Friday, December 23, 2005

(All) Day Tripper

It's the holidays, and the Familymatic has taken their show on the road, so to speak. Namely, we've just finished a 4-day stint in the lovely Fayettevile, NC (known to its detractors as Fayettenam) visiting daddymatic's parents and we've just arrived at Chez Bee-bee and Grampy for a multi-day stay.

And, as you might expect, I have a few thoughts to share on car traveling with an almost-toddler. Namely, do not attempt a 13-hour journey AT ANY TIME. Anyone who says it's not that bad is not your friend and is probably harboring some resentment issues about you that you don't have time to unpack--so just walk away. Anyway, if you must travel with said child on said marathon journey, here are my tips:

1. Travel with a nice baby like mine. Like I said, I am hoping to NEVER have to do this again, but the D-unit really came through and was awesome for 98% of the trip.

2. Leave when it's naptime. We made sure Heavy D was thoroughly exhausted before we started our journey and once we got in the car, he and I promptly collapsed into our respective 90-minute naps.

3. Two words: McDonald's Playplace. You are welcome to your righteous Morgan Spurlock-esque blather about childhood obesity, the agonizing death of the Slow Food Movement and the Satanic force that is the double cheeseburger, but at Chez Familymatic, we are ALL ABOUT the Play-Mcfriggin'-Place!! What a masterstroke for parents who have to travel with high-energy kids in the dead of winter when your places-to-exercise-your-offspring options consist of a) the floor of the gas station bathroom--uh, EW!! and b) the vending machineiquarium at the rest area. For those of you who don't know, the Place de Play (sorry about that distinctly non-French use of place, Kat) is an indoor gym-thingy attached to certain McDonald's establishments that is free for you to use for the price of a cup of really bad coffee or an order of unholy good fries.

I will admit that the quality of the Playplace is QUITE variable--the first one we stopped at was clean and not too much of a nasty germ factory but daddymatic dubbed the second Playplace "the petrie dish" and let D crawl around for a grand total of about 3 minutes before the heebie-geebies got the best of him. I vaguely recall something about there being a big life-sized plastic statue of Ronald sitting on a bench and Heavy D apparently attempting several times to grab at some nasty substance that had congealed all over Ronald's thighs, but I have enough Clown Issues without thinking of my baby crotch-diving Ronald McDonald, so I've opted to repress that particular memory. Suffice to say that yes, the quality control on these places is a bit iffy, but hey, I'll take my chances as my child slept for about 6-7 of the 13 hours we were in the car together--an act I lay wholly at the big red feet of Ronald and his minions.

4. Don't try to drive through Washington, DC during rush hour on a Friday afternoon. Duh. If you aren't smart enough to know this, you probably shouldn't even HAVE children, but hey--our learning curve is steeper than most.

5. Bring lots of toys and rotate them out during carseat play. Sing. Share car-appropriate snacks, like cheerios and graham crackers. These things don't actually entertain your child, but you'll feel like you're making some kind of effort which--at least in my case--mitigates the boredom and guilt a little. I would also be willing to lay down the dollaz for some inflight DVD action, but since the videos D watches are only 30 minutes long at most, it seemed silly to drop so much money on a couple hours' respite from the tedium. In hindsigt it seems less silly, but there you are--we were able to make it through without our favorite electronic babysitter.