On Monday, I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to go down to Ohio and visit one of my best friends from college, Barb (which is not her real name, but I do actually call her Barb for reasons I will not go into here). It was a three hour trip, and I brought L with me to meet Barb's almost-6-month-old daughter.
Since L's favorite past-time of late has been screaming his lolly little head off any time we even so much as look at the car, I was a mite concerned about taking such a long drive with him on my own. Plus, it has been sinfully hot for the past week, so I was downright scared. I did my best to prepare myself. I brought the coveted paci that we usually only give to him for sleeping and in church. I purchased a loud toy that I would come to despise (more on that later). I also brought the bucket of every single toy he owns to keep in the front seat so I could hand them back to him, one by one, when he inevitably tossed whatever toy he was holding aside. Finally, I brought his puffs, which he would eat non-stop if I let him.
So we get in the car on Monday, and he was crying, of course. I knew it was because the sun was in his eyes, so I just tried to drive fast so we could start heading to the turnpike and into the sun and get it out from behind us. I stuck the paci in his mouth and gave him a toy, and then there was silence. And then he fell asleep. So far, so good.
So there I was, all prepared to brave screaming and crying that I swear could be used as a torture device for war criminals, and I got nothing. No crying. No screaming. No whining (the whining is the worst). I was free to drive and think and listen to the radio.
I love listening to the radio on road trips. I know most people like to plug in their newfangled iPods, but there's something about hitting the scan button on your radio and not knowing what you will hear next. It helps you get a feel for the local "flavor" as you pass through different towns. And it's funny what happens when you're stuck with only the radio and no alternatives. Songs that you would not normally even think to listen to get switched on because there's nothing else on all the other stations that your car is currently receiving. Ordinarily, Red, Red Wine would not cut it, but on a road trip where the only other option is classical or country from the 1950's, Red, Red Wine is the best thing your ears have ever heard. (Side note: When I was younger, I never knew what they were saying in that song, and I always thought it was "Rain, rain, whyyyyyyyyyyy?".)
I finally found a station I could stick with when they played Wannabe by the Spice Girls, followed by Use Somebody by Kings of Leon, followed by New York State of Mind by Jay-Z and Alicia Keys. The ultimate score: the song I lip-synched to in high school drama class with a group of my classmates (please note that I was Posh Spice, the only one who is still relevant today), the song that I love to sing with great passion and conviction when I'm alone, and the song that gets me bouncing and dancing in my seat like a crazy person.
Anyway, nothing really eventful happened on the trip down. L was a total and utter champ, even after he woke up. I only had to pull off on the shoulder twice, and even then it was just to put his paci back in and give him a toy. The 3 hour trip only ended up being 3 hours and 40 minutes, which I think is pretty awesome with an 8 month old.
The actual visiting part was like food for my soul. Barb is one of those friends (that I hope everyone has at least one of) who just totally gets me and lets me be me. I can and do say whatever I want, whatever comes to mind, without concern about how she will take it or if she will judge me. She also has one of those families who just envelops you and makes you feel like you're one of them, like your best friend growing up who essentially just adopted you because you were around so much.
We talked about our kids and our birth stories, which I'm learning is one of those things that you love to talk about no matter how many times the other person has heard yours or vice versa. It's like soldiers comparing war stories. There's just something about talking with another woman who has also recently endured the horrors and indecencies of labor. I don't know what it is. It's a bonding thing, I guess. And maybe it's the validation you get from telling someone you got a 2nd degree tear and had to have a bazillion stitches, and they scrunch up their face in a look of agony and are like "OHHHHHH man!" Like, yeah they totally get it and they totally realize how much I rock for going through that.
We talked about in-laws and other family. We talked about everything and nothing. We ate yummy food that she prepared and snacked on fudgesicles. We watched The Bachelorette and enjoyed dissecting it with someone who actually cared, instead of the usual posing questions like, "What do you think of Kirk?" or "Oh my gosh, can you believe Kasey is so crazy?" to our husbands and getting a blank, "Huh? I wasn't paying attention" in return. And I also got to hang out with my biggest fan Jessie, who actually is Barb's BFF from Ohio. So not only is Barb my soul sister, she also introduced me to my biggest fan, whom I have come to love and adore as my very own BFF.
Even though an overnight trip with a baby sounds like it would be exhausting, it was the total opposite (namely, refreshing and rejuvenating). I'm so thankful that I have a friend whose life is following a similar path to my own. So often, friends grow up and grow apart when they no longer see each other every day. But I'm pretty sure my kids will grow up calling her Aunt Barb.
And the whole time we were there, L was a perfect angel. He fell in love with Barb's daughter, and even got a little frisky at one point, when he grabbed her butt. Luckily, we were there to stop it; otherwise who knows what shenanigans those kids would have gotten into. It's a pretty rockin feeling when you bring your kid to meet new people and he's awesome and wins them over entirely. Much less embarrassing than when he cries and fake whines and throws tantrums.
And Tuesday, on the ride back, he continued his string of excellence and was an angel again in the car. But oh, the toy. I almost forgot the toy. I was in Target just browsing (always a bad idea, as I have found out again and again, but I'll never learn) on Sunday since D and I were losers and had no plans for the 4th, and I came across this toy. It was $15 and looked like a little mini car dashboard. It had a moving steering wheel and a shifter that went up and down and 5 buttons across the top and lights and a horn....the works. I gave it to L while he was in the cart and walked around the store a bit to see what he thought of it. He liked it so much that he wouldn't even pay attention to anything else in the store. The fact that he could not be distracted was monumental, so I bought it (oh, the stupidity).
We let him play with it at home for a while and after about 5 minutes, I was beginning to realize I may have made a mistake. But I reasoned with myself that if it would stop him from crying the whole way, it was worth it. I just wouldn't give it to him until and unless he was reaching a fever-pitch of screaming.
So on the way down, the fever-pitch never came. And we were like 45 minutes away from Barb's house, and I was like, yeah he's been so good, he deserves it, I'll give it to him. So I turned it on and passed it back to him. Oh. My. WORD. Apparently the only button he liked to press was the horn because it was the only one that lit up, so for the last 45 minutes of the trip, all I heard, in endless streams was, "BEEP! BEEP! 3-2-1, HERE I COME!!" And a lot of times he would press the button before it was finished saying the whole thing, so it would go, "BEEP! BEEP! 3-2.... BEEP! BEEP! 3-2-1, HERE I...." and I would be stuck finishing the damn phrase in my head every single time because I can't stand when something just drops off like that.
And then there was silence. And then screaming. Because L had accidentally dropped it off to the side of his seat. And he couldn't pick it back up. And no other toy would satisfy him, because apparently he really had a craving for loud and obnoxious toys that are designed to make parents wish their cars came equipped with "Eject" buttons for the driver's seat.
And now, that's his very favorite toy. If he sees it, he throws his arms out to the side and bounces up and down and reaches for it with his mouth wide open, because no toy is a good toy until he can put some part of it in his mouth. Thank God he doesn't have object permanence yet. So we can pretend that it doesn't exist. And we plan to. Until we road trip again at the end of July for my family reunion up north. But then I'll have D with me to share in my agony. And knowing that somehow cheers me up.