What I learned from our latest family fun trip:
- Do not feed your child and then let them watch a DVD in a hot car if you’re planning on driving like a New York cabbie in rush hour unless you enjoy stripping your child and the contents of your backseat on the streets of LA like a DEA agent with a van full of Colombian drug lords.
- If you’re going to have someone vomit on you, regurgitated pretzels are the least offensive food item to wear around for a day. In fact, if you forget a sealed bag of clothing coated with regurgitated pretzels in your trunk for a week in the sun, it’s still going to smell mostly like wet pretzels.
- Children today enjoy long car rides even less than we did when we were rugrats–a bi-product of higher expectations and lower parental fear. So if you lose the ability to lull them into a movie coma (maybe because your youngest keeps trying to coat the DVD player with his stomach contents), expect to spend at least 15 minutes of “no, we’re not there yet, but look at that interesting landmark/car/person/dead animal and tell me which profession/fairy/super hero/Monster high girl you would be” diversionary talk for every two minutes of adult conversation or quiet time, during which you will wax nostalgic about the old days when you could travel with cocktails and a tranquilizer gun.
- If your child locks themselves in a bathroom stall with a floor to ceiling door, you’re going to spend some quality time in a public restroom, unless you have experience in hostage negotiation and lock picking. At the very least you should always travel with the tools needed to dismantle a bathroom stall and your own personal maintenance man.
- Husbands and preschoolers need to be fed in 15 minute intervals to prevent grumpiness. Pack your pockets with cereal bars and pizzas. If you can fit a beer in there, even better. However, seven-year old girls require only chocolate and a cute outfit for optimal happiness.
- If you take a competitive athlete on an amusement park ride with any sort of physical challenge, they may get overly excited, forget they’re in an amusement park and irritate less competitive participants (i.e. the portly, asthmatic gentleman and his sullen grandchild next to you.) However the look of unadulterated joy on your
husband’scompetitive athlete’s face will be worth it.
- When using a human shield, one should select a human larger than half your size and not prone to hunching over in fits of giggles. A shield crumpled at your knees will not prevent your cable-knit sweater from absorbing gallons of stagnant log-ride water. On a related note, a wet cable-knit sweater will not help prevent hypothermia on a February evening in Carlsbad.
- Fight the compulsion to finish your child’s dinner and neon-colored dessert unless you enjoy burping up the taste of artificial banana flavored hot dogs for the rest of the night. It is even less delicious than it sounds.
- Driving through East LA on a Friday night is not a good idea unless you’ve lost the will to live. You will be the only sober driver in your own personal game of Frogger. If you’ve ever seen a two-year old play Grand Theft Auto, then you have a pretty good idea of what to expect from your fellow highway occupants.
[Personal Disclaimer: I don’t personally recommend letting a two-year old play Grand Theft Auto. My children are not permitted to steal cars until they are old enough to vote and do the appropriate jail time.]