Road trips with kids not for the faint of heart

Long hours cooped up in a ve­hi­cle will test the met­tle of all fam­ily mem­bers

Regina Leader-Post - - OPINION - DAWN DUMONT

In Saskatchewan, we are ap­proach­ing the hol­i­day sea­son, also known as the road trip sea­son, as we all make our way to visit those rel­a­tives that we have cho­sen to live four hours away from.

If you have chil­dren, you need to have a road trip plan. Kids are killers. And in an en­closed space, they will de­stroy your de­sire to live in a very short time. And short of buy­ing each child an in­di­vid­ual cage for trans­port (prob­a­bly il­le­gal), par­ents buy stuff to dis­tract their young ’uns from tear­ing the ve­hi­cle apart from the in­sid­e­out.

Ide­ally, you must have a back seat en­ter­tain­ment cen­tre and wire­less in­ter­net ac­cess. While par­ents are os­ten­si­bly hav­ing a civ­i­lized con­ver­sa­tion in the front seats (but re­ally just ar­gu­ing about who is lazier), kids can re­lax by play­ing vi­o­lent video games.

And if the kids can’t agree on a game, then par­ents can pull out the iPad, which I be­lieve comes in­cluded with ev­ery live birth.

But today’s kids are miss­ing out — a road trip is not about dis­tract­ing your­self from the te­dium of trav­el­ling; it’s about learn­ing to en­joy the te­dium of travel.

My fam­ily has al­ways trav­elled. Whether it’s vis­it­ing fam­ily in south­ern Saskatchewan or north­ern Man­i­toba or mak­ing the tra­di­tional prairie pil­grim­age to the Ed­mon­ton wa­ter­slide park, we have been on the road.

We didn’t have money for fancy ex­tras like DVD play­ers, we barely had money for lux­u­ries like gas. How then did we en­ter­tain our­selves?

This is where a child’s in­ge­nu­ity kicks in. We started our trip play­ing, Let’s Make Some­one Cry. To play, you need at least two play­ers and one vic­tim. The play­ers must bom­bard the vic­tim with teas­ing un­til the vic­tim breaks down in a flood of tears. The more tears, the bet­ter the game. The great thing about this game is you never know when you’re gonna be a player or a vic­tim.

Af­ter a suc­cess­ful round of LMSC, my mom would shout us into sub­mis­sion. Now it was sto­ry­telling time. Dur­ing this time, mom would ex­plain the world to us, mix­ing her knowl­edge with what she re­ferred to as “colour” but which I have learned was re­ally ut­ter non­sense. There was only one rule dur­ing sto­ry­telling time: Don’t in­ter­rupt mom with pesky facts.

I en­joyed these times. How else would I have learned that the flu vac­cine causes flu epi­demics be­cause sci­en­tists get paid per per­son who gets sick and that the only sci­en­tists that you can trust are cig­a­rette sci­en­tists be­cause at least they ain’t ly­ing to you?

When mom ran out of the­o­ries, it was then mu­sic ap­pre­ci­a­tion time. Now for those of you who love mu­sic and have thou­sands of songs play­ing on your phone (it felt so weird typ­ing that — our phones are se­ri­ously amaz­ing), this may be tough for you to grasp.

Once upon a time, peo­ple played these things called cas­settes and peo­ple like my mom usu­ally owned about one at a time. On one trip, my mom played the same tape for six hours. It was Don Wil­liams.

I lis­tened to that cas­sette for so long that I ac­tu­ally felt those songs im­printed into my brain. Es­pe­cially that song Amanda be­cause their re­la­tion­ship seemed so need­lessly com­pli­cated. He’s singing about how Amanda should be a “gen­tle­man’s wife” and not with some guy over 30 wear­ing jeans. To my 10-years-old self, the so­lu­tion was clear: Buy some slacks or khakis, maybe even a pair of cargo shorts? To my adult self: If you’re over 30 and you can still fit into jeans, you’re do­ing some­thing right.

Af­ter mu­sic time, came the event­ful Spot the Moose hours. Back then, moose seemed to be around ev­ery corner.

In fact, on one night, they lit­er­ally were around ev­ery corner.

Our lights flashed on them stand­ing on the side of the road; these mod­ern day di­nosaurs star­ing down at the tiny car filled with kids and blar­ing Don Wil­liams. I’m sure they were think­ing the same thing we were, “Who the hell is Amanda and what’s her prob­lem with jeans?”

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