We’ve been on a few road trips with my son: Charlotte, NC, Little Rock, AR and Phenix City, Alabama. We drove to Estes Park, CO last week for two of my denomination’s meetings. We traveled as a family–me, my wife, Dawn, and my son, Bryce. I learned a few things.
- Pack as carefully as possible. And even then your kid will have more bags than you. We took one huge suitcase for all the days we were away–for me, my wife, and my son’s clothing. Bryce still had a diaper bag, a shopping bag, a tote bag that usually finds a home in our bathroom, a few things in his mother’s purse, and stuff in my book bag.
- There’s no time to sleep. When you’re driving, you have to stay awake, right? Well, actually this point is about my son. He’s pretty established on a routine for sleep, has been for longer than he wasn’t as a newbie. But time zones disrupt sleeping rituals, especially when the zone you’re in is behind the one you’re used to. That plus the schedule we kept while away demolished the routine the boy knew.
- Small people can’t do much at 15 months. My son has many talents. He plays the guitar with a shovel. He sings songs that only he can understand. He picks up his spoon and leaves most of his food in the bowl. He does a lot. But we could do very little at the YMCA where these meetings were held. He couldn’t ride a horse or climb a mountain. He hardly stayed still while my wife created a craft. As much as I wanted to, doing things as a family was almost as difficult there as doing them here because he’s small.
- My son’s an extrovert. Bryce has been greeting people for months now. He even waves at people in church, like I do, but with bigger smiles. We’re trying to figure how this works since me and Dawn are introverts. As we got out of an elevator at the hotel, one woman we didn’t know said, “Oh, he makes his parents speak to everybody.” She was partially right and half way wrong at the same time. I told her, “He learns how to say hello from his parents.”
- Toys help. My wife has gotten good at the toy thing. I don’t think of toys. They’re small, take up space, and usually don’t fit well into my one-bag rule. But she had bags on the rear floor with toys, toys in his car seat, and toys hanging from the handrails above his head. She also had that dogged pacifier that we’ve spent the last few days working back out of Bryce’s system.
- Expect surprises. One surprise was how my son tripped and fell up the sidewalk. He thought he could run straight when the walkway slanted upward. As I pulled him up, he was screaming, dressed with a bruise on the tip of his nose. Another was how many more bags we would bring back thanks to the generosity and love of Bryce’s aunt. She added to our crowded trunk a huge truck in a box and a shopping bag almost as big as our luggage.