Monday, September 27, 2010

family: ...home, home...

... and we're staying this time...

Done. Our roadtrip. To Walla Walla. And home. Someone asked me last night if it was fun. I thought for a moment longer than they expected, then said "parts were."

Traveling with 2 small kids is a challenge. Maybe it's just a challenge for me. Maybe everyone else in the world can pop a 4.5yo and an almost 3yo into a Grand Caravan minivan and drive for 5 hours and settle down in a hotel room with 2 beds and one window and lots of dimness and spend a night and do stuff for a day and spend another night and then reverse the process, slicing maybe 30 minutes off the drive home, and when asked if it was fun, say immediately and without reservation "Yeah. We're going to do it again next weekend. Maybe double the drive and quadruple the time spent away from the comfort and familiarity of our home!" Maybe it's just me.

I found it draining. And this with girls who are relatively well behaved!* I can't imagine what it would be like if they were truly handfuls.... I don't want to imagine it.

I can't imagine doing this kind of thing alone, without the support and tag-team benefits of M. She picks up the slack when I'm worn down, and vice versa (I hope). But even going two-on-two, it was a long game and I'm glad it's over.

There were good moments, but there were not-so-good ones as well. We took the girls' bikes and they were excited to ride (to the point of wanting to ride as soon as we got there, even though they were tired and hungry and had not a clue). On Saturday we took them to the Whitman campus where K rode well and enjoyed herself (mostly) and L had multiple meltdowns because she couldn't peddle as well as she wanted, and it was slightly uphill and she was tired and hadn't slept well and hadn't eaten well and, and, and.... (there's something particularly humiliating about being a parent of a child having a loud tantrum on a quiet eastern Washington Saturday morning right next to tennis courts on which competition is taking place! "Hi, oh, we're just passing through... my wife is an alum and she's over there with our other child who is also having a meltdown about... well, something vitally important, and we just wanted to come let the girls watch you play tennis because it's such a great example you're giving them, and by the way, we'll also provide a bit of an audio challenge while you're trying to win your match!")

Being a bit older than M, I'm way past feeling like I'm almost one of these college kids (who all seem to be about 11 years old), but I suspect experiences like taking your own kids on campus help slap you in the face with a cold harsh reality that you are 15 years removed from playing tennis in the early morning quiet and marveling at the really old alums who would bring their kids back to an reunion....

Balancing this type of thing were moments like watching the girls imitate their mama on the climbing rock, me basking in the fact that these were my kids and my wife and somehow, as if by magic, they had ended up in my life!

And then there was the fact that these sisters managed to share a bed and sleep reasonably well (until 5a the first morning, and 6a the second). Is it just me, or is there something endearing about the image of two small kids curled together in one bed, asleep and breathing in a pool of shared little kidness?

And we had coffee. I drank much coffee. It wasn't even particularly good coffee, but it was warm and dark and helped keep me awake.

I wish I was a better traveler. I wish I could embrace the unexpected and the challenges of travel with kids. I honestly believe exposure to things other than the familiar is good and expanding and blah blah blah, but this morning I'm tired and wonder why it's morning and not night, and why I'm getting up and not going to bed.

Did I mention that it's gray and dark and damp and that the winter hasn't really even STARTED yet? It's going to be a long, cold, lonely winter.....

I like the idea of travel with the kids. I'd love to immerse the girls in things unlike those they are used to, introduce them to people and places and experiences that open their eyes and give them the facility to embrace the world in all its glory and variety. But right now I just want to sleep in my own bed and know they are sleeping well in their own beds....

On the bright side, I managed to "test drive" parts of a story I've been kicking around in my head for some time, a story called "Kate Finds a Horse." It's something I'd like to write out and explore as a possible kid's book.

M and I were beat, 4 hours into the return trip, and in order to keep the peace and relative quiet, and to distract K who was "hot!" and insisted on having my window all the way down, even though it was now raining and having wet wind blow into my left ear at upwards of 70mph was not conducive to my finding a happy place, I started telling this story to the girls right about the time we crossed Snoqualmie summit, and it kept K occupied and engaged the entire rest of the trip. She kept asking for more chapters, suggesting the concepts: "Tell about how Belle jumps!" and "Tell about Belle's Stall!!" I tried to stop after 4 chapters, but she insisted I keep on telling the story even as we crossed the I-90 bridge on into Seattle.

So, I think I've got one reader, if I can manage to get this thing onto paper.

*Just to make clear, our girls were nothing more than... kids. They were fully age-appropriate and if there was anyone who wasn't acting his age, it was me.


Anonymous said...

ahh. I can totally relate to your story but I think I knew my limitations, or just simply wasn't willing to push my limits. In any event, any weekend thing had to be within a 3 hour drive. If we went further, it was a longer trip. It was more for me and my own inability to stay locked in a car for long periods. kim

Jocelyn said...

We have a rule that any trip over 60 miles is eligible for the DVD player. It started when I was trying to drive Austin to my parents 2 hours away by myself and entertain him by handing him toys while driving at 60 mph. So I still consider it a safety issue! And sure, he may never appreciate the road trip, but at least we all get there in one piece. We traveled a lot this summer and it was definitely exhausting with too, especially with an infant. I swore a few times I wouldn't travel again till the kids were 3 & 7, but I'm sure I'll go back on that! Loved your post!