Anyone who knows Ben or has read this blog at any length knows that he is forever in motion. Even when he sleeps, he moves around. And when he needs to move and can't, he lashes out at his brother, just to expend some energy.
So, being the thoughtful and sensitive parents we are, we decided to eschew a two-hour flight to our beach vacation this year in favor of a 12-hour drive. That's if you don't hit traffic. Which we did all through New Jersey, and then again in the area surrounding Washington D.C. in northern Virginia.
The first 1/2 of the trip, to Richmond, took nine hours instead of 6.5. For you non-parents, this is, to a six-year-old, an earthly version of hell. For Ben, it was the equivalent of being put into a straight jacket and strapped to a chair. For a year.
By the time we reached the hotel at 7:30pm, Ben was WAY done with the car. We took five minutes to drop our bags before going for dinner. We returned to the parking lot to drive to the restaurant up the road, and when Ben realized we were getting back in the car, he actually started to cry.
Trouper that he is, he agreed to come along, and kept it together long enough to get dinner down. Then, refueled, he was up. He crawled under the table, out into the room and started doing push-ups. People at other tables were laughing and pointing, likely assuming David was some sort of punitive, military dad like the one found in Pat Conroy's The Great Santini. To which David said loudly, "Drop and give me twenty!" Which Ben did, happily.
But 20 push-ups was not enough to burn the pent up energy this kid had after a full day in the car, so when we got back to the hotel, Ben took matters into his own hands. He raced his brother up and down the hallway several times (and won every race). Then, in the room, he devised a game of jumping--no, flying with reckless abandon--from bed to bed. He did this over and over, working up a sweat, and was finally able to fall asleep shortly after 10pm. And David and I laughed and laughed until we were tired enough to fall asleep too.
What did we learn from this little episode? Not much, apparently, because the next day, before driving the remaining five hours, we made sure to sugar Ben up with a bowl of Froot Loops and some toast with jelly. But once the caffeine kicked us into parental mode, we made notes for next time:
-hotel pool would help a LOT
-don't count on anyone napping in the car. They are as excited as we are, and haven't moved in hours.
-for all of my resistance to kids' reliance on technology, a dual screen, portable DVD player is the best 75 bucks I ever spent.
And most importantly, always, ALWAYS carry the camera and spare batteries. Because traveling with Ben is always an adventure, and always funny.