Oh, it sounded like such a great idea at the time. My son and daughter-in-law were heading north with me for yet another foray into my late mother’s house. We did the math. The two of them, their four foster kids and me — yes, we would all fit in their mini-van.
The kids range in age from 17 months to 17. The three bigger kids had the back seat; either my son or daughter-in-law rode in the center seat next to the toddler, depending on who was driving. I had the seat of honor, the front passenger seat, due I’m sure to my advanced age. Or that I’m such a bad influence on small children they wanted to keep space between me and them.
We did great on the trip up, which took place as evening turned into night. Getting everyone into the hotel and into bed at 1 a.m. wasn’t as bad as we feared, and we all slept like rocks.
Our goal was to not only do some more sorting and sifting, but to get the few pieces of furniture I took into a storage unit because an estate auction is scheduled. The guy at the storage place was really nice, the price was less than I expected, and we accomplished the feat using a cousin’s pick-up and my sister’s mini-van and small utility trailer.
My son and my cousin’s husband did the heavy lifting and toting. I suspect evil things were said about me as they rolled away, just the two of them in the truck, but even exhausted and dirty, we all played nice.
The pool at the hotel proved to be an excellent venue for wearing the kids out again, maybe too good. Come Sunday morning, only one was up when my son ran me to the house to start working again.
Once again, there were unexpected discoveries and yes, lots of stuff that went into trash bags. I was a good girl when the call came that the van was leaving. I finished the box I was on and met them outside for the requisite family photo in which we all appear a bit dirty and/or disheveled.
We began the trip home in high spirits. Alas, it’s 250 miles and we rolled the road during the daylight hours. The small disputes soon began over who was hogging one particular electronic game system and why everyone had to listen to a CD of songs chosen by my son.
We did pretty well until, oh, 125 miles or so from home. My son was driving and I was his navigator as we tooled through Columbus. Unfortunately, at a crucial intersection, one of the kids got the toddler squealing and shouting loud enough that talking was hard, and we went the wrong way.
The meltdown began with a loud scolding, tears, complaints and me freaking out because I wasn’t sure if we could hit the road we needed to from the interstate we were on. Thanks to cell phone directions, we corrected the error and headed back south.
By then we had one with a threatening stomach because of the curves, shouts of “I’m hungry!” from the back row and the little one tossing everything he was handed at someone or something.
Things improved after we stopped and ate. The kids all had a chance to move, we got our tummies full and it seemed like the worst was over. My daughter-in-law took the wheel and my son took baby duty.
Which would have been so much better if the sleepy little one hadn’t lost his sippy bottle and kept bawling. But that wasn’t what hit my son’s last nerve. It was the discussion of, uh, bodily functions from the back seat.
I could hear a little of my past self in his voice when he shouted “If I hear the word poop one more time, you all lose TV for a month!”
So how was the trip? Great. Because as frustrating as they are at the time, it’s moments like these that live on in familial memories and bring back nostalgic laughter in a decade or so.
CATHIE SHAFFER can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.