Posted by: deadmousediaries | April 3, 2013

Roadtrip! Everybody Have Their Everything? – Travelling with Mitchell Kyd

Everybody have their everything? For years that has been the battle cry as we slammed the van doors shut for the final time before heading out the driveway for a family road trip. We have put a lot of miles on our butts over the years on those family trips to the beach and Disney not to mention Punxsutawney and even upper Orbisonia the year we went to see the mastodon bones.
   Time passes and here we are, about to embark on our first road trip to see our kid as he graduates from boot camp and I’m not sure what to expect. I can only rely on history.
   We made three trips to Florida with two toddlers in tow, locked and loaded in matching car seats. Those were happy days when a road trip meant juice boxes and crayons. To pass the time, there was reading out loud and word games and then books on tape for the hours when the reader was too hoarse and bleary- eyed to pluck another single sentence off the page. We made the the mile markers dissolve into a blur by car counting and punch bug and holding our breath in tunnels and under bridges.
   Our cars were always crammed with inflatable giraffes and leftover sand from the last vacation. If the scenery was good while the kids slept, the radio faded in and out and we rarely ever noticed it was playing only static in the great stretches of the in-betweens. All the while, we stayed mostly on course without GPS or Goggle maps because our jumble of maps was safely wedged between the seats with the gum wrappers and french fries. (Travel tip: the best way to refold a road map is differently.)
   I’ve talked to a lot of parents who’ve done their own road trips with their kids; most can only recount their horror stories. There must be something wrong with me, even if it’s only a memory lapse. I remember all the good stuff: air conditioning off and windows open, belting out endless repetitions of I Know a Song That Gets on Everybody’s Nerves and finding wrong turns were really serendipitous side trips.
   What some might call disasters, we think of as our stories like the year I had to take a major work project with me on vacation. In the stress of finishing a Homeric writing assignment, I lost the entire Mitchell family fortune; I sent $1,000 worth of travelers checks into the trash compactor at our lovely beach front cottage. (We lost our four-year-old at Disney that same year but that’s a story for another day. And, oh, there was another time when I dropped the rental car keys down the hotel elevator shaft but that was barely an inconvenience by comparison.)
   All of our great vacations have always begun with a list and I pride myself on being an excellent list maker. As much as I hate riding herd over life’s tiny details for the most part, I love making vacation lists. For starters, it expands the joy of the trip by setting that anticipation on a long, slow simmer. List making gives me something to do when it’s too soon for anything else to be done. Lists also impose order on an unruly world when the crazy making finally starts. As the last countdown begins, they ultimately provide me the opportunity to make a big, fat check mark next to each task as it is completed, a visible attagirl for all the brain cells I’ve invested to get us out the door.
   I’m not sure how road trips are supposed to go without your children but we will soon find out. I do know juice boxes will be replaced with bottled water and snacks will mean baggies of crudites to ease the stress of too much road food. Side trips will mean excursions more in search of public restrooms than scenic overlooks and the battle between who’s hot and who is cold will no doubt be intensified. The music we listened to when we traveled with the kids is now buried in the oldies channels but that’s okay, we’re oldies, too.
   When we settle into that Army base, we will be scanning those young faces for our grown up kid, a man standing tall and strong in a soldier’s uniform. No matter what we may have to leave undone at home or what we might forget to pack,  it will all be good. At the moment we hug our son, everybody will have their everything.

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