I spend a couple hours of each day in the back seat -- a novelty my changelings can't get enough of. My mere presence amongst them is hilarious. And it breaks down the day into parts that everybody can look forward to. In just 100 miles Mama's going to come back there. Hey honey, in just 100 miles I'm going to go to the back seat so you can listen to classic rock on the radio and eat that entire bag of beef jerky without me complaining about the obnoxious smell. After dinner, in the car, they pick a film, I climb into the backseat again and we watch it together. (Sure, I'm a die-hard Luddite. I say "no" to the built-in DVD for everyone -- no one needs that much ease and comfort -- but i do cotton to the 1950s iconic "family around the TV sharing a moment" tableau, if you count me holding the "TV" in my lap and watching Sponge Bob Square Pants as an iconic tableau -- and I do.) And while I'm not going to say that gathering up banana peels in the dark of the backseat and arguing that "The Muppet Movie" is too a good movie and if they'd just give it a chance for three seconds without that sour look on their face they'd probably love it as much as their mom does and it's way better than watching "Cars" one more time -- all of that -- it's not bad.
8.) Organic Yogurt vs. Little Debbie peanut butter cheese crackers. Be easy on yourself. Really, you're only on the road for a few days at a time. I wouldn't even think of starting a trip without a cooler loaded with organic, whole grain snacks and the best intentions. Yet, when I clean out the car at 2 a.m. in my own driveway there is nothing but McDonald's straw wrappers and undecipherable scraps of cellophane from full meals eaten at 7-11s. You do what you can. There are times when you're just too tired to fill up the cooler with the hotel ice bucket one trip at a time (although if your kids are big enough, and the machine is just down the hall) and then there's the food shopping and the buying of plastic spoons, the complaining that this strawberry yogurt tastes different from the strawberry yogurt at home and the fact that there are only so many days when you can have peanut butter sandwiches for lunch and cheese sandwiches for dinner before you get mutiny. So say you had lunch at McDonald's -- why not try dinner at Del Taco?
9.) Befriend the big, ugly box stores, just this once. A.K.A. the emergency Hot Wheels.