My husband and I grew up in the same town, about a 3 hour drive from where we currently live. A good percentage of both our families still live there. We visit often. We have the packing and driving with a child down to a science. Remember in grade school when you made the volcano with backing soda and vinegar and it exploded all over the kitchen? Yeah, that kind of science.
Since it was Easter we decided to head back home, visit our families and have an Easter egg hunt with my sister and her almost 2 year old daughter. Two days before we were set to leave I get a text from my sister.
Sis: Do you ignore a child in the car when they say mommy over and over again after you've already answered?
Me: I tell Alice, it's nap time mama and papa will not be talking to you anymore. And that's it.
Sis: We obviously do not have the system down for traveling.
Me: With travel, we do our best to drive in the nap time range. And that's the goal. We talk to each other minimally, we listen to mellow music, we don't eat until she falls asleep.
Sis: I love your rules!!!
Let me just take a moment of silence to listen to the laughter singing out in my head.
As you have guessed, the car ride did not go as planned. It started out well. She was tired, had her lovey friend. The rules were being followed. About forty minutes in, I started to become concerned. I checked the rear view, she was yawning.
Okay. Good. She'll fall asleep soon and still get a 2 hour nap.
Thirty minutes passed by. Still awake. She was making sounds that I imagine very large frogs make. Not quite a ribbit, something more growly but still from the frog family. It was obvious, Alice was actively trying to keep herself awake.
New tactic, we switched the iPod to Jack Johnson. No offense to Jack, but his music seems to help her sleep. Twenty minutes later, still awake. At that point, I turned around and ever so slightly yelled to Alice.
"This is eenough!! You need to go to sleep! You are going to be so grumpy. If you don't take a nap you will have to go bed early and you will not get to play with your grandparents. Now hold Peter Pan, sit still, look out the window, and fall asleep!!"
That's sure to work, right? Nope. Half hour later she was still awake and kicking the passenger seat. Occasionally thrashing in her car seat as if she was possessed. Blurting out random screams, which I can only imagine were intended to wake her sleepy ass up. It was bad. I think I may have turned Rage Against the Machine on at a volume loud enough to drown her out. I had stopped looking in the rear view at her, it was only infuriating me to watch her eyes get progressively more tired as her body grew more and more crazy.
And the I nearly hit a motorcycle.
She was holding Peter Pan (who, by the way, is just a brown stuffed bear wearing a Santa hat and a red scarf) above her head, waving it all around. I couldn't properly see out of the mirror and I just barely missed the motorcycle when I changed lanes.
Aw yeah...it's smack down time!
I reached behind, ripped the bear from her hands, and threw it in my husbands lap.
"I will not tell you again to sit still and go to sleep! If you choose not to sleep and contine this crazy nonsense trying to stay awake, when the Easter egg hunt starts you will have a time out! And your cousin will hunt for eggs without you!"
The crazy nonsense continued. It was horrible. I wanted to scream. At one point we discussed, quietly to ourselves, the merits of drugging a child with Benadryl. I seem to remember saying out loud how I was going to enjoy watching her in timeout. The trip was not a shining moment in our little world. But we got through it and eventually arrived at my grandparent's house.
And when the eggs had been hidden and both girls were outside in their pretty dresses with their baskets, my sister said, "okay, go ahead. Hunt for eggs!" I rather calmly picked Alice up and plopped her in a garden chair to watch her little cousin gather eggs without her.
"You're in time out because you were being naughty in the car. You knew it was nap time and instead you were being crazy, kicking and screaming," I so calmly told her.
And she sat there. The rest of the family thought I was the wicked witch, but dear, sweet Alice didn't. She understood. Three minutes later she was up hunting for eggs and life was good again, for all of us.
I do believe next time we decide to take that trip things will go much more smoothly...I hope. Please.
Oh, and I did enjoy it, just a little bit of satisfaction.