My three-year-old daughter amazes me every single day, but she really outdid herself last week, when she endured a 2,000-mile car trip with nary a fuss.
Sure, there were copious "Are we there yet?"s during the two-day drive to Baton Rouge for a friend's wedding and during the two-day drive back. But there were no tears, no attempted car seat escapes, not even anything thrown.
We lucked out with this kid, big time.
I'll admit we leaned on technology for some help here. My husband, who was one of five children, was adamantly against movies in the car. Kids should dream up their own diversions, he said, and that's a noble sentiment. But as an only child myself, I knew that after hour four or so, you really start to run out of ideas, no matter how imaginative a kid you are. With no brothers to punch or breathe on or look at or tattle on, and with parents up front who can only take so much "I Spy" before their sanity shreds, you gotta do something. So at the very last minute, the night before we left, I borrowed a portable DVD player from a friend.
We made it all the way to Baton Rouge without using it, mainly because that leg of the trip was just before the end of Daylight Saving Time, so most of the trip was done in daylight, allowing Nora to read books, play with toys and look out the window as much as she wanted. But on the way back, we'd changed our clocks and we got a slow start, so we stopped for dinner in darkness, with several hours of driving still ahead. So we fired up the DVD player (after using it as bribery to get her to eat the chicken fingers she'd sworn she wanted, of course) and … magic. She giggled along to episodes of "Olivia" while we grownups up front listened to some NPR and music and, gasp!, conducted conversations.
We try to limit screen time in our lives, and we don't want to dull our daughter's imagination by blaring a TV at her for stuff like a 10-minute ride to the grocery store. But for emergencies (and yes, two full days of driving one way, only to turn around and drive two full days back counts as an emergency), technology saved the day. And I'm perfectly OK with that.
(I should also give thanks for ice cream, which we stopped for every day of the drive. Ostensibly, it was for Nora. But it kept me from throwing stuff, too.)