Ah, home sweet home. We have just returned from our winter road trip from Vermont to Florida to visit the grandparents. A full two day, each way odyssey. My family loves our annual seven people cooped up in a car 24 hour road trip.
Can you feel the sarcasm?
Ah, Florida! That wonderful, buggy and muggy, hot and humid, glorious
southern state. While it may be home to some lovely beaches and an oversized, rather rich mouse, Florida is also the proud owner of more Senior Special-Early Bird buffets, retirement communities and horseshoe tournaments than any other state in the Union. Our parents are happy there. No problem, we shall come to visit once a year, dragging the rug rats along ever so happily.
The kids call my parents Papa and Grandma and my husband’s parents Grandpa and Grandma Schmitt. My older two boys always remember quite well how their Papa hands out the dollar bills when they arrive, during their stay, and before they leave ($mart boys). Papa also has some great quotes that the kids love to snicker about – enduring them is the tradeoff for all that money. The most popular one, that really gets my guys going, is when their Papa is very thirsty and about to down a big glass of milk or root beer. As he lifts his glass, he always announces, “Over the lips, over the gums, look out stomach, here it comes!” Of course, being a well paid audience, they indulge Papa with a laugh that would make an outsider believe that’s the first time he’s delivered that line. Or this one. When Papa is watching television, don’t dare step in front of him. “Hey, you make a better door than a window!”
Again, laughs all around.
The children’s hungry tummies remember their way to Grandma’s kitchen.
After Papa has shooed them away from the television, Grandma begins pulling out all the snacks and goodies. I nicely remind my Mother that dinner is only an hour away, but she suddenly develops a hearing impairment as she continues to hand out candy, cookies and chips for a nice, nutritious pre-dinner snack.
Visiting Grandpa and Grandma Schmitt was interesting too. You see, while he may be well into his 80’s, Grandpa is a bit of a fitness buff and the hottest octogenarian on the block. My kids treasure Grandpa’s treadmill. These same kids who develop rickets when asked to walk their toys from one room to the next, love to sneak into his room and start running, which they did for hours.
Then there is Grandpa’s love of music. The kids think he is really cool until he cranks up the bass on his sound system. Ah, the beautiful sound of an Opera. My guys run for cover when Grandpa asks if anyone would enjoy hearing some good music. Obviously Grandpa has no idea the current definition of the word. Just wait until these kids get older.
Grandma Schmitt knows a lot about children and mothering. She had seven of her own. The boys’ father was the sixth of those seven. Grandma Schmitt likes to make sure that the children get plenty of rest and shut eye and as the sun is setting and night time comes, Grandma starts checking the clock – every few minutes. About 7:30 p.m. she is wondering what time the kiddies are going nighty-nite. Poor woman, they are just getting revved up.
Despite all the hassles, low sleep, and change in the kids daily routine, we wouldn’t change our yearly winter road trip to visit the grandparents for anything. We miss and love them dearly and wish we could be together more often.
But thank goodness now it’s their turn to make a road trip to Vermont.
By Paula Schmitt
Ah, summertime. It’s that time of year once again to pack up the family and head out in the car on a road trip. So delightful! I just can’t wait! Every year I plan this road trip – whether it’s two or six hours cooped up together, nice and close, in the car; WE ARE GOING TO HAVE A GOOD TIME, DARNIT!
The car is ready and packed (and I do mean PACKED). We head out for a week’s vacation to the lake and the sun is as bright as my mood. However, by the time we reach the expressway (a total of fifteen minutes), the clouds begin to form as I hear a whining from the rear of the vehicle.
“I NEED TO GO POOPIE!”
“NO you don’t.” I singsong with a nice big smile.
“Oh yes I doooooo.”
OH. MY. GOD. It’s starting already, only a quarter of an hour into our trip. (Think happy thoughts, think happy thoughts.) Knowing there is no negotiating with the sphincter of a child, we pull to the nearest rest area.
Twenty minutes later, back on the open road, “Are we there yet? I’m getting tired of sitting in this car!”
Where are my earplugs? I swear I packed my earplugs.
Ten minutes later, “Are we almost, almost there yet now?”
We manage to travel halfway through our journey before making another pit stop for potty and snacks. Tanks on full, we pile back into the car, totally refreshed and ready to get on the road again.
“Mommy, Nick doesn’t have his seat belt on!”
Uh-Oh. Another cloud forms over my sunny disposition. Nick has violated the SEAT BELT RULE. This is, without a doubt, the biggest way to both get in trouble and really push Mommy’s button. Storm clouds in full formation over my mood, I turn around and thunder.
“Get that seatbelt on right now or else, mister!!!!”
I then pull out our list of rules for traveling and read them aloud (for the fifth time today). I swear I can literally see them going in one ear and right out the other.
When I am done reading our rules for road trips I turn on some nice, relaxing music, lean my chair back and close my eyes.
“Mooooooommy, Tony is sticking his tongue out at us!!”
THAT’S IT! I holler the words from the Holy Grail of parenting, “Do you boys want Daddy to pull this car over and for me to come back there right this minute?”
I have turned into a crazy woman, panting heavily and foaming at the mouth. I then glance over at my husband, who is conveniently relieved of all parenting duties by virtue of the steering wheel. He smiles, asks for a drink and reminds me that we only have ONE HOUR until we are there.
Over the next hour there are spills (Here’s your drink dear. Oops!), fart wars (I hang my head out the window like a slobbering canine), more potty breaks (You people never pee this often at home!), and a spitting-on-each-other fight (Stop it now, or walk the rest of the way!).
I try to keep thinking positive … we are almost there, we are almost there. I repeat it like a mantra and envision myself relaxing with a book, down by the lake. So peaceful. We are almost there. We are almost there.
I am yanked from my trance by Daddy’s announcement, “Here we are everyone! At the lake!”
There is no response. It is quiet. We slowly turn around and see four sleeping little angels off in la-la land.
I look at my husband with a sneaky little smile, roll down the windows, and we run to the lake hand in hand.