When I was the kid, a long trip in the car was anything more than an hour. We would amuse ourselves by playing "I spy" or "the number plate game", or by reading a book or colouring in. We would listen to the radio and sing along, and god forbid, we would even talk to our parents. We never had DVD players, bluetooth gadgets or GPS toys to keep us occupied.
AND HOW WE FOUGHT! There were 3 of us in that back seat. So if anyone ever 'crossed over that invisible line' on the seat, it was all out war!
"MUM! Jackson is on my side!"
"MUM! Jackson is NOT touching me!" (That fantastic kid thing whereby you put your hands in front of another person's face without actually touching them, but close enough to drive them crazy).
"MUM! Hannah keeps singing!"
MUM! Hannah is looking at me funny!"
It seems karma has finally caught up with me. My poor mother. I am feeling your pain 10 times over!
I have been completely opposed to the use of DVD players in the car in the past. I have read articles on how children don't even know the way around their local suburbs because they are too busy watching movies and playing computer games. I didn't want my children to be affected the same way, and have always strongly encouraged "looking out the window" as a great alternative to watching a video. Hmmmm. But since it's quite possible that my kids are the worst behaved children in a car, EVER, and we spend so much time in a car, I am starting to sway.
In my children's defence, not too many children are subject to the 7 hour car trip that my own children are on a semi-regular basis. In fact, a short car trip for my children is anything under a few hours. I should be grateful for how well they amuse themselves as it is. But I'm not. They have just reached the age where they want to fight (much like I did) with their siblings. They want the same toys at the same time. The same pencils at the same time. The food or drink that the other child has. They want to talk at the same time. And this all ultimately ends in a screaming match, firstly between the children, and then finally between me and whoever else is yelling at the time. And we pull over. And I yell some more, threaten death to the next person who even moves, and promise that next time someone will have to get out and walk. But it never happens.
CP once told me the story of when (25 odd years ago) his parents dropped him (somewhere out here in the sticks) on the side of the road, after enduring his poor behaviour for god knows how long... and that after they drove off to scare him, CP took off into the bush beside the road. Turns out it was his parents who got the bigger fright that day when they went back to collect him and he was gone. I mention this story, only to explain that the poor behaviour genes don't only run on my side of the family.
Anyway. We have just done this drive to Brisbane recently. The 3 kids and myself. CP generally stays at home when we do the city appointment run. I try to stop every 2 hours or so, to let the kids have a feed and a play before the next leg. The first and second stops are invariably a McDonalds. McDonalds is good for several reasons. It has a play area that is fenced and kid proof. The food is cheap and the kids (sort of) like it... except for Olivia, but that's another story. And there are toilets. All in the one building. Tick, tick and tick! It's not the stops that are the real problem. It's getting 3 children in and out of car seats, and hoping and praying that they listen to you and don't run on the road at any given moment. And mostly, my kids are pretty good about that.
It's always a relief to finally arrive at our destination. We sort of fall out of the car, and stumble around like zombies for an hour or so afterwards. And we always sleep well that night.
So back to my point about kids fighting in the car. I really have changed my mind about DVD players in cars. They are a god send. In fact, my whole opinion about travelling long distances in a car with children has changed. I have 3 requests for the next car we purchase.
1) It has to have 3 rows of seats (the 7 seater car). This way we can all spread out a little more.
2) It has to have a DVD player (or at least be able to have one installed). And preferably one that works with head phones, so that I don't have to hear anything.
3) It has to be automatic. That way, in event of the first few changes not working on the children's behaviour, then at least I will have a hand free... you know, for all that back seat waving and bad parenting behaviour that Mum's so often do. Oh, and for turning up the radio REALLY loud. Or at least loud enough not to have to hear my kids fighting...