After four and a half hours in the car, with many (many) bathroom breaks along the way, we made it to Atlanta without anyone being tossed out of our moving vehicle. Somewhere between Tifton and Macon, I wasn't sure it would be possible.
How did my mother take three children - me, my brother and sister - on road trips without killing any of us? Could we have been as petty, argumentative and just plain annoying as my children were after about 90 minutes in the back seat? I know the answer is yes, and I ought to call her right now to apologize.
It's partly our fault - that is, mine and my husband's. We didn't bother charging up the portable DVD player, figuring that some books and a fully juiced iPod would keep them sane. That was wildly optimistic. Books? Why read when you can beg to hear "S.O.S." again? Once boredom set in, our daughter decided to test how far she could stretch her arm without actually touching our son, which, of course, pissed him off. Eight-year-olds aren't known for taking the high road, so after about 10 minutes of this, he swatted her a little harder than he needed to. Which led to howling and shouts of recrimination. Which led to parental threats to "pull this car over and make someone VERY sorry." There's a reason this scenario is a cliche.
People my age are fond of saying that children don't need to be distracted from the journey of travel, and that "we managed just fine without movies on the road." Yeah, but we "managed" because the technology didn't exist. Sometime in the mid-'80s, I finally got a Walkman, which I used to drown out my much-younger siblings' prattle and my mother's gospel sing-a-longs with my Aunt M. They are lovely singers, but back then, I just wanted to hear lots of Wham!
Anyway, we made it. Now all we have to do is drive back.