Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Car Games

Wendy and I went on a little weekend excursion.

It was an eleven hour drive. Brave of me to even attempt it, because Wendy has never been on such a long drive before.

"Why don't we just fly?" she asked, when I tried to explain to her how long it was going to take to drive it. Spoiled little thing. We'd always rather put out the extra money to fly than endure taking her on a loooooong car ride -- but now she's seven, and really ought to be able to tolerate a trip like that, right?

Now she's always good in the car. But again, she'd never gone more than maybe 3-4 hrs in the car before either... so we had no idea how she'd deal with this.

I picked her up at lunchtime Friday, from school. I explained to her that it would be late at night when we reached our destination. Long after dark, I said.

I brought lots to keep her occupied. Paper and colored pencils for drawing or writing stories. STACKS of books. Her DS. My laptop and some movies.

And the first three hours went by splendidly, with not a word of complaint from the back seat at all.

And then it started.

"Are we there yet? I'm tired. I can't sleep because I'm uncomfortable. Why can't we stop for awhile? My back hurts. My legs hurt. I can't get comfortable."

I was seriously considering turning the car around and going home. After all, we were still closer to home than we were our destination and if she was this grumbly after three hours, how would we ever survive the next EIGHT?

She quieted for a few minutes after I made that comment, after begging me NOT to turn around and go home, and then she said, "It's not looking very dark outside."

"That's because it's 2:30 in the afternoon!!!!!" I exclaimed. "School isn't even out yet!!" How could she possibly think we were almost there and I had been mistaken about it being dark when we got there!?

I searched my mind, trying to remember just how my brother, sister, and I entertained ourselves on our long car trips during childhood vacations, and suddenly I remembered: car games.

We played finding letters in alphabetical order on signs. We each picked a color and counted cars passing us to see who got the most in her color. We played I Spy. We played "I went to Grandma's house" naming the items we took in abc order and recalling all previously named items until her little brain just about exploded.

And then we sang. We sang and we sang and we sang. Her mother will surely be SO pleased with me whenever she discovers that I taught her daughter 99 Bottles of Beer Pop on the Wall... ;)

And she never made another complaint the whole rest of the way there. Nor did she ever utter a moan or a groan the entire eleven hours home. As a matter of fact, when we reached my house, I said to her, "Look who's here!" (I had arranged with her mother by phone to come get her so they'd know when we were nearing home.)

She looked, saw her mother's car in my driveway, and shrieked happily, "Mommy!" Then she gasped, and burst into tears. "NOOOOOOOOOOOOO! I don't WANT to go home yet!!!!"

Eleven hours in the car and she wasn't ready to be home yet?

My, how car games work wonders!

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