Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Traveling with a Toddler: The Roadtrip.

You never get out of the house on time.

So, once again we have been defeated by the genies of time.  Yes, even though I made the official leave time 9 a.m. for the family, knowing full well it’d more likely be noon, everything has once again conspired to make sure our final departure for vacation was delayed.

I was going to be all ahead of schedule, too.  I stayed up until 2 a.m. with Hunter, pulling out this and that, carefully packing, unpacking and repacking, making sure every item was accounted for.  Hunter’s never been on such a long trip before, and I wanted to make absolutely sure we had everything we needed. 

It’s a funny thing, preparing for travel.  When I do it, I manage to get everything I need into one smallish rolling bag that fits perfectly into the carry-on slot.  Yet now that we’re on the road we’re packed out -- a single bag for the hubster and for myself and five for her, plus the cooler and the dry goods box.  If we were in a car rather than a van, it’d be cramped.

There was everything in the world to do.  There was getting the stuff I needed to get done before we left -- the articles, the postings, that sort of stuff.  I had to make a run to the bank, the grocery store and the office.  There was the van to clean out and pack.  There was the house sitter to pass the keys to and the neighbors to talk with.  Which means it was far after noon when we finally locked the doors the last time (our third time back to the house!) and took off for our trip.

I decided to document how Hunter was doing along the way.

1:40 p.m.  Leave home for the final time and head out on the interstate.  Toddler is engaging, asking questions about the ocean and the sea shore.  You answer her questions.  She insists she does not need to use the potty.  You check.  She is dry.

2:12 p.m.  The child who never ever takes a nap any more crashes.  She will sleep for another two hours.  You count yourself lucky and spend the next couple of hours working on stuff on the computer while the spouse drives.

4:16 p.m.  You see a sign for a promising barbecue restaurant and turn off the highway.  Certain that she had to have needed to wet, you check her diaper and notice she’s still dry.  She eats corn on the cob and turns down the chocolate fried pie.  She also drinks half the large tea you and the spouse were sharing.

5:08 p.m.  Moments after you leave the restaurant, she starts hollering for her toy, which of course was left on the floor under the table in the restaurant.  You breathe a sigh of relief, happy your child realized the toy was left behind in time to retrieve it.

5:18 p.m.  She tosses the toy over the side of her carseat, no longer interested.  She asks for another toy.  You pull it out and she begins an extended dialogue.

5:46 p.m.  Three toys later, all over the far side of the carseat away from where you can reach it, the child fixates on a toy pony, which she emulates with a high-pitched whinnying for the next 22 minutes.  The spouse thinks it’s cute.

6:08 p.m.  The child starts asking “where is the Gulf of Mexico?”  You answer.  She asks again.  You answer again with a more complete answer.  She asks again.  The spouse answers this time.  She asks again.  He answers again.  The pattern continues for the next 17 miles.

6:28 p.m.  You ask her if she needs to use the potty.  She says no.  You check her diaper.  Still dry.  She asks for a juice box.  You worry about whether she’s dehydrated.

6:41 p.m.  She declares she’s tired of toys, throws the remaining toys over the side of the seat and asks for a book that you didn’t bring along. You breathe a sigh of relief.

7:23 p.m.  The spousal unit announces he’s looking for a place to pull over for a restroom break.  You suddenly hear a sigh from the child.

7:28 p.m.  You check her diaper after the spouse goes in for his restroom break.  You discover she’s finally let her bladder go.  Isn’t it amazing how much one of those diapers will hold?  Still, it’s not enough, and you find yourself wondering whether allowing her to walk into a convenience store in just her diaper and tennis shoes is acceptable.

7:35 p.m.  Back on the road, and she’s done with the magazine you hand her in two minutes.

7:37 p.m.  With the sun going down, you look for something to entertain your wide-awake child.  You find your MP3 player and hook it up with headphones, which she’s thrilled to put on.  You think you’ve set her up with Dr. Demento’s more child-friendly selections.

7:41 p.m.  You realize she’s been listening to The Doors.  Her poor eyes are starting to glaze over.  You worry you’ve sparked trouble that will come to fruition in her teenage years, when she decides to pick up and leave for France and the Beat scene.

7:56 p.m.  She starts singing along with Weird Al at an almost supersonic squeal.  You turn off the car radio because what’s the point?

8:19 p.m.  The girl child decides she’s no longer interested in music on the MP3 player, starts announcing “I want to go home!”  We’re allegedly 30 minutes from the hotel.

8:37 p.m.  The “I want to go home!” chorus is starting to get on your nerves.  It’s accompanied by massive amounts of whining.  You give her an Oreo, no longer worried about whether she’ll stay up all night.  After all, there’s a lock you think she can’t reach on the hotel door, right?  She could go bananas in there and you know you’ll be dead to the world.

8:43 p.m.  The chorus becomes so loud, you end up speeding past the turn-off for the hotel.  It’s another six miles before you find a place to turn around.

9:03 p.m.  After checking in, you load everything on a cart to take to the room.  She helps.  You are certain she’s going to have a drenched diaper waiting for you, but she’s bone dry.  Bonus -- she uses her potty the moment you set it down in the bathroom.

9:28 p.m.  Toddler and spouse head to the pool to cool off after the trip.  You unpack everything and relax, marveling on the trip, the fact that the chorus to go home ended the moment she saw the motel pool and that the beds at the hotel are decently sturdy and plush. 

10:34 p.m.  Once retrieved from the pool, child and spouse take a bath and prepare for bed.  It’s then you realize you forgot to pack pajamas for her.  She goes to sleep in one of your shirts -- in her own bed for once!  Unfortunately, she doesn’t actually go to sleep untl 1:40 a.m., but that’s for the spouse to handle.  Your day is done.

Tomorrow:  Taking Hunter to see the ocean.


  1. Your children are just adorable!

  2. I love reading about your trip. my daughter and my one year old grandson (first Grandbaby) are going to moody gardens this sauturday. spending one night at the moody gardens hotel, we are so excited!


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