Are We There Yet?

August 4, 2015 by becca.lazar No Comments

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In the back the children are slowly waking up. They’ve been sat with their heads lolling against the windows since our early morning departure, framed symmetrically in the rear view mirror. The 6 am departure is a move of tactical brilliance, one that would be applauded by any military general were it not for its precedence on many a family holiday. Firstly, it allows us to beat the traffic out of Cornwall. Secondly, the children normally drift back to sleep allowing us an hour or so of quiet.

We’re off for a week’s holiday – even the Cornish like to get away from it all occasionally – and we’ve chosen somewhere about seven hours away. A bit ambitious with the children, ‘but it’s a learning experience’ replies my wife.

We think we’ve got it covered. When I was a child my parents drove us all the way to the south of France in an epic two day road trip and we survived. At least I think we did. I definitely wasn’t ready to throttle my sister after day one. Besides, we’ve learned from our parent’s mistakes – their successes too – and we’ve bolstered this with handy tips from newspapers and the blogosphere.

There are plenty of snacks dotted around the car. We’ve got sandwiches, fruit, carrots, crisps, pork pies, chewy sweets, crunchy sweets, chocolatey sweets – everything you could possibly think of. And we’ve hidden some new games and toys, ready to whip out before they gnaw through the seatbelts.

The eldest is awake. She stares out the window, dazed. ‘Where are we?’ is the first question. We’re still in Cornwall. ‘How much further?’ The second question. It’s begun. Apparently, the average time between families departing on holiday and the words ‘there’, ‘yet’ and ‘are we’ being mentioned is two and a half hours. I glance at the clock.

‘A long way yet, Honey,’ My wife replies, twisting round in her seat.

For a while she’s sated and watches the scenery sleepily. The youngest snorts himself awake in his booster seat and we repeat the performance. Our daughter snorts a little derisibly at the repetition and he throws a glare at her.

She pulls a picture book out of her rucksack and starts flicking through the pages. We’ve allowed them to pack their own in car bag – the blogs say this gives them some ownership over the journey – but most of their choices get weeded out and replaced before they pass check point parent. Our son rummages through his own bag. I watch him in the mirror interestedly, but also a little warily. Out comes a ball.

‘Oh no, not in the car.’ My wife holds out her hand. A few tense moments later she pops it in her lap and offers a chewy sweet in exchange.

‘Can I have the IPad?’ He counters. We glance at each other. This is a line – hold off the electronics as long as possible. The new Lego comes out. We’ve got this sorted.

An hour later comes the second of the three unholy trinity of travel sentences.

‘I need the toilet.’ The services are only a few miles away and we breathe a sigh of relief. Regular breaks are good to keep morale going. We’re almost there when traffic slows to a crawl. My fingers grip the steering wheel and my knuckles turn a tense ivory colour. Civil unrest is barely contained in the back. More sweets are offered round, more games are unveiled. We even consider turning to BBC Radio 1.

Later on, after legs have been stretched, bladders emptied and coffee has been drunk peace has resumed. I pat my wife’s thigh – we’ve got this sussed. We’ve played it by the book. There’s a science to this.

An audible sigh blows a gust boredom from the back seat. A sea of plastic toys and wrappers covers the back seat and it finally arrives…

‘Daaaaaaaaad, are we there yet?’

Headphones get passed back alongside a tablet, a laptop and a wallet of DVDs. You have to love modern technology: I wished we’d had all that when I was growing up.

 

 

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