonable chance of something flying from the backseat to the front seat, square into the back of Dad’s head, or rolling under Mom’s feet as she tries to pass that 18-wheeler. A nice optional feature would be soundproofing for meltdowns/temper tantrums that just cannot be quelled.
4. Teleporter. Beam me up, Scotty! A teleporter would really obviate the need for all of this other stuff. Simply load up the car, punch in a destination Delorean-style (yes, I am aware I am mixing pop culture references, thank you), and race toward the downed power line. Not only would this allow us to miss all the drama of the 10-hour trip, but it would have allowed us to spend more time with the birthday boy, my dad.
Yet, this wish item falls not at the top of my list, but the bottom. Some of my fondest memories, believe it or not, were on family trips when my brother and I were hostages in the back seat, forced to find our own fun and (gasp!) talk to my parents. In fact, we all reminisced about some of those trips this past weekend, laughing so hard we couldn’t breathe. I think they made my brother and I closer to our parents, and to each other. I hope that these trips do the same for my sons. Nevertheless, if you take away my DVD player, I may have to hurt you.