Moving Pictures

Road Trips Then and Now

by , posted on May 31st, 2011 in The Movie & Television Issue


They giggle.

Even the toddler, his head tilted back, all dimples and teeth.

I smile, too. I can’t see what they do. I can hear it, though.

We are on our way to Palm Springs and, thanks to modern technology, we have a drop-down screen in our SUV.

We get in the car, pop in a DVD, and the kids are engaged.

This is a lot different from the car trips I remember as a child. The five of us packed into a Chevy Malibu. My mother sat in the middle of the back seat, my brother in the front because, eventually, he was the tallest.

We spent our time yelling at our father to unroll the window so we didn’t have to breathe his cigarette smoke and to change the station from his “old people” station to something we could tolerate.

We then ducked to avoid the arm that would appear in the back seat, swinging wildly in an attempt to make contact with one of us annoying kids.

We’d do Mad Libs. We’d see how many different states on license plates we could find. We sang songs WE liked to drown out that awful music my father chose.

We whined. We picked fights with each other. We demanded to know how much farther. We begged for a stop at McDonald’s.

We were bored.

I’m sure my parents yearned for some quiet. But there was only so much we could do, packed into the car like circus clowns.

My kids will never know that kind of ennui, the sort that practically forces you to pull your brother’s hair or reach across your mother and pinch your sister. I mean, what else was there to entertain us?

They’ve practically got a theater. We even have headphones for them so my husband and I can have a conversation. But we don’t always have them use them.

I admit it: I listen to the movies. I hear lines in Madagascar I didn’t notice the 23rd time I heard it. I laugh at Ratatouille. I even know the funny parts of G-Force – and I’ve never actually SEEN it.

Their memories of road trips will be a bit different than mine from my childhood. And that’s okay. There’s still plenty of time for them to smack each other or sing loudly. There is that pesky downtime while we change DVDs.

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6 Responses to “Moving Pictures”

  1. NotJustAnotherJennifer Says:

    June 1st, 2011 at 10:08 pm

    When we got married, I was adamant that we wouldn’t have a DVD player in our cars for goodness sake. Spoiled kids. That’s what’s wrong with this generation. They never get a chance to get bored! They have ADD because they’re constantly entertained! When we were kids, we couldn’t even listen to the radio on road trips because we were in the middle of BFE and no stations came in! We had to TALK to each other. (We also played Mad Libs – awesome!)

    And then I had kids.

    And the thing is? Those poor munchkins are strapped into their seats like astronauts. We were crawling around in the back of the station wagon with the seat down, making blanket tents and playing with our toys. I’d have gone stir crazy if we had to spend 14 hours sitting still.

    So we have now seen (heard) all 5 Shrek movies. I know what you mean about catching different lines, too! We don’t have our surround sound hooked up in our house, so the sound system is actually better in the van.

    Great post. :)


  2. Cheryl @ Mommypants Says:

    June 4th, 2011 at 4:37 am

    Yes! Sitting in the way back of the station wagon was all kinds of awesome! Our kids are just prisoners now. Safe prisoners, but prisoners nonetheless!


  3. Alison@Mama Wants This Says:

    June 4th, 2011 at 8:24 am

    Your memories of road trips is very similar to mine (minus the cigarette smoke). And there were 4 kids packing the back seat! We would always fight for the seats near the door, no one wanting to be in the middle, all squeezed in. I usually won by sheer will. :)

    We haven’t invested in an in-car DVD player yet, but I get the feeling very soon, when my toddler is older, we will probably hand him an iPad (or similar) so he can occupy himself. Gotta love technology!


  4. Theresa Sonoda Says:

    June 4th, 2011 at 3:41 pm

    Ah, road trips. I actually loved them as a kid and even more so now. It was just me and my sister in the back seat and we played games and counted things. I am 4 years older than her so I was the boss of course (nothing new there, LOL). I was also a brat. Seriously. When I was 9 we were moving from Kansas City to Tennessee via a car and truck caravan of sorts, and I let my sister’s canary out of its cage during a rest stop. It flew away, of course, despite my standing under the trees and begging it to come back. Everyone was mad at me. Even my Uncle Nick who I adored. That was a tough car trip. The rest were fun though. Now I just like to drive. I haven’t driving the Pacific Coast Highway yet, and want to. On my bucket list.
    Loved this post!


  5. tracy@sellabitmum Says:

    June 5th, 2011 at 2:50 am

    Oh I still get my dad’s cigarette smoke when I ride in the car with him. Funny how I love it now because it’s only once a year and brings me immediately back 35 years.

    I am old school. We do not have DVD players and they sit 3 across – elbow to elbow in my little car in the back. It is so much easier to share crayons that way.

    At least I don’t smoke. Yet anyway.

    Love this my friend. xo


  6. Leslie Says:

    June 5th, 2011 at 2:50 am

    Loved Mad Libs & those books where you used the yellow marker to highlight or uncover answers (what were those called??) And now I love the in-car DVD player :-) Makes for a MUCH more pleasant road trip!!


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