After a rain-soaked “mini vacation” last week I was actually ready to head home and get back to normal. My golden plans of relaxing at the beach while my parents entertained Junior at their house were washed away in the downpours that plagued us for 3 straight days. Instead, we all banded together to figure out ways to entertain an almost-2 year old in persistently horrible weather. We made the best of it and even managed to spend a few hours at the beach on our next-to-last day. On Sunday I packed up the car and the two of us headed back to (dry) reality; and that’s where the fun stopped.
Motherhood has proven to me that yes, I actually do have patience buried deep inside of my body. It’s selective, but nonetheless it does exist. How do I know that? Because I used every single molecule of it during our 4.5 hour ride home. As I write this, almost 24 hours later, my head is still pounding; and I even had 2 Excedrin as a mid-morning snack.
My tot is usually pretty good in the car as long as he’s fed, gets a little sleep, has Elmo playing, and has access to a few books or toys. I assumed this trip would be no different since we left after lunch, right at nap time, had the DVD player plugged in, and a pile of books to his left. Well you know what they say about people who assume… Their ears start to bleed when their toddler defies the odds and screams off and on for 2+ hours. Why? Let me paint a picture.
First, he refused to sleep after watching a round of Elmo, even though he was totally glazed over. He cried that hollow, deep, exhausted cry for 30 minutes until he finally put himself into a coma. Whew, an hour of peaceful silence. He woke up and I was prepared to start Elmo over for another 45 minutes of uninterrupted driving. Nope. Hollow scream returns. Why? His fingers hurt. You see, Junior took a tumble on his grandparents’ pebble driveway and sort of shredded two knuckles. Not a terrible injury, but I have no doubt it hurt like hell whenever he bumped his hand. So I’m guessing as he woke up he whacked his knuckles on something, which reminded him of his boo-boo, which prompted him to keep poking the boo-boo, which caused him to scream bloody murder. So I pulled over, found a couple of Band-Aids in the glove box and tried to put a barrier on the wounds. He’d lost his mind by this point. Blonde curls soaked with sweat, forehead splotchy, crocodile tears, right hand suspended in the air as he tried desperately not to move it. Poor kiddo; once he got into his fit he just didn’t know how to stop. So we sat in the parking lot of a closed body shop somewhere off of I-95 where he sucked down a juice box, expressed his disdain for Elmo and all snacks, and sighed heavily as he slowly calmed down.
OK, off we go. Elmo is back in his good graces, as are his Goldfish crackers and fwoot pouches. The knuckles are bandaged but still tender so there are periodic outbursts, especially when he wasn’t able to grab onto his sippie cup with the injured hand. Or when he decided that the one item he wanted to play with was the one item out of his reach and mine. “FLASH CAAARRRRDDDDS!!!!!!!!!!!” And there it was again, the deep, demonic wail of a toddler who was sick of being strapped in a car seat and couldn’t get to his toy of choice.
We were 45 minutes from home so I refused to pull over again. I decided to focus on other things to try and drown out the noises from behind me. But as my patience wore more and more thin I started focusing on things that were just as frustrating as his choppy tantrums. My sunglasses were pinching my head. My car keys hung just low enough to constantly brush against my right knee. My contact lenses kept drying out. The adaptor thing that the DVD player plugs into made an awful whirring noise right beside me in the console. Now I was beyond annoyed and turning up the music only made Junior fuss louder.
Eventually we made it home, and he reverted back to his sweet self just in time for Daddy to get home. Me? I literally just popped 2 more Excedrin. The after-effects of that road trip rival any hangover I had in college.