Road trip! With a Four-Year Old!

We’re finally back from the land of Cheeseheads and Bucky Badger. We did see a badger, at a free zoo, but had very little cheese, other than a special, award-winning asiago my BIL bought in honor of our visit because he knows I like cheese.

My son started a new growing and development phase just a few days before the trip that I like to call SATAN. SATAN goes kind of like this – everything is going fine until suddenly, something very small and unplanned for pisses my kid off. Say, we are trying to walk through a busy parking lot at a rest stop where dumb, overtired drivers are lucky not to run over a parking curb let alone a fast-moving four-year old, and he sees a bug he wants to smash. Or a piece of gum someone dropped. Or a worm. Or whatever. And I won’t let him stop in the middle of the parking lot to touch it, so I have to kind of drag him along to keep going, so we won’t be hit by a car. Then, SATAN. He rips his hand away from mine, clenches his hands into angry little fists and grits his teeth and yells at me so loud that other people are staring. “MOMMY, STOP IT, YOU’RE HURTING MY HAND!” “MOM, I WANT TO SEE THAT THING! Let GO OF ME!”

It could be anything. That I won’t turn the TV back on after I’ve said it’s time to shut it off. That I need him to use the bathroom because this is the last stop for the next 50 miles. That I won’t let him take all of the pamphlets out of their pockets at the rest stop, whatever. I am the Meanest Mom Ever, I get it.

I resorted to bribing. I did. And sugar. When you can only stop once in the next 50 miles and you know your kid has to pee, you will negotiate an amount of jellybeans to make it happen. He whetted these skills on the trip, supremely.

Me: Ok, I’m going to go pee, and then you can go.


Me: I’m going, and then you can go, and then we’re leaving.


Me: How about for two jellybeans? Would you consider going for two jellybeans?

SATAN: FIVE. FIVE JELLYBEANS, MOM. (takes down pants, goes)

Me: No, not five, that’s way too many. How about two?

SATAN: FIVE! FIVE! FIVE! I told you!

Me: (pretending to really think) Well, I could go as high as three, but that’s it. Five is way too many. (meanwhile, we have now successfully both peed, and the screaming has stopped)


Me: Oh no, four is entirely too many. I mean, that’s just a LOT. I can do three, but that’s my final offer.


Me: Or NONE. You can have three or NONE. Which is it?


I drank so much coffee on this trip, you have no idea. And there was not enough alcohol. Luckily, I managed to find a whole foods that was open at our first night at the hotel, about halfway to IN, and I bought a bottle of cheap organic wine, and managed not to drink the entire thing somehow. We made frozen pizzas in the hotel and he screamed at me about his being too hot and not being cut up properly. I let him watch WAY too much TV, including some ridiculous fucking show where PAM DAWBER, who is fucking SIXTY-ONE and has had almost as much plastic surgery as Manilow, was playing the mom of a TEENAGER. Really, Hollywood? There is NOBODY ELSE that could play the mom of a teenager on some crappy Disney sitcom so you had to get Pam Dawber out of retirement for it? Come on, nobody is buying that Pam Dawber had a miracle baby at 48.

I did get to go out without the kid one night, with my BIL and nephew. My BIL is Chinese and assured me that the pho house he wanted to take me to was the best in the country, and he should know, having traveled all the hell over. It was amazing good and wow hot peppers and as soon as it was gone, I wished I’d gotten the large bowl instead of the small. I came home and my sister had made dinner with D’s help, gave him a bath, combed his hair and brushed his teeth and put him in his pajamas and they were watching Scooby Do. Man I wish she lived closer, I could really use Mary Poppins now and again.

On the way home, a friend of mine with a daughter the same age as D’s met us at our hotel with her family in tow. She has like 75 kids so when they arrived, it was like a tornado blew in. I honestly loved it. Kids are completely nonplussed by such things and they immediately settled in to the room, changing the TV channel and re-arranging the furniture so it worked for them, which made me laugh. We all went to the pool, where everyone else in the hotel was glad they weren’t, because there was a lot of shrieking and insanity and laughter. D’s lips were turning blue and his teeth were chattering so I made him quit jumping in, which of course brought on SATAN, so I drug him back to the room and ordered pizza for everyone. It was complete chaos and made me a little melancholy that I never was able to have a big family like I wanted to. But then I was really glad when they were gone and it was quiet, just me and D in bed. I turned on 60 Minutes and he was asleep in 5 minutes. Even SATAN has to sleep.


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