Traveling with Kids

The Are We There Yet Blues?

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By Dixie Brunner

It’s the American dream. You work hard all year for vacation with the ‘fam.’ But said dream is often a mixed blessing. Vacations are meant to be low-stress and relaxing. Anyone spending seven days, 24/7 with their kids, or spouse for that matter, know there’s little relaxation involved. Basically, you’re shut in a small, metal cylinder (if you fly), or enclosed in a wheeled box (if you drive), with people you don’t normally spend time with. You’re strangers, and the first days present an awkward, get-reacquainted period. “Mom, are we there yet?” A fingernails-on-the-chalkboard voice whines. “No honey.” “How much farther?” “One mile less than the last time you asked.” “When will we get there?” “Not soon enough,” mutters mom under breath. **** “So Bryan,” dad says to son in back seat,”How do you like middle school?” “What dad? I can’t hear you,” responds kid with earbuds on. “I’m listening to my music.” “I said,” dad shouts,“how do you like middle school?” “It was fine, dad. But I’m a sophomore in high school now.” Another problem somewhat exclusive to younger, car-traveling children – their plumbing works overtime! It’s akin to Pavlov’s dogs. Kids placed in a vehicle, instead of salivating, must use the restroom. Keys in the ignition provide a weird bladder trigger. “I’ve gotta go to the bathroom.” “You just went five miles ago.” “But I really have to.” “You don’t need to go again. Try to hold it.” “I’m going to have an accident if you don’t stop.” Show me a parent who can call their bluff, and I’ll show you one with more fortitude than I possess. **** My husband and I raised four sons, and the long-standing feud traveling was who got to drive and who had to be car sheriff. Rough terrain and hairpin curves are nothing compared to keeping law and order in the family vacation vehicle! “Mom, Matt’s looking mean at me,” says the youngest. “Don’t look at him Matt,” I chastise. “Well he’s on my half of the seat,” defends son. “Stay on your own side,” I lecture in monotone. “I am, he’s got a part of his foot on my side of the line.” Space is key to maintaining travel tranquility. Squished together on a cross-country trip tries patience. My husband always packed the van to capacity, and then added his golf clubs! “Honey, I think you’ll have to leave the clubs behind this time,” I comment, watching as he packs, crams and shoves an inordinate amount of things into the small travel space. “No way,” he answers with determination. “Andy, how would you like to ride up on the luggage rack? You’ll be able to see a lot more.” Most will defend the family vacation to the end. They provide a special time to be with the people you love. You can enjoy good conversation and activities you wouldn’t normally get the opportunity to have together. It’s a time to make each family member feel loved and needed. “Mom, we forgot Kyle back at that last gas station,” announces brother happily. “We could just leave him, he’s been a real jerk.” Family vacations are what memories are made of.

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Kids get to stretch their legs and check out this cool arch. Photo by Tyler Cornell.

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