Ah, 'tis the season for packing up and hitting the road. Hours in the car with small children have left me wishing for certain vehicle modifications that should come standard on minivans. They've finally started providing an on-board vacuum and a DVD player. Why haven't they installed a privacy window between the front and back seat (think taxi cabs and limos)? Or an electronic bucket line to ferry snacks to the passengers? Or dividers that deploy around the loudest troublemaker in the back? Or low-voltage shock in the seat controlled from the front for scofflaws? Until then ...
1. No pointing out anything outside the vehicle. Ever. Here's what happens: Someone shouts, "FIRETRUCK." Delayed reaction time plus 65+ MPH on the highway equals tears of "I DIDN'T SEE THE FIRETRUCK" for the next half hour.
2. Visit the pot at every stop. Period. We have one child who always claims she doesn't have to go at a rest stop. A half hour later, she urgently has to go. We stop. She doesn't go. We repeated this routine a few times before we wised up to these phantom pee breaks. I'm tempted to just put all the kids in Pull Ups.
3. You are not allowed to ask "Are we there yet?" more than once an hour. I'm being generous here. But unless the car is parked in front of our destination, there's really no need to ask.
4. If you drop it, you've lost it. I am not surfing through the back seat at highway cruising speed to fish your apple or your toy car out from under the seat.
5. No one is allowed to look at, touch, pretend to touch, breath on, or talk to each other at a decibel level over 70db. (I have a sound meter on my phone and I will use it!) You'll be issued headphones for the in-flight movie. There is no need to interact with your siblings. At all.
Safe and happy trails, ya'll!