Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Car jobs

Growing up, I was no stranger to long car rides. We seemed to travel between BC and Alberta and Utah quite a lot. My children, who are on their fourth drive across the country (once when we moved out, once to visit Utah, once driving back from Utah, and…now), probably feel the same way.

They are well conditioned.

This, however, is Zoë’s inaugural long-distance car ride. She and I flew to Utah and back the summer everyone else drove (and I flew out with Benjamin when we moved out here and I’m flying out to Utah this time around—I’m just always hugely pregnant or have a brand-new baby when we make these trips, what can I say?). She needs to be trained in the art of sitting in the car all the livelong day.

And who better to teach this art than a big sister?

When I was Rachel’s age, my job in the car was to sit by the baby (hello, Josie) and do my best to keep her happy. Guess what Rachel’s job is now? Yup—she’s sitting by Zoë and should be doing her best to make her happy.

The kids have a lot of entertainment in the car. I collected various things from around the house that Zoë enjoys, and threw in some surprises she’s never seen, all in an effort to avoid getting into a desperate situation where Zoë is screaming her head off but there are miles and miles to go before there’s a good stopping point.

This happened once when Josie was little. My poor mom was the only driver in the vehicle and we were in the middle of nowhere. Josie was sick and tired of being in the car and I was completely out of things to keep her entertained.

Abra came to the rescue.

She reached back from the front seat and handed me a little container of lip balm.

“Feed her this,” she instructed.

So I did. I dipped my finger into the little container and let Josie suck it off. Then I dipped my finger into the little container and let her lick it off again. Before long the jar was empty and Josie—who had thoroughly enjoyed this brilliant trick—started fussing again (probably jonsing for another glob of lip balm).

“Now what?” I asked in desperation.

“What do you mean, ‘Now what?’” my sister called from the front seat.

“She ate it all,” I said.

“She ate it…all?!” my sister asked.

“Yeah,” I said, feeling a little confused by my older sister’s rising emotion. “You said to feed it to her…”

“I meant put a little bit on her lips and let her lick it off! I didn’t mean for her to eat it!”

In my defense, (1) I was only nine, (2) Josie really enjoyed it, and (3) I was a bit of a literal child and Abra really did say to feed it to her.

I remember my mom was pretty worried about whether it was safe to consume that amount of lip balm. She asked her mom about it in a panic when we finally arrived at my grandma’s house. After checking the ingredients, my grandma assured her it was probably fine. I don’t know what was in there—but I think it was petroleum jelly-based. So not great but not dangerous. At any rate, Josie is still alive and well today so no harm, no foul.

Still, I’m hoping to avoid a repeat of that scenario and with any luck, perhaps we will. I have the activities I put together, Ade gave the kids a little travel bin, our next-door neighbors came by with a couple of bags full of goodies and activities for the kids, and the Browns stopped by with a box of treats for the kids as well.

Plus they are traveling with the internet, apparently, so they can stream shows on their devices…since we weren’t quite organized enough to download anything for them to watch.

They have bags full of books and boxes of snacks and…

If they run out of things to do on this trip it’s not for lack of trying!

My parting words to Rachel were, “Now, are you going to be able to read as much as you’d like?”

“No,” she sighed.

“And why not?” I asked.

“Because I’m supposed to keep Zoë happy.”

My parting words to Benjamin were, “If you need to throw up again you make sure you do it in the container we gave you, okay?”

I know how to make good speeches.


  1. How are they doing so far? And how many days will it take for them to reach Utah?

    1. They could do it in three days, but I think they are planning to stretch it to five to try to keep the kids happy and do a little sightseeing. I can hardly wait to see them!

  2. We have done a lot of traveling this summer and the kids have raken turns sitting by sam. When they get super desperate they lean their head over and let him pull their hair...not great, but it keeps him happy 😂

  3. Rachel just sent me a video of Zoe screaming "No" over and over. Sounds like they're having a marvelous time!

    1. I got the same video. Zoë is a gem... :)