Road Trips Then and Now
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.