Friday, July 29, 2016

Travelling With Children

Road trips are no joke!
We set off on the 1,209-mile road trip with my three sons and one of our homestay students in our Toyota minivan.  The boys were equipped with Kindles, headphones, water bottles, three different boxes of snacks from Costco and a DVD player.

It almost wasn’t enough.

If, as a friend noted, a family vacation is like "pretty much an extended birth control ad", then a road trip of three days up and two days back is at least three votes for a vasectomy.

Here’s hoping insurance will cover it.

It should be noted that mistakes were made.  No one is denying that.  Our first, biggest mistake was forgetting the travel case of DVDs and music CDs.  We were left with one copy of Toy Story, The Wiggles “Go Bananas!” and a misplaced disk of The Wallflowers “Bringing Down the Horse”.  You can only listen to “Rusty the Cowboy” and “Three Marlenas” so many times before you start questioning your sanity.

Die, demons, die!
But where some would see only obstacles, I see an opportunity: buying stuff.  I love stuff.  You can get me to do just about anything by giving me stuff.  It’s my one weakness.

Target doesn’t have nearly the music or DVD selection that it once did—before the internet came along and ruined everything—but it has enough.  We let the boys each pick a movie, and then we wisely selected a discount of all three seasons of: Avatar: The Last Airbender.  I almost convinced my wife to pick up Avatar: The Legend of Korra, but alas, the boys only got to pick one movie, so I was in the same boat.

The only mistake we made was picking all this up on our first day arriving in Washington.  No matter where we went after that, the boys wanted to watch a movie.  Despite all the media at their fingertips, they were like ravenous locusts, desperate to consume even more.

That’s where the bribes came into play.  We picked up Soho coin purses for each of the boys,
Uncounted lives were saved by this bag.
and we kept a running timer.  At each hour, the boys who had been good, would get a quarter that they could spend on anything they wanted at the next stop.  At the mid-point of each day we gave them a dollar.  Boys who behaved badly could also lose money.  We did not help the boys buy any of their treats—they had to save their coins and balance them against the cost of candy bars and soda pops.  At one point, the oldest managed to convince the middle son to pool their money together and buy a bag of Jolly Ranchers which quickly disappeared from view. 

I’m fairly certain my middle son got exactly two from the entire bag.

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