Monday, June 13, 2016

Riding in the Car with Kids

This weekend was wedding central at our house.

The spouse's sister (the kid's much beloved auntie) was getting married and the whole family pitched in. I said a toast, the spouse officiated and the kids played tweedledum, the ring bearer, and tweedledee, the flower boy, to perfection.

The venue was an hour drive away so there was a lot of car time this weekend people. A lot of car time. 2 round-trips - one for the rehearsal and one for the actual wedding. Phew.

I never know what to expect from the kids when they're in the car longer than 20 minutes, so it

Trial by Fire Commute #1

The first time we did the commute, the kids watched a "Franklin the Turtle" DVD the entire way down. Judah, a TV-lover extraordinaire thought he had died and went to heaven. Noah, halfway through, started whining and fussing and begging (way too loudly) to get out of the car.

Alas we are at the stage where Noah can actually unbuckle himself and open the car door. Let's just say I have never felt so thankful for automatic car-door locks!

Commute #2

On the second commute, going back home, Noah was a total crank-en-stein, probably because he just had a long day of rehearsals and no nap.

He spent the first 10 minutes of the trip whining loudly about not having any pennies (apparently Judah had found some at the venue) and Noah had some too, but, as with all little objects in Noah's possession, soon lost them all.

The spouse spent a good deal of time digging around the car for change to appease El Dictator, but it seemed no matter how many coins he threw at the kids, the noise decibel level did not go down. can that be?

Because you can not negotiate with a terrorist people. They just crazy.

Just when I thought I was going to loose my mind from all the whining and crying, a miracle happened. Judah got in "appeasement" mode and decided he wanted to help his brother calm down.

I kid you not, when Judah puts on his "calm Noah down" hat, it's freaking magic. Judah IS the Noah Whisperer. Only he can reach across the divide and enter "crazy toddler" land, a place untouched by reason or logic, and tame that raging beast.

And that is just what he did for the rest of the 50 minute car trip.

God bless that boy.

He told Noah that his dull sad pennies were very special. They're Canadian pennies Noah! What? I didn't even know Judah knew there was a place called Canada. Amazing things they pick up in Kindergarten.

At one inspired point he told Noah to pretend to call his preschool friends on the phone and talk to them. And Judah, like some actor in an old-time variety show, deftly played the various roles of said friends - Lucas, Sophia, Jordan, etc.

In general, he continually flattered Noah and told him how cool he was and how great his stuff was. You know, what I imagine top North Korean officials do for the most part of their day for their Dear Leader.

I braced myself for when Judah would stop being so solicitous and Noah would resume his fussy whining, but it never happened. Judah tamed the beast the entire way and afterward said, Mommy, didn't I do a good job? But now I'm sooooo tired.

Yes my love, and now you know a little taste of EXACTLY how I've felt every minute of the day for, oh, just about the last 5+ years.

Commute #3

On our third commute down, I had no spouse to help me and no DVD players. Talk about living life on the edge!

The trip started out shakily, with Noah complaining (again, way too loudly) about something and me trying to distract them with a "game".

Let's play - What would you wish for if you had 3 wishes?

Judah: I want to go first!

Noah: No! Me! I go first!!!!

And since the scariest dude always gets his way, I let Noah go first.

Noah: I wish and Judah (mumble mumble mumble, I didn't hear him but pretended I did so as not to upset El Dictator). And my second wish is (mumble mumble mumble). And my third wish is for a new Paw Patrol toy!

Judah: My turn! First, I wish that I would always love God and believe Him (man, he's such a good pastor's kid). And second that I would always love my family. And third (something I forgot, but equally morally lofty).

Me: Wow Judah! Those are great wishes!

Noah: No! No! No! My wishes are stupid! I want to go again!

Noah, at this point has realized that his wishes must've seemed to worldly in light of Judah's elevated desires and now begins the cycle of shame and rage that spells doom for all citizenry of dictators everywhere.

Just as I was racking my brain for a good way to avoid the tsunami of anger and tears that were about to rain down on us (should I suggest playing a different game? should I start throwing out pandering compliments to Noah? should I suggest that Judah throw out some pandering compliments to Noah? should I pass the kids some gummy bears? think woman! think!) suddenly the storm abated. The dark clouds of Noah's displeasure dissipated on their own.


