Ah, there’s nothing like a good ol’ family road trip. Two middle-aged parents, an 11-year-old, and a 6-year-old in a confined, moving space for 6 hours. What adventure!
To begin, press snooze on the pre-dawn wake-up call—twice. Finally drag your bones out of bed. Use the bathroom (catch up on Words with Friends). Brush teeth. Dress. Pack last-minute items—important things like night cream, necklaces, and magazines.
Feed dogs. Feed cat. Feed chickens. Feed fish. Leave note for pet sitter. Pack trunk. Admire the neat perfection of your packing job. Get kids up, into the bathroom, and out to the car. As you buckle them up, watch husband unpack and repack the trunk. Get irritated because your perfectly fine and geometrically calculated packing job was just as good as his (if not better). This is obviously some sort of passive aggressive tactic on his part, so you must wrest control of the situation back into your favor. Argue with husband about who will drive. He wins, despite his allergy attack and bad morning attitude. You don’t have the energy.
Get in car. Buckle up. Start backing out of the driveway. Push remote button to close the garage door. Notice oldest son has no shoes. Stop car. Push remote button to open the garage door. Get out of car. Go back into the house for oldest son’s shoes.
Get back in car. Start pulling out of the driveway. Push remote button to close garage door. Youngest son immediately yells, “I feel like I have to throw up!” Breathe. Stop car. Push remote button to open garage door. Get out of car. Go into the garage to retrieve a handful of plastic bags.
Get back in car. Hand youngest son a plastic bag and tell him "not to miss." Push remote button to close garage door. Pull out of the driveway. Begin to actually drive away from the house. The sun has risen in full effect. As you leave the neighborhood, you realize you have no sunglasses. You say you will just buy some at a gas station. Husband stops car. Reverses back to driveway because you don’t need to buy what you already have. Push remote button to open garage door. Get out of car. Send a silent apology to the neighbors. Go back inside for four pairs of sunglasses and a few deep, vaporized breaths. Take more time than you need to considering you're already behind schedule.
Get back in car. Push remote button to close garage door. Drive away from the house. Ignore the nagging feeling that you’re forgetting something else. Make a joke that it’s a good thing everyone’s heads are screwed on, hardy-har-har. No one laughs.
Drive for 10 peaceful minutes before kids begin to argue and scream. Thank the evil Electronic Sky Gods that you didn’t forget the kids' iPads. But refuse to reward their current threats and tattles with a contemporaneous game of Minecraft. Make them suffer a respectable amount of time-- a whole hour-- being quiet, fiddling with their Legos, and enjoying the scenery, as well as each other’s lovely company. Ah, brotherly love.
Cross the Golden Gate Bridge with sanity intact, hand out iPads, take a moment to accept award for Best Parent in the World (all earlier parenting deficits apparently pardoned). Ride in relative bliss on and off for the next five hours: no one screams (much), and no one barfs. You actually exchange a few civil and complete sentences with your husband. Winning!
Stop and look to the clouds a moment to remember when road-trip bliss used to mean an icy cold Big Gulp (Dr. Pepper), a pack of cigarettes (Marlboro Lights 100s), and a few Grateful Dead shows on cassette tape (favorite=December 26, 1979, Oakland Auditorium Arena). "So many roads, I tell you, so many roads..."