I’m one of those annoying people who gets stressed out before vacations. At least when my kids are involved. Which is usually the case, since there’s no Maria Von Trapp in sight to watch them and make clothing out of curtains while we whisk ourselves away.
In just a few days, we’re getting in the car and driving to The Outer Banks. That’s at least ten hours by car.
Ten hours. Without traffic. Each way.
I realize that many people do the long-drive-with-kids-thing all the time. This will be our first attempt. And I’m skeptical. Because, I don’t know about you guys, but my kids are not what I’d call road warriors. In fact, they often make me a little crazy just driving within a five mile radius of our home. But in a moment of either insanity or drunkenness, I overlooked this detail.
And now departure time is drawing near. So here are the Top 10 Points of Concern (not necessarily in order):
1. The drive. As I mentioned. And no, we don’t have a DVD player in the car. But my engineer husband has assured me that he has fashioned some sort of homemade contraption to keep our iPad in place for optimal kids’ viewing. I am picturing some balsa wood and a bungee cord.
2. The packing. I hate packing. And I since I like to have options, I tend to overpack — which results in a lot of stuff.
3. The mountain of laundry that, despite all my staring and willfulness, just won’t wash and fold itself. Don’t the shiny new front loaders have that feature? I need to get some of those.
4. The fact that there is a birthday in this family to be celebrated between now and then. A birthday belonging to a certain youngest child. And that means I need to get on the stick and ensure that merriment ensues.
5. The dread of my husband’s horrible Sirius radio stations never going out of range on the drive.
6. Did I mention the drive?
7. The more-than-casual curiosity about the availability of wi-fi. You know, because I start to twitch if there’s no signal. Yes, I know it’s America and all. But you just can’t be sure. It would be reckless of me to prematurely rule out the need to tweet using carrier pigeons.
8. Bringing the translucent-white, pasty skin of my whole family ten hours closer to the equator. (See also: Where is the closest natively grown aloe plant? Or ER?)
9. Can the blender at the rental property handle the amount of alcoholic concoctions I plan to prepare and consume, or will a back-up generator of sorts be necessary?
10. How many baby gates defines crazy? My daughter is still a stair risk, and this house — as far as I can tell from the photos — has about 367 steps encompassing multiple levels.
Here’s the thing. It’s all going to be great. We are sharing the house with my brother-in-law, sister-in-law and their four kids. This fact has not been revealed to my children because they will spontaneously combust with excitement. And they will also pepper the ten-plus hour drive with questions about the color of their cousins’ bathing suits, who will get first pass at the Teddy Grahams and who is bunking together.
So the aunt/uncle/cousins component will be in the “pleasant surprise upon arrival” category. Right after we exhaust the “Why the hell are we still in the car and where are we going?” category.
The point is that, despite my preparation anxiety, everyone gets along famously and we’re going to have a fabulous week.
Once the laundry is all done. Once the birthday girl blows out her candles. Once the balsa wood/bungee contraption is built. Once I figure out how to block the 80s British Pop station from Sirius.
And once I pack the industrial-sized blender. Just in case.