When he was small, my youngest son had a habit of filling his pockets with treasures he encountered in his daily adventures. I didn't always understand the value he saw in his chosen objects -- really, how many rocks and sticks could one boy keep? In his eyes, though, each one was beautiful and important. Life is just like that on a larger scale, isn't it? We gather up the precious bits of our experiences and save them all to learn from and enjoy later. Perhaps you'll find a little something here that you'd like to keep in your own pockets. Thanks for visiting.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Are we there yet?

Remember that lovely little post I wrote last week about travelling long distances in the car with children, and how I thought you could keep them actively and happily occupied for that time so that the journey was almost as much fun as the destination? Yeah, well obviously when I wrote that it had been a while since I had taken a long trip in the car with the boys. I was singing a somewhat different tune this afternoon!

The four of us drove from Waterloo, Ontario, to Traverse City, Michigan today, a journey that takes about 7 hours, including stops. In what was a minor miracle due to a health issue I've been dealing with (more on that at a later time, but just so you know, I am feeling much better now!), I managed this past week to have us completely packed and organized so that we were ready to go by 8:30 this morning. Things started out well -- the boys had their books and their bin full of fun things to do -- but perhaps because they had been in computer camps all week and hadn't spent as much time outdoors burning off their energy as they usually do in the summer, both of them seemed pretty wired today and sitting in the car got ugly after the first few hours.

Shortly after lunch, the boys got into following our route on the maps we had given them, which I thought was great, until they started asking questions non-stop and then arguing with each other about the answers. "Where are we on this map?" "What page are you on?" "Have we passed exit 212 yet?" "No, wait, that sign says exit 212..." "NO, THAT's exit 212." "How far until the next exit?" "What exit did we just pass again?", and so on. Then they started using a marker to mark off the exits they had passed, which was a relief to Matt and I until we realized from their hysterial laughter that they were drawing in marker all over themselves in the backseat. (That started with an accidental swipe of the marker on Noah's leg and then exploded.) The wheels quickly fell off at that point, and the boys got sillier and sillier with every mile, and Matt and I got more and more annoyed. (You will likely understand our reaction a little better if I tell you that when Will is wound up, he only has one volume, called RIDICULOUSLY LOUD. Let me just say that no good can come from experiencing RIDICULOUSLY LOUD in a confined vehicle on a highway.) When we finally got the boys calmed down and onto a different activity (this may or may not have involved the threat of pulling the car over and/or turning around and going back home), they were okay for a bit, but then I happened to make a comment about seeing wild turkeys on the road in Williamsburg (don't ask) and that set them off again. Add to all of this nonsense these other fascinating facts about the trip: Will could not for the life of him stop pressing his feet into the back of the driver's seat, Matt had some crazy allergy attack or cold that had him sneezing every 3 seconds and using an entire box of Kleenex on the trip (poor guy), and while eating lunch en route, I found a live green caterpillar in the salad I had packed from home (guess I didn't wash that lettuce from our garden quite carefully enough!). Surely it's no wonder that by the time we arrived at our destination, it was Matt and I, and not the boys, who had been asking ourselves exasperatedly for hours, "Are we there yet?!?"

I am happy to say, though, that despite the crazy ride, the day has ended well. We got settled in to our condo on the beach, and I spent the evening hours watching Noah and Will playing in the lake with my bare feet buried in the warm, warm sand while the waves gently lapped upon the shore. In those hours of quiet contentment with my children, it became clear to me again why we put ourselves through the insanity of going anywhere: there is nothing quite so lovely as sharing time away from the business of every day life with your family. As time goes by, I'll forget the horrors of today's car trip, but I'll remember fondly the peaceful happiness shared by all four of us on a familiar beach. I'd do it again in a heartbeat.

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