The first day of ‘the roadtrip’ wasn’t toute horreur. There were sweet moment(s), like when the oldest two stumbled into our room at 7.23am on Saturday, each carrying their outfit for the day. They crawled into our bed and lay there for exactly one minute, before sitting up and changing into their car-clothes. Ready to go. Ready for ‘occation’ as the Hen calls it.
It was one of those sweet, sweet moments I hope to remember always. Unlike the scene at the Best Western Clock Tower Inn in Billings Montana, nearly 20 hours later. When two adults and three children divided themselves amongst two queen beds. And a 22 month old lay, scratching his arms and neck raw whilst kicking his legs vigorously.
Allow me to set the stage properly: a 22 month old lay scratching his person in the manner of someone possessed, whilst kicking his legs vigorously….after granting his weary parents one hour of sleep. I was somewhat beside myself. Which is something of an overstatement, because I was actually completely beside myself. Incapable of focusing on anything besides the fact that I’ve slept less in the last 35 months than people in torture camps. My once-average IQ has dwindled to below the legal limit and I’m two sleepless nights away from being asked if I’m the boys’ grandmother.
When we moved to Calgary three years ago, I was relatively fresh-faced. One year into the sleep disordered existence of my middle-boy; my skin still dewy from the Indiana humidity. Now, my hair is on the cusp of being more gray than brown and I fear all the Creme de la Mer in the world (and a lifelong infusion of humidity) won’t undo the ‘seriously?’ frown lines etched on my forehead.
But this was supposed to be about traveling with three small children, not about the full-blown pity party I attended in the middle of the night on Saturday.
It’s like this. I’m supposed to edit 18 (3000-4500 word) conference papers…by Tuesday. In theory, spending 12 hours in the car should allow me to make a modicum of progress towards this particular deadline. I mean, don’t children sleep when they’re trapped in a car with nothing else to do?
Not really, I’ve learned-remembered. Or, should I say, conceded, after spending five (intermittent) hours editing one paper.
Put it another way, as we loaded our mangled car-van at the start of day 2, we encountered some fellow travelers in the parking lot. They were fresh-faced. Jovial. Joking. Because they’d probably slept at least six hours. Because their surly-ungainly preteens probably didn’t dump stuffed animals on the floor of their sedan, squawking loudly until the ‘precious’ items were returned to the owner’s clutches.
The parents probably didn’t have to sip their water covertly – as though it were brandy in a hip flask – just because they didn’t want the not yet two year old to see the water bottle; thus setting off a five minute screaming fit because he wants to dump water all over himself and then complain about it. At length. They probably didn’t say things like ‘if you don’t turn off that toy right now I will step on it.’
No, these fellow travellers had bikes strapped to their sedan and were headed for Glacier National Park. With nary a stuffed animal, diaper, pacifier or sippy cup in sight. They were sipping Starbucks, on their way to outdoor bliss.
And we were headed to Sioux Falls. Shell-shocked, with bleary eyes and ringing ears.