Our annual spring break road trip from the Bay Area to Oregon is a trial in endurance. While I love the idea of a road trip, 10 hours of driving with kids gets old
around the six hour mark. So we usually break it up into two days of driving, with a overnight stay at a roadside motel.
These motel stays are a thrill to my kids who act as if
they're visiting a palace; they don't quite understand why I yell weird things like, "Keep your shoes on in here!" or "Don't touch the bedspread!"
When we first started making these trips, our kids were babies. So we lugged Pack n Plays and tiny potties and lots of toys! We packed portable DVD players and loaded up the iPod with juvenile audio books. I once even packed a gallon of milk just keep my sippy cup chugging milk-aholics sated. Our minivan was packed full.
This year, something changed. No, we still broke the trip into two parts and I still cringed when my sons ran around the motel room barefooted. What changed is that we didn't bring along so much stuff. No Star Wars sticker books, no dollar store toys, no portable DVD player, no handheld video games - and definitely no Pack n Plays.
Instead, we brought iPads.
It's as if the Star Wars sticker books, the dollar store toys, the DVD player, and the video games all jumped into the iPad, like a genie in a bottle. Our minivan looks like the Grapes of Wrath truck no more.
For 10 hours, we had two very content and well-behaved 6-year-old boys. Who knew 10 hours of road trippin could be so pleasant? Of course, on the flip side, any amount of screen time is like putting life on pause but when it's whining and fighting that's being put on pause, I'll take it.
Besides, when you're heading down a lonely stretch of Oregon highway, it's not much of a stretch to imagine your minivan come swagger wagon is a covered wagon blazing along the Oregon Trail. Seriously, that's what they did; they played Oregon Trail on their iPads.
Over this past week of spring break, the iPad has become such a fixture in our car travels that I hardly notice it's there. I even allowed my boys to bring their iPad with them to a bistro for breakfast this morning where they sat at a table for two and enjoyed a soft boiled farm egg in a croissant. Someone standing in line leaned over and said of my son, "He doesn't know how lucky he is to have that," to which I replied, "yes, he could be having the usual boring PB&J sandwich!"
It wasn't until just now that I realized the man was more than likely referring to the iPad than the farm egg sandwich!
He's right, though. Color us extravagant: My boys will never realize how lucky they are to be iPad owners at six years of age.
What did I do when I was a child on road trips? I counted cows. I hit my brother whenever I spotted an out of state license plate. I read my book until I got carsick. And I fought with my brother. A lot.
Maybe my dad might not have had to say, "Don't make me pull this car over..." quite so many times if we had had iPads back then.
Akemi Bourgeois is a Yahoo! Parenting Guru and mom to twin boys. They live in the Bay Area. She writes at Chalk and Cheese Chronicles and edits the blog, Mad About Multiples. She is an editor of at Technorati Women. Follow her on Twitter: svtwinmom.
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