Posted by: Jamie Stamm | June 3, 2008

Road tripping

It was just over an hour into our trip to Asheville this past weekend when I remembered why we don’t visit my in-laws more often.

“Are we almost there?” Cera asked.

“Are you kidding me?” I thought. “We still have more than three hours to go.”

Yes, I understand that 4 1/2 hours is an incredibly long time for a 5-year-old to be in a car – heck, I’m not a huge fan of the ride myself. But we’re daily commuters – my kids have a million things to entertain them in my van. Each has an art desk stocked with crayons, colored pencils, markers (for Cera), stickers (for Anthony), coloring books and notepads – that is, when said materials aren’t scattered about the car. Cera also has a Leapster hand-held gaming system with several games, and for this past weekend’s trip, we allowed the portable DVD player (I don’t keep it in the van on a regular basis because I like to encourage conversation, and movies seem to turn my children into zombies). We also have a ridiculously large collection of children’s CDs, some of which my husband and I actually enjoy and would be willing to listen to on long car rides.

All this, and Cera still was dreadfully bored just one-quarter of the way into our trip. Oh, no …

I’m not sure how she made it through the next 45 minutes, at which point we stopped for dinner. Both kids were exceptionally well-behaved at the restaurant (a rarity – probably because they weren’t in the van) and they actually cleaned their plates (another unusual occurrence).

It was almost 9 p.m. when we piled back into the van, and I told myself that maybe, with full bellies, Cera and Anthony would fall asleep.

But not my kids. They’re night owls, just like their mom and dad.

And apparently, their tummies weren’t as overflowing as I thought.

“I’m hungry,” Cera said around 9:30.

So we stopped for gas – and a bag of Cheetos. We put on a new movie. And we kept on trucking.

For about 10 minutes, it was quiet, save for the sound of crunching and the strains of “Peter Pan.”

And then the questions resumed.

“Are we there yet?”

“How much further?”

“Are we ever going to be there?”

And then, finally, as we were getting off the exit closest to my mother-in-law’s house, I heard a slight snore. One down – Anthony was asleep.

But not Cera. She gazed wide-eyed as we passed by Sonic and Trio Pizza. She was still awake when her daddy produced his license at a highway patrol checkpoint just minutes from his mom’s house. And she was alert as ever as we pulled into her Grandmama’s driveway.

At which point her brother promptly opened his eyes again as well.

Let’s just say it was a long night.

I must admit that the drive home from Asheville was much better. We left at mid-afternoon, and both Anthony and I sacked out for two hours, while Cera played with one of her dragons and Jerry rocked out to Pearl Jam. We stopped in Winston-Salem for almost five hours to visit with my parents, and when we got back on the road, the kids quietly watched “Peter Pan” (again, even though we had brought three other movies with us) and then both fell asleep.

I share this story because I’m seeking your prayers. It’s summer, and we’ll be on the road five of the next six weekends, including another trip to Asheville.

I hope we all survive.

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