Thursday, May 13, 2010

Notes From a Road Trip with Five Munchkins

Thursday morning: Pierre arrives with rental van, nine seats, all rave, cool!

Install kids, drive 30 minutes, first potty break: actually it was a "Arthur is going to barf break," but everyone except Lily took advantage of the break to potty in the grass. (This is France, no gas stations along the way on small country roads.)

Drive 30 more minutes, potty break no.2 because Lily did not go the first time. This time we stop in a grocery store where you have to ask a cashier for the key, but it is relatively clean. Everyone decides they really need to go again, even Puck, two and a half, and he takes half an hour, singing, with me crouched on the floor holding on to him, trying to make sure nothing but my shoes actually touches the floor. I declare a moratorium on potty breaks until Toulouse.

Can't turn on the radio because we're listening to the lovely melody of the GPS unit telling us how to drive a route we've taken hundreds of times in the past...Upside of GPS unit; Puck now knows how to say "turn left" or tournez a gauche as well as "keep to your right", etc. with a perfectly neutral accent.

Pierre gives in and lets me turn on the CD player for a time. During this time and later, on the way home, when he has stashed the GPS in his suitcase because he realized he could probably make it home without it and besides I was making fun of him, the kids learn two new songs. We ended up listening to a compilation of country music that belongs to Papy. Reason: out of the CDs I grabbed on the way out the door, the B-52s ended up being too wild, Suzanne Vega too boring and the Deep Purple box was empty. So they requested and re-requested "I Never Promised You a Rose Garden," to which we all ended up knowing all of the words. Except that I broke their little hearts when I told them that the line after, "Come along now and let's be jolly," was not "Deck the halls with boughs of holly," but "life shouldn't be so melancholy." What was I thinking? The second one probably earns me THE worst mother of the decade award, but it was such a relief not to hear them fighting for a little while, that I gave in, besides, it's probably a lesson in American country culture, right? They all sang along uproariously to "I Gotta Get Drunk and I Sure Do Regret It." At least they regret it.

In-car knitting; between monitoring spats and doling out sips of water, I knit the upper part of a new pair of socks for Alienor. It is a gorgeous self-striping and self-patterning wool in shades of purple; Wisdom Yarns, Marathon Socks Yarn in San Francisco; pretty, pretty, pretty, thank you, E., who gifted me the yarn.

In-car eating; none, are you nuts? It's a rental! I did send back bites of chocolate, to be put directly in one's mouth, from time to time, but that comes under the category of medication rather than food. I needed the chocolate and they figured out I was getting it out of the glove compartment, so when I opened it, they would beg it.

Next trip; July, distance; twice what we did this time. What I'll do differently? No liquids for 48 hours before leaving, choose CDs intentionally, and figure out an intravenous method of delivering my chocolate.

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