Going to do a couple newsletters on summer vacation. The statute of limitations has expired.
Thirty years ago I read a column by Mike Ryoko, the legendary writer for the Chicago Tribune. He was talking about a buddy who said he and his new girlfriend were going on a trip to see “if they clicked.” Ryoko’s advice was rent a station wagon, borrow seven kids, and drive to the Grand Canyon. Then see if you “clicked.”
I have been in that station wagon. Every summer. Before cell phones, entertainment centers, or even books on tape. Sure, as the years passed those things came on board, but it was too late. Post-traumatic stress disorder had set in.
When your four-year-old daughter announces she can’t hold it any longer and you are 12 miles from the next off ramp, well, the palms start to get sweaty, the profanity starts streaming, and the SUV with 6 bikes on the back and car top carrier starts to push 10 miles over the speed limit – and I mean the speed limit where they won’t stop you. Not the real speed limit. Now you are 20 miles over the real speed limit. And you don’t even know if she will accept the condition of the first spot you find. Flashing your lights at the Highway Patrol to get out of the way is low percentage.
It changes you.
I believe there should be a statutorily enacted immunity for any parent who “overreacts” on a vacation trip with more than 4 kids in the car. After you arrive, maybe you question if giving high fives to your spouse is the appropriate conclusion to a punitive foray into the backseat. But I didn’t. And an us vs them mentality sets in at about mile 100. It is simply about survival. (I actually went into Best Buy and tried on every set of headphones until I found one that completely blocked out the noise. It looked like I had two sofa pillows on my ears. I bought it.)
Anyway, over the years it got to be where we needed two cars when we arrived. My wife and I were way past waiting for the other to get home from yoga or the beer run. Which meant there were two options for my kids – coming and going.
Now I am the kind of guy who thinks a lot, mostly about cases, but also about philosophical issues, politicians whose butts I personally want to kick – a long, long list – and the book I am never going to write. That means a lot of silence. No radio.
My wife loves noise. Really. At least it seems so to me. So her car was playing music, Harry Potter books on tape, sound tracks from musicals.
So when it came time to choose, her car was packed. My car? It was reserved for kids who had an inappropriate attitude loading up the cars No radio. No talking. No soda at McDonald’s. Maybe even no McDonald’s at all. (For them, not for me.)
My kids begged for reconsideration when they got sentenced to riding with me. But the Supreme Court handed down those sentences – my wife.
Until they got older. My car was no stopping, one 10-minute gas up, and 6 hours door to door. My wife was leaving an hour after me, 3 twenty minute stops, sometimes outlet mall diversions and once, she infamously turned around 2 hours out to “spend another day on the beach.” Teenagers do not like that. But my wife doesn’t care if you misplayed your hand and ended up in her car.
Nowadays my kids have their own kids. A new generation being sentenced to Dad’s car. It’s the American way.