Saturday, November 27, 2010

24, Family Style

24 hours in the car. That's just getting there and getting back. I am not Michelle Duggar. I don't travel with a list of fun songs we can sing or prepared to quiz my kids on the histories of the states we traverse. Mostly,  I huddle against the front heated seat, thank Heaven for the invention of DVD players, and cling to the hope that one of those all-too-brief respites of quiet will erupt in the back seat.

Coloring books get us through the first hour. Then Mama and Daddy cave and put in a movie. Three hours in, things have gone pretty well. (Mama's not looking for liquor stores just off the interstate. Yet.) We watch How to Train Your Dragon, a universal favorite. 

HtTYD finishes and we have not quite enough time for another flick plus the kids need to start winding down since we are spending the night in a hotel. You know, exotic and exciting for the six and under set who have not yet developed volume control for the larynx and cause disturbances for other guests.

So the Pirate invents a travel game. 

"Mama, I have a dragon in my head. Know what he looks like?"

The swollen, rusty remnants of the blue harvest moon wink at me from just over the Blue Ridge mountains. Time was the moon and I would flirt with each other in quiet until it grew too silver and important to talk to the likes of me. No such luck tonight.

"No, sweetie. I have no idea. Tell me about the dragon." Pleasepleaseplease don't let this be one of those topics he gets looped on.

"His tail is two miles long and his fangs are one mile long. The moon looks kind of like his eye."

Ha! The moon has often been my dragon's eye. A sleepy dragon, waking just enough to open one eye and look me over. It's kind of a cool moment of connection.

"Do you have a dragon in your mind, Mama?"


"What does he look like?"

"SHE is sometimes glittery black, but sometimes she is copper, like a new penny. Her eyes look like the moon, too. Her wings are like bat wings but very beautiful."

"Daddy? Do you have a dragon?"

"Yep. He has a fluffy blue tail, he is blue and white, and he has a blue button nose."

Pirate giggles. Then he asks the Princess what her dragon looks like.

"Pank." (Really, I swear we say "pink" despite any and all claims of redneck heritage but Princess persists in "pank.") "Wif pank polka dots and pank wings."

"My dragon is born in a thundercloud and that's where he lives. Where does your dragon live, Mama?"

Mama's dragon lives in a volcano. Daddy's lives in the dryer lint. Princess' lives in a pink castle.

"My dragon's weakness is rain. He doesn't like it." An unfortunate circumstance for a dragon who resides in thunderclouds, but there you have it. "Does your dragon have a weakness, Mama?"

"Ice. That's why she lives in a volcano."

"What about yours, Daddy?"

"Dryer sheets."

Pirate asks Princess what her dragon's weakness is. I wait with bated breath, wondering what could possibly threaten such a terrifying amalgamation of Pepto-Bismol colored horror.

"Two seven eight," Princess replies, deadly serious.

Fifteen minutes of that road trip were high quality family fun. I even felt like a pretty good mom. And despite meeting Grandpa and "Auntsy" (the three year old contraction of "Aunt Nancy"), pony rides, and a house full of cats and musical instruments, Pirate's favorite part was the road trip. Because we were all in the car together.

It melted my grinchy heart. Or maybe that was just the seat heater.


  1. LOL I LOVE THIS! (Seriously. Quite awesome.)

  2. You can't fool me, Lydia. You just like that we watched How To Train Your Dragon.

  3. Aw!

    I used to love car trips as a kid, but I also loved staring out the window and being in my own little world. Don't really know if I was quiet or rowdy. Probably yeeling about my brother teasing me all the time and making life a general hell for my parents. I'll have to ask Mom.

  4. LOL! You caught me. I'm really really REALLY into dragons at the moment. In fact, my latest short story pub is about dragons. For realz. And my son and I have been rattling off quotes from that movie ALL. WEEKEND.

  5. I grew up with three brothers, and the family road trips sent my mother to an early grave.

    Srsly, thanks for an entertaining post.

  6. @ Stephen: Oh, Lordy. Four boys in the car would do me in completely. Although now we have Xanax. I don't think I would be too proud to use it.

  7. I think I just fell in love with your husband. OK, maybe it's just an infatuation.

    We are off to Vegas on Saturday morning. We leave at 5 a.m. and roll in around 2:30 p.m. after lunch in Barstow, CA at the McDonald's that resides in some old train cars. Our longest car day ever was from Vegas to Santa Fe, about 12 hours of desert. That's a long stretch, that is.

    When we get very bored, I threaten the Alphabet Game. It's where we take a topic (say, camping or amusement parks or trucks or whatever) and think of a word for that topic that begins with each letter of the alphabet. Special dispensation for X: the letter X can appear anywhere in the word, not just at the beginning.

    Lately the boys have latched onto Twenty Questions. They are very good at it.

  8. A McDonald's in old train cars? That is SO COOL! Ours are all very generic.

    12 hours of desert drive would kill me. And my husband is indeed very loveable.