All Together Now

James Mehring

This Memorial Day weekend, my family packed the Subaru Outback and headed out to Pittsburgh. If you read Lauren’s entry last week then you can probably guess that I am the colleague who “seemed a little appalled when I suggested that he bring along a DVD player.” Appalled is too strong a word here. Since I try to avoid saying never in these situations, let’s just say it’s not something I am ready to do yet.

There certainly were a couple times that we could have used the assistance of Elmo, Bob the Tomato, or Blue to help quiet my daughter. Now big enough to sit in a forward facing seat she battled against sleep so as to not miss a thing, turning into a real cranky pants as a result.

Since Lyn and I have full time jobs, a large part of weekends are spent balancing the check book, cleaning the house, and running our errands. We spend as much time as possible as a family but it never feels like enough. Getting into the car was like entering a bubble where we could leave behind some of our other responsibilities. Singing Sesame Street and Muppet tunes for hours both ways wasn’t torture. Whenever we hit a rest stop, Lyn and I tag-teamed to gas the car, change our toddler’s diaper, buy food, and take our daughter for walks. To be honest, Lyn and I didn’t mind the periods of crying and whining because we were spending a large chunk of two days together as a family.

I should add that Lyn and I have been making car trips to Pennsylvania, Vermont, Washington, D.C. and other destinations for years. When out on the highway, we use the time to bond. It’s where we’ve had serious discussions about our future, took the latest Cosmo quiz, talked about politics, or just relaxed while listening to National Public Radio. We did the same thing this weekend whenever our daughter was coloring, staring out the window, or that hour or two she did sleep during the 14 plus hours in the car.

I won’t say never to a DVD player. Who knows what the future will bring. I have yet to go it alone on a long trip with my kid. And the dynamics of a car trip are sure to change if we have another child. But for now our car will be video free.

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