The first trip we took with our daughters was to the beach, 4 hours away. As we loaded up the back of the car with suitcases, strollers, toys, and the other half of the house, we made sure to bring along several of their favorite movies.
We headed down the road to the sounds of Mickey Mouse on his newest adventure while the kids stared at the screen. The trip was non-eventful and we were grateful for the DVD player for entertaining the girls so we could concentrate on driving while also indulging in adult conversation.
The DVD player quickly became a necessity in the car. Any trip to be made that was not within 15 minutes of home required a movie to be loaded up and turned on before the car left the driveway. When a DVD became scratched and would skip howls of discontentment would resonate from the backseat, ensuring we would stop and fix the situation.
For the next two years we kept a DVD player, replacing them when they were destroyed by the kids kicking the screens and wrapping their feet around the cords. We even tried a new system that hooked up to the iPad so no discs were required and therefore no skipping occurred but after a few months of kicking and tugging on the cords rendered them useless.
On the 3rd system, we decided it would be our last. Despite the warnings, this system was soon in the trash with no replacement in site. Our tablets were substituted for them to play games but that was stopped when it was discovered they both would get car sick after playing them for more than a few minutes. Road trips were officially electronic-device-free.
It was an adjustment and trips that were longer than an hour were difficult at best. I tried to get them to talk about their day or what they wanted to do next weekend and was met with glares or the go-to answer of “I don’t know” before they would whine about how awful it was to not be able to watch TV.
I was frustrated and they were bored but I had no plans to remain within a 5-mile radius of our home. At my wits end, I taught them how to play “I Spy”. Soon they were both giggling and hollering out answers as soon as the color was said.
We moved up to the Alphabet game soon after. They had to spy a designated letter of the alphabet on items outside the vehicle (I had to get specific as my oldest attempted to just write down the letter she was looking for so she could “win”). Chloe got mad because she did not know what certain letters looked like so I bought little notepads and pens to keep in their seats. When Chloe would get a letter she did not know Taylor would write it on her notepad and show it to Chloe. Chloe copied it into hers and would then look for it, squealing with delight when she found it.
We now play the rhyming game, the opposite game, and car bingo along with “I spy” and the alphabet game. We laugh and shout, point out what we are passing and tell silly stories. When all else fails we crank up the music and sing along, poking fun at each other for being off-key. One of our car games will lead to a story and non-stop chatter. We now talk more in the car than any other time as the day is filled with the hustle and bustle of school, work, and chores.
It has been almost 2 years since we had DVD players in the car and they are not at all missed. Soon the girls will be too old to want to play these games, too cool to sing off-key (with me in ear shot), and too private to let me know about their BFF’s new crush. So as long as I can, I will keep our road trips filled with the noise of chatter and giggles about our newest adventure and let Mickey’s stay at home.