“Something smells really bad,” I complained. Nobody else noticed anything, but I kept my nose out the window for the rest of the journey. After we arrived home, my father started to unpack the back of the station wagon and soon stepped back smartly.
“What the blazes is that?!” It seems my little brother had decided to bring a starfish back home as a souvenir of our vacation, and let me tell you, those things do not travel very well in the summer heat for 1200 miles.
That’s what great memories are made of – the bumps in the road on the way to Grandma’s house or perhaps to see ‘the Mouse’ in Florida. When your kids are grown, they’ll laugh about it over a beer; laugh at your expense of course, over how Mom nearly blew a gasket when Jamie pooped in the motel pool.
You can’t predict everything that might happen, but if you pack your sense of humor and make a few plans, you likely won’t act on the urge to turn this car around. Here are a few hints from a mother of 5 who amazingly still has all of her children and never once left anyone on a church doorstep.
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Kids Are Kids
Sounds lame, but these three words have come to my mental rescue on a few occasions. Don’t expect kids to be adults. Just because you know it’s not cool to yell “I gotta pee!” in a crowded restaurant, young children may not. It’s all part of the learning process.
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Prepare, Prepare, Prepare!
Make a list and do it weeks ahead of your trip. Add to it every time you think of something else you need to bring. Perhaps categorize it into sections – meals, sleepy time, first aid/meds, toys, clothes, miscellaneous. My sisters and I harassed our brother for an hour before he finally reluctantly agreed to ask the motel manager for the 3 bathing caps that the pool side sign demanded… and the man we pointed out turned out to be a baffled motel guest. (Sorry, Jamie!)
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Laugh a Lot
The crankiest of kids will forget they’re cranky if you let your sillies out. Tell jokes, tell goofy farfetched stories and sing dumb songs. I recall a long ago cross USA car trip where I switched the heads of Barbies with GI Joe action figures, gave them awful accents and put on a gut busting puppet show that entertained my younger sibs for hours.