Stuck in the middle with you
ON THE WIDE OPEN ROAD I’M A STICKLER FOR STICKER TRUTH
I’D like to see a special “driving holiday” edition of those My Family stickers that are still appearing on the back windows of cars.
Truth In Stickering would show the dad, his whiteknuckled hands gripping the steering wheel as he stares grimly at the long road ahead, muttering: “For God’s sake, can you all just hold it together for another 15 minutes?”
The mum would have at least four more arms added, in order to simultaneously rummage for snacks, pass out drinks, wipe up a spill, change the CD, retrieve a dropped toy and massage her own temples.
One kid, shaded a pale green, would be slumped against their window moaning of imminent carsickness.
Another kid would be silently covering every interior surface within reach with dinosaur stickers.
The third kid would have a series of speech bubbles coming out of them, saying brightly: “Are we there yet?” “How many minutes?” “Where are we going again?” “Can we get ice creams?” and to her green sibling: “Do you feel like you really, really want to vomit?”
If there’s a dog, it would be weeing on the luggage.
I’d like to have these stickers on our car because, like many families, we are spending much of these school holidays in a vehicle and they pretty much sum up the situation inside (minus the dog, but that’d be one of the speech bubbles: “When are we getting a dog?”)
It’s true that conditions on long family drives have improved markedly since the invention of portable DVD screens — a convenient if mixed blessing.
(I feel selfishly torn about this, because while they make journeys so much easier I’m bitter that as children ourselves we didn’t have them, instead enduring countless hours of eye-gouging, character-forming boredom on outback road trips.)
A couple of years ago we drove halfway across the country with the youngsters wired to various audio/visual devices and headphones.
It was high summer too, so while the kids were facedown in screens we’d also hung towels inside their windows to protect from sunburn. It was like their own gold-class cinema back there, and blissfully peaceful for us up front.
Yet hardly one classic Australian landscape was gazed upon by our children on that bush Christmas road trip; barely an animal was spied from their darkened back seat pod.
Once, we adults spotted a family of emus somewhere near Hay. “Look kids, look — emu chicks! Oh … never mind.”
We felt a bit bad about that. And really, who needs parental guilt added to a car already overpacked with baggage?