If you haven’t already, I would invite you to read part one of Why Father’s Dread Family Vacations. Really, I could make this into a whole series. But I won’t. Probably. Not sure I have the strength to delve too deep into the many reasons why vacations suck like a Dyson vacuum.
We left off with the car finally being packed, the kids buckled into their seats and the Partington family about to set off on a family vacation.
With our large SUV packed to the brim, resembling an overstuffed burrito with pillows and blankets poking out of the cracked windows, we departed while singing along to the CD that was blasting out our ear drums—No, not a good ol’ rock n’ roll song, but a yippy-yappy version of Do Your Ears Hang Low, featuring lots of tuba-playing and sound effects one might hear on a carnival ride.
One thing non-parents should know and parents of older children should be reminded of is that young children learn by repetition. And so when the next song began, the boys voiced their objections and demanded that we play Do Your Ears Hang Low a second time. Hint to parents of young children—DO NOT ALLOW THIS! They will want to hear the song approximately 763 times before one of two things happens: you begin a gradual plummet into some dark abyss within your subconscious mind that you never knew existed, or the song will permanently embed into the deepest pockets of your brain and never ever leave, much like a homemade wedding gift that wasn’t included in your registry.
My wife and I are fortunate in that we purchased a vehicle with built-in TV screens and DVD players for the backseats. When we bought the car, we never thought we’d use them but felt differently after the first long trip with the kids.
Before you judge us, know that I understand how too much television watching can be a bad thing. But it’s funny how the rotting of a child’s mind suddenly doesn’t seem so awful when placed against losing one’s mind and committing murder.
Think I’m being over dramatic? Witness a typical conversation between the five-and-three-year-old in the middle of one such trip.
Five-year-old: “Stop looking at me.”
Three-year-old: “I’m NOT.”
Five-year-old: “STOP LOOKING AT ME!”
Five-year-old: “STOP IT! MOMMMMMMMM! He’s LOOKING at me!”
My wife: “He must think you’re handsome. Just ignore him.”
Five-year-old: “But he won’t stop looking at me and I don’t like it! Kyle, I don’t like it. STOP LOOKING AT ME!”
Three-year-old: “I WON’T!”
Me: (only half-paying attention) “Kyle, stop looking at your brother.”
My wife, shooting me dagger eyes: “Really? That’s what ya go? My hero.”
Five-year-old: “HE’S SMILING AT ME NOW!!! KYLE STOP IT! STOP IT! STOP IT!!!”
Such is our life. Being crammed in an SUV with the kids for so long kind of makes you feel like one of those snakes-in-a-prank-cans that shoot out when someone opens it. Incidentally, this is also how I feel at the end of these road trips, like everything just kind of shoots out of the car in a massive explosion–bags, clothes, toys, noose…
As bad as having three kids in the car can be, it’s made that much worse if ever an outsider comes along for the ride. On one such car ride, an extended family member sat shot gun (that’s “sat shot gun,” not to be confused with “sat with a shot gun,” which might have been a wiser move). When she first asked for a ride, my wife and I looked at each other as if a police officer had just asked us, “What’s that sound coming from the trunk?” Reluctantly, we agreed and so began our plummet into the abyss.
I drove and my wife sat behind us in the middle row next to the youngest. We had the GPS system on to help us find what was beginning to feel like the Lost City of Atlantis, what with all the turns and random roads that didn’t appear on any map not coated in vinegar.
Now, you should know that as good as my five-year-old’s vocabulary is, he still struggles with certain words, as many five-year-old kids do. For example, he always says “re-nect” instead of “connect” and “ree” as “three.” At a point, just after the GPS woman’s voice prompted me to make a left turn in approximately 200 feet, my five-year-old blurted out from the back of the car, “DADDY, IS SHE GIVING YOU ERECTIONS?”
While the next words were probably spoken only a few seconds after he said this, the pause seemed to last forever.
“Whh..what?” my wife asked.
“Erections,” he said again. “She gave Daddy erections, Mommy.”
In my peripheries, I could see my extended family member shifting in her seat, calculating her chances of survival if she were to leap out of the moving vehicle and onto the freeway.
That’s when the middle child farted—a loud ripper, like the ramping up of a chainsaw.
Another bit of insight into the world of little kids—there is nothing on this earth funnier than a fart. Laughter ensued—high-pitched, squealing laughter from my two oldest boys…
…and all this is what prompted my wife to put on Frozen for the remainder of the trip. Another hint to parents of young children: sometimes digitally manufactured peace is the way to go.