What did we do before DVD players in cars?

We rolled in last night at about 2am after a 12-hour car ride home. Our kids don’t measure travel time in hours anymore, they measure it in movies. It’s about an eight movie trip. We would’ve stayed at a hotel halfway through, but the baby finally fell asleep and if I’ve learned anything during my 10 years in the baby business, it’s never underestimate the value of a car seat detesting sleeping babe.

Last week on the sand, after my husband finally got Little Miss Fuss to sleep on his chest, all cozy like on his beach chair under the cool shade of the umbrella, he realized he was stuck there. “I now understand the value of a sleeping baby! I don’t dare move a muscle!” he testified like a true convert. He did muscle through the lower back pain and the lack of bathroom breaks and let the princess wake up naturally hours later. A small price to pay for her serene little snore on the shore.

Now if only the rest of this crew would learn the same lesson her father has learned. Oh, it’s not from a lack of trying. In true tough love style, my husband has made my boys suffer the consequences of planting raspberries on slumbering soft cheeks more than once.

“Oops. Mom! Baby Jane’s awake! Sounds like she’s hungry!” they’ll holler.

“Oh no you don’t! She’s not hungry at all. You woke her, you hold her. Here. So help me, you will learn the value of a sleeping baby,” he’ll counter.

After about 20 minutes of holding “waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!” they claim to have learned their lesson. They will not poke the bear! Her cradle is her refuge! Her swing, a sanctuary!

But something about those cheeks, the soft scent of her baby’s breath, the adorable rise and fall of her teeny chest….oooooh, they just have to squeeze something! All that adorableness cannot be wasted! And before I can say “let down” I hear, “Ooops. Mom! Baby Jane is awake. Sounds like she’s hungry!” And around and around we go.

So when she  finally nodded off around mile marker 250, we just kept feeding that blessed DVD player and pressed on. DVD transfixed kids don’t wake up babies.

How did our parents do it? We made that same drive as kids year after year before the LCD screen was even invented and we kept volunteering to do it again. Oh wait, now I remember: No car seats. In fact, my dad used to remove all the back seats out of our Volkswagon van and squish the rear full of futons and pillows.

Hundreds of miles of icy roads with nothing but memory foam, siblings, and a cassette of The Muppets Greatest Hits to see us through! And I’d be remiss to not mention the generous rations of beef jerky and milk along with a guaranteed stop at our favorite podunk KFC that kept moral high. Good times…good times.

No, road trips just aren’t the same anymore. We didn’t play the alphabet game once on this trip. We didn’t play the license plate game, or I Spy. No one hit their neighbor upon seeing a VW bug, and no one counted the horses we saw.

But then again, no one threatened to turn the whole car around either. No one bluffed big time and left a troublemaker on the highway’s shoulder and drove away slowly…

I’ll save those kinds of priceless adventures for when there’s not a baby to wake.

Margaret Anderson is a BYU graduate, returned missionary, freelance writer and mother of five small children. Read more at www.jamsandpickles.wordpress.com