Wednesday, March 14th, 2007
Traveling by Car with an Almost-Three-Year-Old
My birthday is this week. My mother decided to celebrate the
day by having her uterus cut out.
Too graphic? OK, she is having a hysterectomy for health
reasons and my family took a six-hour drive today so I could spend time with her before
and after the surgery. The date of the operation is just a happy coincidence.
I was wondering what a six-hour drive with an active 2.8-year-old toddler
would be like. We packed a
bunch of books, expecting a parent would sit with her and pile through them.
Departing at 5:30 a.m., our Little Miss ate a sandwich and
then slept for an hour. From there on out she was pleased to watch the scenery
go by and chat with her parents.
"Mama, look at that beautiful meadow over there."
Seriously, we were blown away by her observations.
And there was the requisite family mooing and waving at passing
cows, mooing extra loud if they were far away. We passed a field with 7
buffalo. They are not exactly common in California. I didnâ€™t know how to greet
The fun really started near the end of the trip when Little
Miss decided she was driving from her position in the center of the back seat. She grips her steering wheel by making two fists and rubbing them together. That lasted a good hour. Then she decided Mama and Papa had to drive with her.
I was driving with my hands in the 8 and 4-oâ€™clock position on the steering wheel, but she couldnâ€™t see my
hands from her vantage point.
"Papa, drive! Drive,
So for an hour I drove with my hands in the 10 and 2 o’clock
position. As bad as that was, Mom had it worse. She had to keep her arms
elevated while gripping an imaginary wheel. And youâ€™d better believe Little Miss
became Little Miss Bossy, snapping at us when she caught us not driving.
"Mama, drive! Drive,
Mom eventually pulled out some lacing cards, and that
effectively quieted our backseat driver. Mom used the lacing cards too, which probably helped keep my daughter’s attention. An activity is more fun when it is shared, even if your companion is sitting in the seat in front of you.
[Interruption update: a car-oriented blog linked to this article with a comment suggesting kids should be given Dramamine (e.g., sedated) for car travel. Such a person doesn't understand the joy of raising kids. When I wrote "the fun really started," I wasn't being facetious. I
meant we really were laughing and having fun through the "ordeal" of
traveling with our wonderful daughter. I can only hope that blogger is
not a parent.] We now resume this travelogue already in progress…
Potty breaks were a breeze, slapping our travel potty on the
passenger seat and tossing our yucky Ziploc bags in gas station trash bins. Meals were the usual dry fareâ€”nuts, bagels, crackers, a sandwich
and grapes. Sleep at Grandmaâ€™s house is a snap with our inflatable Ready Bed, familiar
comfort items and night light.
Her bedtime every night has become simple since we realized she is mature enough
to skip her once-a-day nap without being cranky. She goes right to sleep at about 6 or 7 p.m.
Little Miss and her mom will be traveling to Reno by train on
Thursday to visit an old high school friend while I hang out with Grandma. Iâ€™m
a bit envious because from everything Iâ€™ve read, it sounds like a train ride
can be a mini-adventure for a toddler while being quite an alternative for a parent who is accustomed to being stuck behind a wheel. I’d love to hear from anyone whose family has traveled by train on vacation.
See previous: HOW TO: Enjoy Car Travel with a Toddler (at 18 months)