Last night, our family spent some time selecting music and movies to download to ipads and phones in preparation for the customary American vacation. (As I wrote that last, the theme music for Chevy Chase’s movie Vacation started playing in my head). We’re leaving in a few days for two weeks of visiting dear friends before participating in a family reunion for my lovely wife’s family.
The movies were straight forward choices, tilted toward Star Wars and recent Disney or Pixar cartoon movies. Music, well, I had to play a good portion of each song before receiving approval from our Aspie and sister. Warmed my heart that most important to our Aspie was that Queen, Bohemian Rhapsody, was included. Such a fantastic sonic and rock music style journey. His sister on the other hand, seemed to have an affinity for 1980s pop such as INXS, Duran Duran, and both have been steeped in U2 (an all-time fave of mine).
Several movie and music downloads later, we have finished with planning two of the activities we hope will keep the kids happy while we experience the car for 6-8 hours a day driving cross country. We have also planned to stop at a Native American site, a plantation (to assist our kids at becoming culturally aware of the seedy underbelly of American capitalism). Alas, no Johnny Cash Museum. Still on my bucket list. But, I made sure to download a good selection of his music for the car. Got to raise my kids right. What do you do to keep everyone sane during extended car rides?
Curiously, our special Aspie has always found the car to be pleasurable. When first born, as directed, we had his car seat facing backwards and he would absolutely wail for the entire time we were in the car. Needless to say, no road trips were taken during those first few months. Once he had gained sufficient weight, we were able to turn his car seat to face forward. And oh what a swift change!
He became calm, expressive, and clearly enjoyed riding in the car. Throughout the years, he has continued to enjoy our family road trips. He has a voracious appetite to learn and experience all he can, often forgoing a meal to continue an activity, much to the concern of his parents. He is obsessed with maps, cars, and trains. I have no sense of direction, but when I am lost while driving, I ask my son, and he tells me how to get to the place we want to go. Our human GPS. Google maps has got nothing on him.
His sister, the opposite. As a baby, hated being in the car, just always wanted to be held by mom. She made me work for her affections. Right she should. One experience camping when she was not yet a year old. We had arrived at our campsite, placed here in a baby’s walker, freeing my wife and I to focus on getting our camp set up. Her brother was digging in the dirt, our special girl was munching on a favorite treat, and dropping crumbs on the ground. It’s what toddlers and baby’s do.
Soon, she was joined by a chipmunk who gamely cleaned the ground of any cracker remnants. However, each time that chipmunk came in for more, our special girl screamed and wailed out of fear. (Picture of chipmunk, above, courtesy of pixabay.com).
As parents, we immediately went into picture taking mode. Neglecting that our child was clearly in distress, we happily and amusingly snapped away. (Sadly, I can’t find the pictures, too many possible storage locations). She has the cutest sour face, just adorable. Happy to report she survived though, likely harbors a subconscious phobia of chipmunks. More importantly, she has grown to love road trips.
We have had the pleasure of experiencing the beauty of this country on multiple cross country road trips. Of being sent off the beaten path by our GPS or maps app only to discover some cultural, historical, or notable societal place worth stopping for an hour or two. On our bucket list is Yellowstone. Assuming the Diablo Cheeto in the White House doesn’t tweet something to set off the super volcano underneath. His powers of destruction are inestimable. As is the joy we experience as a family on these road trips.