“I can’t find it!”
Two doodle pads. Really, I thought this would be our solution to the endless backseat rivalry.
But, within one minute of my son entering the vehicle, a special feature of his brand new toy had been lost: a cat face magnet.
And – to no one’s surprise – two preschoolers now fought over the newest doodle pad.
This was the beginning of our epic first road trip as a family of four.
Day One’s route took us through three large cities: Atlanta, Chattanooga, and Nashville.
To be honest, I had been dreading this day for some time. Atlanta traffic is a joy stealer. And we endured at least an hour of slowdowns.
After a series of errors chalked up the parental forgetfulness, we hit the road just after 10 a.m. And, yes, the kids devoured three snacks before we were even 10 miles out. What breakfast?!
All in all, meals went mostly as planned. We ate a big late lunch on the road and nibbled on fruit, crackers, and cheese for dinner.
By the time we made it to the Tennessee Welcome Center, however, we were all carrying family travel fatigue. The greeter at the Center knew just how to assist.
He ushered us outside for a fun photo-op and offered insight that can only really be savored (and shared) when the speaker is not a parent:
“I saw a sign once that said, ‘Be a parent, not a peer.’ It looks like you all are doing a great job with these two.”
I’m telling you, there is no greater parenting fuel. The next four hours would try our patience, as I fought off a migraine and female unpleasantries and our kids battled restless legs, arms, and mouths.
But we arrived just after 7 p.m. local time. There was no question: we ALL needed a swim. After all, it was still 94 outside.
I was reminded that kids don’t care about activities, treats, or gifts nearly as much as we think they do. They just want YOU, the parent.
And the orange cat face? It re-emerged during our post-drive clean-up.
But neither child seemed to notice amidst the beautiful, wet harmony in our hotel room.