I can save the gummy bear bribes for later in our long day. WIN!

The rest of the trip passed in relative quiet as we drove along the quintessential landmark of Northern California landscapes - endless golden rolling hills, spotted with flecks of green treetops.

It stirred memories of my own childhood, staring out the car window for seemingly endless hours, marveling how the hills truly looked like gold shimmering in the bright sunlight.

So I shared the thoughts I had as a kid when I was in their exact place: Did you know a long time ago, explorers thought these hills were made out of actual gold? And they came from far away to get this gold only to discover that it was just dry grass after all! Can you imagine how disappointed they must have felt?

This, I knew, would unleash a bunch of questions from Judah and it was just the kind of information that tickled his noggin. I love this stage of his childhood.

And, as often is the case, he asks a darn good question that stumps me.

Judah: Mommy, why does the grass turn yellow when it dries up?

Me: You mean, as opposed to turning black? Or brown?

Judah: Yeah.

I told him I didn't know and thought I would try to help him think one step further.

Me: If we don't know the answer, how do you think we can find the answer?

Judah: (pause for thinking)...we can shrink down to miniature size and look at the grass?

Whelp, kid logic sure is a funny, fuzzy thing. I think he's referencing his favorite TV show at the moment, The Magic School Bus, in which all science questions inevitably lead to the shrinking of the school bus and students.

And because we are a spiritual family, I told Judah the thought that always comes to my mind when I look at dry grass - Judah, did you know the Bible says that we are like grass?

Here today and gone tomorrow. A mist. A vapor. A hundred-year-blink-of-an-eye.

Judah contemplated it receptively.

But El Dictator was displeased.

Shoot, I woke the dragon.

Noah: No! No! No! We are not grass Mommy!!!! Grass cannot talk! Grass cannot walk! Grass cannot eat!

Oh yeah, toddlers take everything literally. Ugh.

Thankfully, El Dictator was appeased by my vehemently agreeing with him - You're right Noah! We are not grass! That's so silly! Of course we're not grass! And gently distinguishing our meanings - I just mean we were a little tiny bit like grass. Just a little. But we are definitely not grass!

And soon, we arrived at our destination, not a minute too soon.

Commute #4

After the wedding, we packed into the car in happy moods. I knew El Dictator would be reasonably calm since he had a monster nap at the wedding, such is the exhaustion of walking down the aisle while sprinkling petals from a straw basket.

I finally gave them the reserve packs of gummy bears I had been saving for the entire day, hoping that would start us off on the right note. And things were fine for about the first 20 minutes.

Unfortunately the remainder of the trip was filled with this frantic chorus from both kids:

Mommy! I need to poo!
Mommy! Poo is coming out of my butt!
I'm trying to hold it in but it keeps coming out!
It's knocking on the door and I'm trying to lock the door but it's coming!
I'm putting 100 locks on the door!
Mommy, how long until we get home?!?! (uh, 40 minutes) No!!!! It has to be less than 10 minutes!
Mommy drive faster!!!!
Mommy, I farted. Fart is the start of pooping. (Noah's helpful observation).
Mommy, how much longer now?!?! (uh, 30 minutes) No!!!! That's too long!
(repeat ad nauseum)

I mentally prepared myself for poopy accidents all over the car and drove like a maniac. But the kids kept contracting their rectal sphincters like pros and I'm happy to report, it ended with a simultaneous pair of satisfying dumps at home in actual toilets.

Kids, never a dull car moment.


Unknown said...

You look beautiful!!! Did the bartender check your ID? Lol


Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Tammy said...

First of all, you look great!! Also, I laugh-sighed throughout this post at the comparisons to Noah and a certain North Korean dictator...Croz just turned one, but it's already starting!

Alice in Wonderland said...

Aw thanks Tam and Julia! It's amazing what some carefully applied make-up can do!
@Tam - brace yourself for the toddler years!!!! Seriously, you are about to enter a land where NO LOGIC OR REASON APPLIES. Or as Dante once wrote - abandon hope all ye who enter here.