My very best gift - EVER!!!
1 April 2013
One of the very best gifts I ever got for myself, wasn’t even for me.
It was the various MP3 players that my kids have gotten. Luke’s was a birthday gift about four years ago. Amber’s too, a few years later. And Cole’s was for Christmas one year. Few things have brought me greater joy, from a purely selfish point of view.
So, why is this you might ask? Well it’s quite simple. Unless you have kids, you have nooo idea how long an even short-ish car trip can be. It is sensory overload on a gigantic scale.
They get bored so quickly and car trips can be tedious and just no fun at all. And despite trying your best to keep them entertained, it is just not sustainable for a lengthy period of time. Firstly, THE MOST BORING GAME IN THE WORLD, I-Spy-With-My-Little-Eye, is soul destroying. It really is. Very rarely are all the kids in the car on the same skill level when it comes to vocabulary and spelling ability. I remember once playing with my three on a trip and the word I was wanting them to guess was “tree”. And after much guessing and speculation, one of them eventually got it right. Cole was absolutely livid, because to him, the word “tree” started with a “ch”. What could I say. It certainly sounds that way. Furthermore, I-Spy can get very technical. Something inside the car, something outside the car, and then you get something outside the car, but we passed it about three minutes and eleven kilometres ago already. As mentioned before – soul destroying.
Car cricket is also pretty one sided. If you pick white cars, you’re winning before you’ve even started. It’s hardly a contest. Blue cars are also quite a shoo-in too. But by far, the worst dilemma are the metallic cars. Is it grey? Is it silver? Does metallic blue fall under blue, silver or grey? Is the metallic green/blue car you just passed blue, green, silver or grey? Do you feel my pain? Anyone feel like playing I-Spy instead?
Then there’s another Cloete favourite. Sort of a memory game. One person starts a sentence with something like, “I’m going to the beach and I’m taking along my towel”. And then every subsequent person has to add yet another addition to the beach excursion, remembering all the preceding goodies too. In the correct order if you please. If you skip one or forget one, you’re out. Blissfully excused from participating. Variations also include, “I’m going on a picnic”, “To the moon”, etc. And the kids seem to try and continually outdo each other in terms of bizarre things to bring with on our imaginary trip. And so it is not uncommon for a beach trip to include the following – roller blades, a grater, Playstation, a cucumber, text books, a grain of sand, an imaginary friend, and so the list goes on. Do you feel my pain? Anyone feel like playing I-Spy instead?
The continual barrage of “are we nearly there yet?” is also most exhausting. With the time frequency between questions, seeming to be ever decreasing. Then there’s the demands for bathroom breaks. Now if you have boys, this is an easy dilemma to solve. Apart from pulling over and making them take a leak next to the side of the road, obstructed from view of course, I am willing to admit that on occasion (especially when they were little), I have simply handed them an empty bottle for them to pee in. Hey, they’ve practically got a hose and can just point and shoot. Besides which, it allowed for privacy and was deemed to be a grand adventure. Peeing in a bottle. Who would have guessed. Now, with girls, it is simply not that easy. Bathroom breaks, require actual bathrooms. Fair enough. The problem lies in the fact that these bathrooms, are normally within very close proximity to shops and restaurants. Which leads me to my next whinge.
They are simply always hungry and requiring a snack stop. Any passing shop is seen as an opportunity and no amount of explaining the fact that you will not stop en route seems to make any difference to their pleas. They are relentless and so I always try and stock up in advance so that we can nibble on the way. Still, all you need is to pass one Wimpy or a One-Stop, for them to say, “I need to wee and I’m starving!”
Car trip bickering between siblings is also pretty intense. Everyone feels done in about their lack of space and leg room and their firm belief that they’re hard done by. If only they knew. Lucky little buggers. No one can compare with the cramped leg room reserved for mothers. We are currently away in Kleinbaai. My favourite place in all of the world. And on this particular trip, we are having a rare treat. Four nights in a row. Just the five of us. Which does in turn mean that the luggage requirements are rather large. By the time we finally hit the road, we were so jam packed that I found myself unable to even fit another thought into my head, it reserved so much space. My feet and lap was covered with amongst others, two sleeping bags, Cole’s fishing tackle box, three winter warm jackets for our walks along the sea, our coffee plunger, my Jumping Castle diary, Cole’s entire Easter Egg loot, my jam packed handbag, magazines, the new book I want to start reading, Luke’s book he’s reading as well as all of our toiletries. A pretty impressive amount of things if I say so myself. Within about twenty minutes of our nearly two hour trip (it was quite long today because of all the traffic on the road, families returning from holidays over Easter, etc.) I had lost all feeling in my left foot and the rot was spreading up my leg. By forty minutes into our trip, I had lost all sensation in my right butt cheek. It was harsh. And then those little twits in the back were complaining about the duvet and pillows on their laps! Hah!!!
Which brings my right back to my very favourite gift I ever got myself – my three children’s MP3 players. But sadly, Luke’s has been mysteriously misplaced for about 6 weeks already. Cole outright lost his el-cheapo one. And Amber’s needed charging. So, suffice it to say, that on our long car trip today, the kids were not packing my best gift ever.
Which has made me come to the obvious conclusion. Instead of spoiling them with technology, in hindsight, I should have spoiled myself. If I had my own MP3 player, I would have plugged myself in. Blissfully unaware of their bickering, their bathroom needs, their hunger pangs, their pointless games of car cricket, their trips to the beach and those bloody awful I-Spy marathon sessions.
Next time, I will simply remember my BlackBerry earphones and tune out.
Admittedly, the rest of the car was pretty loaded too
Cole carried the extra burden of Luke and Amber too
Hard to believe my legs are under there somewhere
By comparison, "poor" Grant had quite a fair bit of leg room