I've said it before, I'll say it again. If you want to hear what your kids have to say, trap them in a car and give them absolutely nothing to do. When they can't watch movies, can't play Wii, can't play LEGOs; they will talk to you. Yesterday I engaged my children in an on-again-off-again conversation over the span of 11 hours. They said some funny stuff.
Mason: Mommy, I love you.
Cooper: I had a dream that I saw Go Go and no one saw us. And I telled her where Uncle Andrew lives and I said does he live in a castle? And she say-ed yes!
Mason: (singing the Star Wars theme)
Cooper: Mom, I see the sun. But I don't see the moon. They usually fight when they wanna grow. And they play this game where they push back and forth. Isn't that so cool?
Mason: The moon can't stop, Tooper!
Cooper: I see it! (The sun is fully risen at this point.) Hey, is that a golf course? I've never played that one. It's called the Tiger Woods, right mommy?
Mom: OK, boys, you might want to take a little sleep. It's like 4 hours earlier than when you normally wake up. Just go back to sleep. (Damn, well laid plans.)
Pass the beautiful downtown skyline.
Stop at a Costco for gass (just need to top off before hitting the serious road).
Mason: What is that smell?!?!? (This is just the first of this proclamation/question. It is repeated every couple of hours with alarm whenever we encounter a new aroma.)
I break out the Bakugan Breakfast. I have secretly packed meals for the whole road trip that have food AND a toy. I'm hoping to avoid the McDonald's 3 times in one day scenario. Well received.
The boys finally start a movie and there is complete and total silence from the backseat. See?!!?!? I told you. If you want your kids to talk to you, make them ride in an entertainmentless car. Of course, at times, you don't want them to talk to you. This is one of those times.
Cross into Wyoming. Brace yourself, it gets really boring from here on out. Saddened by the state moniker, "Forever West." Really? Forever? I can't endure it.
Mason: Mommy! I! See! Something! (I guess he's just seen his first herd of cattle.)
Cooper falls asleep.
I accidentally wake up Cooper when I try to wrench away the bag he packed (it is filled with LEGOs).
Really need a bathroom. Who has the cleanest bathrooms in Wyoming? McDonald's! Usher kids into the can, let them take a 15 minute recess on the play equipment, then buy 3 fountain drinks as recompense.
Leave -- the boys are somewhat long-faced -- and drive head-long into nothingness.
Cooper: Why does no one in this town have yellow faces?
Now, this is just the tip of an iceberg I suspect will be called, "How to talk to your kids about diversity." For the record, he wasn't asking about what you think he might be asking about. He wanted to know why humans (town actually meaning planet) don't have yellow heads like LEGO guys.
I issue the first "Knock it off!" for perpetual raspberry blowing and spitting.
Cooper: How many uncles do I have?
Cooper: What are their names?
Mom: (I list them.)
Cooper: How many uncles do you have?
Cooper: What are their names?
Mom: (I list them, one of which being my uncle Mark.)
Cooper: Oh, is your uncle our neighber Mr. Marcus?
Mom: Ummmmm, no.
Dear friends, my neighbor Mr. Marcus is an African American (and I am not). I suspect, this might be more of that iceberg. But I leave it at that.
We pass through the Green River tunnel. For some reason, this is a big deal to the backseat passengers.
Approaching Little America (sounds of gospel choirs singing). I have approximately less than 1 gallon left of gas. So we fill up, use the bathrooms, and I permit the boys to pick a treat. They pick powdered doughnuts.
We're on the freeway and I'm noticing that we probably have 5 hours left. Surely my calculations are wrong. My rear-end hurts and I'm really not in the mood for 5 more hours. Someone, please help me. Why did I do this? Are we ever going to get there? What was I thinking? Five hours! Heellllllllp.
I am interrupted in a wildly needed lecture on the importance of sharing with your siblings with...
Cooper: Are you trying to talk me back?
I issue the first, "Stop throwing stuff!" as a piece of fruit leather whizzes past my head. I nearly miss the Utah state line in all the commotion. But hello! That explains the increase in crappy drivers. Come on, Utah!
Oh dear. I smell something. Please tell me potty training is not on vacation, too. I ask, "Who is making that smell?"
Mason: Mason! (As he lifts not just both his hands, but both his feet.)
The tide of toots is also the kick off of a marathon of nonsensical knock-knock jokes.
Mason falls asleep
We cross into Idaho and I teach Cooper about mile markers and tell him to start counting them (we only have 109 more to go).
Cooper falls asleep. That mile marker trick worked better than I thought it would.
Mason lets me know he is awake by humming his favorite tune.
We're here. Now wait, I have to do this again?
RESOURCES NOTE: In case you're wondering how I can recount every detail of this conversation. First of all, I only share the good stuff. Next, I graduated in journalism and used to work as a reporter, then producer at a handful of television stations and news networks. I can -- and do -- take copious, one-handed, blind notes while I drive. I know, dangerous. You should see my handwriting.