Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Road Trippin'

Before I begin this anecdote let me introduce you to Thing One and Thing Two. I am certain that you are fairly familiar with Dr. Seuss’s famous children’s book “The Cat in the Hat”. Two bored children receive an uninvited visitor, the Cat in the Hat, who has intentions of creating fun but ends up causing only chaos and stress. After a few failed attempts, the Cat brings in a big red box with a hook and introduces it as a game called Fun in a Box. Then he lifts the hook and lets out Thing One and Thing Two. The children shake hands with the Things, warily wondering what kind of fun they will bring.  The Things immediately begin whizzing around the house with a kite, bouncing off walls and furniture, knocking things over, jumping, hopping, and kicking with delight. Thing One and Thing Two are loud, irrational, and focused on causing as much chaos as possible without regard to the impact they have on other people. Macie and my nephew Camden often morph into a less destructive version of Thing One and Thing Two, thus the reference to Dr. Seuss’s classic story.

Imagine yourself nestled in the backseat of a car between Thing One & Thing Two. Now even though this is a roomy Yukon, not a teeny-tiny Honda Civic, the backseat adult passenger is likely to run into difficulty of some sort, even if Thing One and Thing Two sleep half the ride.  When my sisters and I decided to take a road trip to Columbia, MO to visit family they opted to take turns riding in the backseat with the Things. Jessica, the mother of Thing One (a.k.a. Camden), anticipated the ride to our destination would be the easiest for the backseat passenger and graciously offered up the first shift to my twin Amanda, who has no children and, thus, has a low tolerance for dirty diapers, unintelligible demands, and temper tantrums.  It was a nice thought.  It was selfless. It was a disaster. 

The first ten minutes of the road trip went perfectly. Macie and Camden were smiling and charming their Aunt Amanda and she was playing the fun, doting Auntie. That bubble quickly burst as a tired, over stimulated Macie began to fuss and squirm (which continued much of the ride to our destination) and Camden began making unintelligible demands.  Amanda ended up spending most of the ride to Columbia frantically trying to soothe Macie (feeding, talking, crying with her) and simultaneously serving as Camden’s personal assistant- Sippy cup holder, DVD player shelf, and all around servant.

Even my friends with children would feel frazzled after dealing with Thing One and Thing Two on this particular road trip. Poor Amanda has not had prior experience dealing with this type of tribulation and quickly caved under the pressure. Usually she just passes Macie and Camden off to their parents when they transform into Thing One and Thing Two, but this time there was no escape.  After a while of sustained trauma, sweet Aunt Amanda turned into a distressed Manic Mandy on the verge of tears. She just wasn’t cut out to be a personal assistant to two demanding, irrational tyrants. About fifteen minutes outside of Columbia it became evident that Manic Mandy was about to have a meltdown of her own so Jessica generously offered to switch seats and let Amanda sit in front. If you can’t take the heat get out of the fire. Amanda basically somersaulted into to the front seat, thankful for Jessica’s compassion. Thing One and Thing Two slept most of the way home from Columbia….isn’t that nice?

As the driver I did not have to take a turn in the backseat with the Things, but I had an eye opening (or eyeclosing) experience myself on this trip. I learned how to take a two and a half year old boy to the bathroom. Since I was always the one who needed to stop to pee, Jessica asked me to take Camden to the bathroom. Macie is still in diapers so I am inexperienced with toilet training….and little boys have very different equipment than girls. Sure, I can probably figure out how to teach Macie how to pee on the toilet- I’ve been doing it since I was two myself. But I’ve never had to learn how to pee on the toilet with boy parts. Luckily, Camden handled himself like a professional dealing with an incompetent employee- he was firm but gentle, with a slight air of condescension. When we got to the women’s restroom I pulled his pants down, unhooked his training pants, herded him into a stall, placed him on the toilet, and stepped out to give him some privacy. A second later I saw Camden’s feet on the floor. He got off the toilet to take his pants off so that he could scoot to the back of the toilet, then asked me to put him back. I was just thankful that he didn’t take his shoes off, as he often does at home. When he was finished I quickly fumbled to get his clothes back on before someone walked in. I was stressed that someone would enter the women’s restroom to find me dressing a half naked two and a half year old with a look of uncertainty on my face and assume I was a pedophile. They say you are scared of what you don’t know. I am definitely inexperienced with the day-to-day functions of boy parts, which makes me nervous and uncomfortable in all related situations. If I have a boy Josh is in charge of all potty-related training, otherwise my son will be peeing on the toilet until he is thirty.

The point of this blog posting is to demonstrate how awful vehicular travel can be with babies. Hopefully this anecdote has been a cautionary tale for people who intend to have children. If you want to see if you can hack it with kids just come on a road trip with Thing One and Thing Two.  This trip made me realize that I cannot have two babies at the same time. There is too much noise- one screaming or talking in gibberish and the other speaking in two-year old-ese, which sounds somewhere between Chinese and Cajun. Also, how do I take two children to the bathroom? How do I feed both children and myself? How do I get one out of the car seat without the other running off? I would definitely be one of those parents with a child leash (heck, I’m almost there now with one). What happens if they both want to be held at the same time? I have a hard enough time with one…life would be ten times crazier with another Thing.

Road Trip Rules (with babies)

1. Must bring Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and a portable DVD player:
I was skeptical at first (remember, no TV until three?), but my next purchase is a DVD player for the road and a Mickey Mouse Clubhouse DVD. It keeps the “Things” entertained and quiet, which means that I can focus on driving.

2. Must bring water, food, and suitable music:
Macie prefers Lady Gaga, Beyonce, Kesha, and anything else with a bouncy beat.

3. When you smell (or hear) a poopy diaper pull over immediately:
If you don’t change the diaper quickly you will deal with a stinky car and an angry, uncomfortable baby.

4. Adults are only allowed two potty breaks each way:
You better learn to hold it if you have to pee more. Babies have a limited car-riding threshold and potty breaks take up precious time. Also, you can only hope for a strap-in changing table in the restroom. If not, you will have to pee with a baby on your lap.

5. Don’t drink half a pot of coffee before you leave:
Which I ALWAYS seem to do, hence the multiple bathroom breaks.

6. No cursing or gesturing inappropriately:
Baby see, baby do.

7. If I swerve get out of my way:
BABY ON BOARD means that I have the right of way. When I swerve it is because I am working to prevent a car meltdown- adjusting temperature, checking on Macie in my mirror, or reaching back and handing her bunny FuFu to calm her down. 


Veronica Lee said...

Awwww!! Your munchkins are too cute!

Hi! Stopping by from MBC. Great blog!
Have a nice day!

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