Friday, 24 June 2011

Amuse the kids on the interminable hours of car journey hell!

Oh yes, the rentrée for the happy family Grit!

Take these top ten tips from me, the travelling uber parent, about the happy journeys you can avoid, locked in a moving car on a motorway for six bleeding hours!

1. Play the What If game!
Start with great intentions. Try storytelling. Ask, What if... a penguin flops onto the roof of our car? What if... the car in front is driven by an albatross? Each person has to come up with a story. You'll create a great imaginative journey. At least for five minutes!

Squirrel: What if an albatross is driving the car? What do I care? What if she hits me? What if I hit her back? So it's alright for her to hit me but I can't hit her? I hate you! I hate you! I hate you!
Shark: What if she's screaming in my ears? I do not like it. I have a right to shut her up.
Tiger: What if I open the car door and get out while we are travelling? What do I care? No one cares about me.
Grit: What if we stop the car and throw you all out? What if the police come? What if daddy leaves us once and for all and never comes home and you are taken into care and I go to prison and you all end up sleeping on park benches? What are you going to do then eh?
Dig: What if you all just shut the fuck up?

2. Audiobooks!
Don't give in yet! We can make this journey FUN. Put on an audiobook. If you can find one amongst the garbage on the floor.

Squirrel: I cannot hear it. Turn it up.
Shark: Stop talking.
Tiger: I wanted to listen to that.
Grit: All of you be quiet.
Squirrel: She is talking!
Shark: You started it.
Tiger: I wanted to listen and my sisters are talking!
Squirrel: I am not talking.
Shark. Yes you are. Shut up.
Grit: Be quiet.
Squirrel: Yes, shut up.
Shark: Shut up yourself.
Tiger: Shut up shut up shut up.
Dig: Right. That's it. I'm turning it off.

3. Look out the window!
Yeah, look out of the window why don't you, booby face?

See? Fun can now begin to pass out of the devil's arse while we each stare angrily out of the windows whispering insults at family members under our breath but maybe just loud enough to be heard by the sister sitting next to you.

Problem: We own more kids than car windows. Certain to lead to rising tension, death threats and activity number 4.

4. Elbow each other, kick each other, then turn round to claw at your sister's face in a screaming fit!
This is great fun and much better than general whining and bitching. Proper physical violence is the end result of five minutes frustrated anger and quickly leads to activity number five!

5. Stop the car at a service station to give everyone a break, use the toilets, think of all the good things, and reason with the children.
Dear children, let us see the pleasure in this and let us work together! If we all help each other in our interdependent family, we might get home quickly! Then we will all eat chips from Rocky's! Let us start again, bonded on this great adventure together!

6. Repeat numbers 1-5 within the space of ten minutes.

7. Stop the car to threaten the children.
Experts at this game can think up some excellent threats! We will sit here all night if necessary, you will go to bed without any supper, we will never go on holiday again, we will sell the car, yes, that is what we will do. Your mother and I will go on holiday together and Aunty Dee can come and look after you and then will she be cross. etc. etc.

This works! This actually works! Well, it works between junction 29 and junction 27. Then the fighting starts properly, none of that girly nonsense, at which point, you can escalate quickly through these parental steps of despair!

8. Pull off the road completely, find a minor road, and drop head against steering wheel.
Follow this quickly with getting out the car, opening the back door, and demanding the children get out on roadside.

9. Weigh up the consequences of driving home without them.
Sit in car seething quietly for a good half hour, soul searching why every car journey ends like this, how we alone have bred harpies in frocks. Meanwhile, every other car happily travels past with their occupants demonstrating true family bonding while gaily singing uplifting hymns of moral courage. Spawn shamelessly continue to slap each other about on grass verge.

10. Come up with the final ultimatum.
From here, your mother is leaving you. As you have made it impossible to travel by car, she will catch a train home. From Yorkshire, it will cost two hundred pounds. She will deduct this sum from your pocket money over the next year until you have settled the balance in full.

Issue this threat while collecting bag, coat, keys, and with face that says Do not mess with me now, for I have a 100 per cent intention of carrying this out.

To help me maintain some sense of proportion about this journey through hell, and to carry out my own remit of dragging the best of education from the worst of experience, here is a picture of the Battle of Flodden Field, a subject the Grit family will shortly be discussing over chips from Rocky's.

Make me feel better! Tell me how your car journeys with children are much worse than mine!


sharon said...

All of the above plus mine used to throw up at regular intervals, commencing a mere 30 mins from home!

On the plus side there were only two of them so we could strap them in with a gap between them and they had a window each. Individual audio systems were a help too.

laura said...

I just got back from Vancouver with my daughter-one 20 min cab ride,11 hour flight (with stopovers) and finally an hour coach journey.All this with a child who gets travel sick the minute she steps out of the door,and is afraid of flying after the last journey from hell,on which she contracted an ear infection that made landing excruciating.At least there is only one child? Well,only one twelve year old and one 32 year old who has a low boredom threshold.Throw in many hours of the two squabbling and you have the reason I am travelling alone next year,or maybe checking the 'kids' in as baggage?

RuralDiversity said...

we have a dog in the boot that leans over the children and pants in their ears, dribbles in their ears and steals their in-car snacks. That spices things up a bit! Especially because he ALWAYS does it to one child more than the others (all three of them claim they are that one child) However, our great moments of family unity come when he farts. This happens at least once per 8 hours journey and it's a lovely all-in-this-together moment which more than makes up for the sheer hell of the rest.
I've actually come to the conclusion that family outings and holidays are much nicer if the family doesn't come along. This year's hols for us are: two children to sport camp, one child to horse riding camp, one parent glued to computer screen (well, he does that anyway, he might not notice that it's his holiday) and I will be helping to organise a festival :-)

Nora said...

I would refuse to take the kids on long car journeys. I would just say those are out until they are grown up. Preferably until they have their own cars to drive in. Why put up with the hassle? They are obviously incapable of dealing with being in one car together.

jackie said...

Most of our long car journeys are like yours! Three girls in a smallish car filled with luggage, usually travelling to Cornwall, a journey that takes about 5 hours. I'm ashamed to say that often I will sit in the back just to between two of them whilst third one sits in the front. This seems to work well, except that I am always squashed! We have to be fair though and share the front seat equally, which involves telling the time and counting the miles - so a bit of educating perhaps! All in all though pretty horrendous and every year we discuss pgl holidays for the darlings, whilst we go somewhere on our own, hasn't happened yet as the kids are horrified that we could contemplate such a thing!

Rachel M. said...

Well I'm both shocked and terrified - we have a two day drive home to Maryland starting Sunday. Hmmm, 3 and 11mo cannot be quite that bad yet. I remember when I was horrible to my dad. He wanted to take us to the Zoo when we were visiting friends in Louisiana. I wanted to stay at friends house and read a book. I screamed and yelled so much he pulled over to the side of the road one mile down from start point and demanded I get out and walk back, to which I did! It was a defining moment, one that will probably come back to bite me 10 fold even though I thought I won that day.

Grit said...

oh these are good, people. i am much encouraged. xx