Well the third annual Road-trip is officially on the books and I can honestly say it’s been the best one so far. Which is saying a lot, because we spent more time in the car than any other year.
32 accumulative hours, to be exact.
Not that I’m counting or anything.
As I told you guys last week, Amber and I decided to go big this year and brave the 12 hour drive to Disneyland. Which was really more like a 16 hour drive because CHILDREN. We spent 4 eight-hour days in the car (round-trip) and I’m happy to report that the kids handled it amazingly well. There was no melting down. There was no fighting. There weren’t even any complaints of hogging air-vents, or “she won’t stop looking at me!” like we’ve experienced in years past
And bonus: we listened to the entire Hamilton musical on the way, because what the heck else are you supposed to do in a car for 8 hours? Now, I should pause here to admit that I have been extremely resistant to all of the hype surrounding Hamilton. I had no intention of getting sucked in. I had no intention of caring at all. I certainly had no intention of becoming one of those people who are always blithering on about a musical and insisting other people listen to it.
But you guys.
It’s so good.
It really is incredible.
I had chills more than once listening to it.
It was kind of like that one time I thought I’d casually watch just the first episode of Scandal, and the next thing I knew it was 3am and I was in too deep to ever turn back. I’m afraid that Hamilton, much like Scandal, is a polarizing trend. You’re either in, or you’re out. There is no gray area.
We were able to finish off each day of driving with a bit of swimming, either at the beach or our hotel’s pool, which is always a big win with the kids. I daresay that the most popular (and least expensive) road-trip activity every year is simply lying on the beach with a good book while we let the kids run at the ocean like savages. Everybody wins.
Once we finally made our way to Anaheim we visited with our dear friend from college, spent two whole days at Disneyland/California Adventure Parks (logging over 50,000 steps, which definitely counts as cardio), and ate our body weight in churros. Except for me, because I don’t do churros. But that’s a story for another day.
The kids had so much fun together, that Amber and I may or may not have shed a few happy tears watching them. There was a moment during The Amazing World of Color show that they were all lined up on the railing with their little chins resting on their hands, watching with their eyes wide in amazement, when “Forever Young” started playing on the loudspeaker, and I dissolved into a puddle of tears. Partly because any pictures set to music will make me cry and partly because I realized that they won’t be forever young and this road-trip tradition has a shelf life. Luckily I never leave home without my little packet of tissues so I just stood there quietly dabbing my eyes and memorizing the moment.
While it was by far our best road-trip yet, there were still quite a few things we learned the hard way this year.
Let’s recap, shall we? Just for fun.
- To always double check the alarm clock. The first morning we were both rudely awakened at 6am by a pre-set alarm in both of our hotel rooms. What? Why? No. Just no. Then for the next two mornings in a row Amber drug herself to the coffee bar reporting that she’d hardly slept at all because she could faintly hear some strange Spanish music drifting through her window all night long. Who were these people? What in God’s name were they listening to, and didn’t they ever sleep? It wasn’t until the third day that she realized the music was coming from her own alarm clock. Right next to her bed. To Amber’s credit, she laughed just as hard as I did over it, which is admirable because losing sleep (especially her own) is not the sort of thing that would usually strike her as funny before 9am. Or maybe ever.
- We can trust each other in our lowest moments of parenting. There was a 15 minute period of time as we neared the front of the line for Pirates of the Caribbean when my son…well, there’s no better way to say it than he lost his ever-loving mind. He’d agreed to go on the ride, waited calmly for the better part of an hour, then caught one glimpse of the dark murky waters and completely freaked out. It was an episode somewhere between a tantrum and a panic attack. He screamed, he cried, he pleaded, and he physically tried to attach himself to the railing while yelling something about having the rudest mother in the world. I have never been more mortified. Or conflicted. I knew he would be fine. I knew the ride wouldn’t be too much for him and that he’d probably even like it. I’d given him a choice beforehand, and he’d agreed, but in that moment I honestly didn’t know if I was doing the right thing by nudging him out of his comfort zone or if I was in fact the worst parent ever. He was so hysterical that by the time we boarded the ride, I had tears running down my own cheeks. To my best friend’s credit, she was a safe place in that moment. During the whole fiasco she was quietly supportive, acted completely normal, distracted the older kids with conversation, and she never once made me feel like she was an audience to our spectacle. Parenting is personal, and confusing as heck sometimes, and having the judge-free support of friends is pure gold. It also bears mentioning that Pirates became Jaxon’s favorite ride of all, and he went on to ride it multiple times FOR THE FUN OF IT. So. If you need me I’ll just be high-fiving myself for not totally screwing him up.
- Speaking of low moments in parenting…we also learned that we absolutely cannot, under any circumstance, make eye contact if one of us is trying not to laugh. Halfway through our first day at Disneyland we were all walking along happily and the next thing we knew, 6-year-old Violet turned suddenly to her sister with a hot fury and accusingly wailed that she’d called her “a wierdo.” She was so suddenly and personally affronted by this usage of the “W” word, that her carrying-on stopped short only of donning ashes and sackcloth and lamenting in the streets. By the time we sorted out what was even wrong, Violet’s sobs had risen at least three decibels above the general noise of the crowd. Baffled, Amber and I made the fatal mistake of looking each other in the eye, when the ridiculousness of the situation became more than we could handle. We both immediately burst into uncontrollable laughter. Not wanting to exacerbate Violet’s indignation, we turned our backs until we could get a hold of ourselves enough to sort out the drama. And so we stood like that for the better part of two minutes, turning our backs to the shrieks of a distraught 6 year old, while our shoulders shook in silent laughter. So if you happened to be one of the people that walked by us during that time, just remember what we said about no judging, okay? We gathered ourselves, ordered apologies, and made all the correct speeches about kindness and name calling. Although evidently it fell on deaf ears, because two days later Jaxon burst into tears at a sushi restaurant for the very same reason. Apparently “weirdo” is the lowest form of insult to a kindergartener.
- My sense of direction is still intact. And by that I mean, my lack of a sense of direction. As you can imagine, Disneyland is extremely crowded, so we developed a system early on. Whenever we set off towards a ride, Amber would charge ahead as the navigator and I would fall behind as the corrallor, making sure all the kids were accounted for. On the rare occasion that I found myself in the front, I cheerily led us in the exact wrong direction. Every single time. It didn’t matter if I was trying to find my way to the bathroom, a parking lot, or our hotel. I never once got it right. Amber would chuckle and shake her head and I’d shrug and remind her that our system works for a reason so why mess with it. In my own defense, I would like to point out that when I’m alone I actually do amazingly well with directions. Unfortunately I just have no way of ever proving this.
- No matter how much time our kids have together, it will never be enough. They spend the entirety of their time together, trying to finagle more time together. Lunches turn into dinners turn into slumber parties. Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall, the first question of the day is usually if they can see the Boersma girls. They fight like siblings sometimes, but even when they’re on each other’s last nerve, they’ll still get excited because “we get to eat lunch together!” After spending 6 days together around the clock, we pulled into have driveway and they spent 10 solid minutes begging for one more slumber party.
Bless it all.