I had packed all sorts of goodies into the kids' backpacks to keep them out of each other's hair (and ours) during the two seven hour road trips--art supplies, movies, books, toys--but this only worked for about 300 of the 400 miles. You can guess the kinds of observations/complaints/ questions we covered along the way:
"How many more hours til we get there?" This was approximately 15 minutes after we vacated our parking space in front of the house. After hearing this four or five times, Mr. Peevie and I took to pointing to the trip timer, after telling the kids not to ask again until the timer displayed seven dot dot zero zero.
We also had iterations of the following:
"I spilled ______ on my pants!"
"I have to go to the bathroom!"
"He won't let me have a turn with the neck pillow!"
'Her I-pod is too loud!"
"The movie is too loud!"
"Ewww! Somebody farted!"
"He keeps putting his feet on my armrest!"
"Turn it back on!" "I don't want to see the scary part!!"
"His feet stink!""What's a 'Cratchet'?" Some of the vocabulary from Charles Dickens' The Christmas Carol, that we were listening to on CD, was unfamiliar to the short people.
Finally we reached our intermediate destination. We had requested adjoining rooms; they gave us adjacent rooms. I envisioned kids sneaking out and heading down to the lounge for a late-night Shirley Temple. We moved to adjoining rooms. This was the most separation we'd have the entire trip. I treasured it.
Day two: We drove through constant rain and thick fog, which made our close mini-van quarters seem even closer. More than six hours later, we arrived at our hotel home for the next four days, and discovered that our suite was an excellent size...for two people.
I do not parent well in tiny spaces. Too much proximity shortens my frustration fuse and diminishes my tolerance for noise, especially the bickering variety. My vocabulary withers to terse commands, primarily "Stop!" and "Don't!"
We tried to moderate our loud family dynamic to fit the various cubicles we found ourselves confined to--cars, hotel rooms, restaurants, and my parents' small-for-10-people living room, but in the end we just annoyed our family members and frustrated each other. We're like a herd of wildebeest on the plains of the Serengeti: we need our space to roam and run and roar.
Thank the little baby Jesus--we finally made it home. I practically wept. I do love my kids, I swear--but any more togetherness, and I'd be posting this from Crazyville.
I hope your holiday travels and family times brought you great quantities of joy.