Monday, August 15, 2011

The Road Trip

Elliot (my 5-month-old son) doesn’t like to ride in the car. And why would he? In his very short life, “car” means getting strapped tight in an uncomfortable seat, turned backwards away from Mommy and Daddy (while trapped in an incredibly hot environment), then being bounced around for several minutes. Lucky for him, up until now most of his car experiences have been of the brief variety. And even so, many times he still takes the opportunity to vocally express his displeasure.

That being said, we still thought it would be a fantastic idea to take him on a nice car ride from Plano to Houston to do the obligatory “tour de relatives.” I really want to write a blog about how when you have a kid, suddenly relatives start coming out of the woodwork, but since my relatives are the only ones that read my blog, I’ve been keeping that one on ice and just crack myself up with how funny it would be.

Lauren and I may be a lot of things, but we aren’t stupid. We planned this trip well. We had it on the calendar for weeks and took Friday off at our jobs so we could “take our time” getting there. But what does that really mean? When you are driving, you are either driving or stopped, and when you are with an infant, any time you are stopped, it’s probably because he’s crying. So saying “taking your time” is really just a positive way of saying “we’re going to leave early enough that no matter what happens, we won’t have to pull into a truck stop at 1 am.”

Our plan started out great. We did our normal morning routine with him, knowing that he usually likes to nap about 9 am. Lauren finished feeding him around 8:00, and we hit the road. Our car was loaded down like we weren’t planning to come back. If someone broke into our house, they wouldn’t even realize we had a baby because every piece of baby paraphernalia we owned was stuffed in our car.

Our plan seemed like it was working to perfection. We weren’t even past downtown Dallas, and Elliot was already sawing logs. To be honest, I almost forgot he was back there. In fact, Lauren had to give me a not-so-gentle reminder around Corsicana, when I was literally doing everything possible to avoid turning off the cruise control while navigating some highway congestion. I’m sure even in his dreamy state, Elliot appreciated Mom speaking up, and I know the lady in the minivan whose bumper was about 3 inches from mine was breathing easier, too.

Then out of nowhere it started. First a little grunt, then a series of “oooos and ahhhs,” then a little cry, then a louder one, then a wail. Lauren said, “You better find a rest area to pull over in.” I retorted, “Sure, ’cause they have those everywhere.” I wished I had saved that little bit of sarcasm, because the words had barely left my lips when I saw a sign that said: “Picnic Area 1 Mile.”

We exited with one thing on the agenda: breast feeding. Lauren instructed me to find a somewhat secluded spot so that all the truckers wouldn’t get a free show. I saw a place across from a large overgrown bush that looked perfect and stop the car. Little did I know that there is a distinct difference between rest stops and picnic areas: restrooms. Everyone else that was exiting also had one thing on their agenda: peeing. And guess what? That bush I was parked across from was the nearest thing they had seen resembling a restroom in many miles.

So there I sat, with an infant suckling in my back seat while no less than six people took the time to relieve themselves just feet from the front of my car. But you know what? I was ok with that. Having Elliot has changed my life in so many amazing ways that if the tradeoff means having to tack an extra hour or two on to road trips and possibly being forced to sit idly by while people urinate in front of your car, then I will take it.

Jordan Echols is a Sr. Marketing Specialist for Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas and first-time Dad.

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