37 miles of 'Hola Lola': Memories of a family road trip
The family road trip has been the joy and undoing of many parents. With the long hours of driving coupled with children's short attention span, parents are extremely vulnerable.
I am a firm believer in the squabble stop. For the uninitiated, a squabble stop is a timeout due to squabbling in the car. And, in order to maintain its efficacy, it must happen immediately. Which is why, somewhere north of Thousand Oaks, Calif., on Interstate 5, we stopped. Not right in the midst of a lane, of course, but on the side of the freeway.Skip to next paragraph
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The infraction? My 10-year-old son, feeling drowsy, had rested his head on top of his seven-year-old sister's toy box. This heinous crime caused a great deal of shrieking, at which point I pulled over. I have a no fighting rule in the car. You think texting is a distraction? Try concentrating on the road with three screaming kids in the back. So we pulled over.
Where, you might ask, was my husband in all of this? Back home. That’s right. I took our kids on a family road trip without Daddy. Lest you think that we have marital troubles, the road trip was our way to get from our home to overnight camp in northern California. My husband's job didn’t allow for him to take off for that length of time, so I did what any good wife would do – I left him behind. Crazy, though, I am not. So I brought a mother's helper along to better my chances at child-wrangling.
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There was a lot of driving on this trip – 514 miles. One day, we covered over 266 miles. It was 266 miles of are-we-there-yets? and I can't take it anymores. I think there was some lovely scenery too.
And then, appearing on the horizon like a mirage, our hotel. Thank God, because all any of us wanted to do at that point was get to the pool. (Actually, after 266 miles with my kvetchy kids, what I really wanted was the bar. But it wasn’t even 3:00 in the afternoon. And it didn’t seem right to stick the sitter with all three kids.)
When did I become the parent, responsible for driving and making reservations? How did this happen? Wasn’t I just piled in the back of the station wagon with my sister and brothers? And not much has changed. All we cared about was staying in a hotel with a pool. And HBO. One summer, we saw Grease 2 every single day of our vacation. Every. Single. Day.