September 7, 2011

Riding in cars with babies

So you're going on a long car trip with your infant! I have some tips for you.

1. Everything you might need during the ride needs to be easily accessible, NOT packed away in your suitcase in the trunk. Fill a diaper bag until it is bursting at the seams with toys, wipes, burpcloths, portable pump and parts, change of clothing, et cetera. Be sure to put your wallet away down deep at the bottom of the bag, so that you can hold up a whole host of cars at tollbooths. Don't think of it as being unprepared: think of it as helping all the people in the other cars cultivate the virtue of patience.

2. Be sure to take advantage of this opportunity to introduce your child to some of your favorite music. Cue up some Clash on the old iPod. Turn the volume up so baby can hear.

3. Oh no! It appears that infants, like everybody else, do not like Sandinista! Turn up volume even louder to cover sound of crying.

4. When you realize the crying can be heard over Joe Strummer's jangling guitar, take the exit for the nearest gas station in order to effectuate a diaper change. Yeah. Tell yourself it's the diaper, not your own stupidity, that's the cause of this.

5. If it turns out the meltdown was partly caused by a DEFCON-5-level diaper blowout, be sure to park near a trash can. Or else you will have to carry a compact tricorn bundle of baby shit all the way across the parking lot, with people looking at you and wrinkling their noses in your wake.

6. Now that she is clean and dry, Baby has decided she is hungry! Good thing you packed that travel breastpump and all its little parts, right? Commence to pump in backseat under cheerful-patterned Hooter Hider. Realize you are inept at using Hooter Hider, and have accidentally flashed bus of church campers parked at the neighboring pump. In situations like this, a rueful smile is appropriate. Also, putting the offending boob away posthaste.

7. Resort to can of poisonous formula in trunk in order to feed child. Even though you just said you were done with formula, forever. Everyone knows the normal rules don't apply to the open road.

8. Go into convenience store for bottled water to mix said formula with. Listen to the dulcet sounds of your child screaming from inside a car 50 yards away while your husband presumably tortures her. In a fit of temptation, buy pack of cigarettes with water. It doesn't mean you smoke again! It doesn't mean you've UNQUIT! You're just having an interlude. Take one secret, beautiful puff off vile, tempting cigarette while hidden behind Dumpster.

9. Realize what you are doing. Hurl cigarette and rest of pack into Dumpster. Pour water all over face and hands to get rid of offending smell/dangerous second-hand smoke. Feel guilty. You are a horrible mother. Go back to car, horrible mother, and mix a bottle for your starving child. When you reach car, she is no longer screaming, and no longer hungry, but still fussing with the kind of general unhappiness experienced by characters in a novel by Dostoevsky.

10. Salvage horrible situation with artistic picture taken of child and husband at outdoor picnic area. In twenty years, you will not remember the migraine mounting behind your left eye. You will look back fondly on this picture and think it was a nice trip. Be sure to mention to young parents how easy it all was, so that they can simultaneously hate you for being smug and despair about why WHY GOD it isn't that easy for them.

This post brought to you by a whole lot of bad parenting. And also Coca Cola!


  1. You forgot the part where you start giving her infant tylenol, convincing yourself that she's crying from tooth pain, when deep down you know that she's just mad, and you're just trying to render her unconscious for fifteen minutes.

    We drove from PA to GA (and back!) when Joy was six months. NEVER AGAIN.

  2. My SIL is getting married in Maine next week, and I have to admit that part of the reason I wrote this post was to convince myself not to do anything stupid like try to drive all the way there and back in 48 hours. We can't fly, either, because of the RSV risk, so we aren't going, and I am so sad about it. :(

  3. If it makes you feel any better, the flooding is horrific in much of New England, so driving out and back might be even more of an issue - we're going up to my folks' tomorrow, and we had to change our normal route because of closed roads due to floods and washouts (and potential rockfalls/landslides, in parts of the Adirondacks). Maine itself is, I think, ok, but getting there might be the trick. Or, as they say in VT and is sadly even more accurate now, "You can't get there from here."

    So you're probably better off staying. If that helps you feel better. Tell them to Skype the wedding!