This weekend, we had our first road trip together as a family of four. It was Molly’s first real car trip ever. As far as I can recall, this was the first time she had ever left Austin.
The destination was Arlington, Texas, where my second cousin Worth was graduating from high school. We were warned that the ceremony itself, in which 750 people were graduating, was too long and for a mature. We were urged to consider doing “something else” with Claire and Molly during the actual graduation and just show up for the meet-n-greet afterwards at Worth’s house.
So rather than sit through the long, boring graduation ceremony, we sat through a long, boring drive to Arlington. The one-night trip took significant planning. We put together individual checklists of must-have stuff to remember for everyone, and we ended up with 55 things. Molly accounted for about half of the total. The list did not include the normal travel items, such as clothes, toothbrush, phone numbers, etc. The list was full of things like baby bottles, bottle scrubber, dish soap, bottle steam sterilizer bags, formula, teethers, bibs, Pack ‘n Play, baby sleep sack, kid’s pajamas, teddy bear, baby medicine, car window shades, DVD player, and so on.
Once we were on the road, the trip went surprisingly well. For a while, Molly and Claire seemed to enjoy having time to just sit and talk with each other. There was some giggling and a game vaguely resembling pat-a-cake. Claire also had a lot of questions for us about where we were going and who was graduating, and she indicated that she was excited to meet some teenagers. After a while, Claire started watching The Polar Express, her latest movie obsession, and Molly fell asleep and remained asleep for most of the trip. This was a double score because it would keep Molly from being groggy and irritable later.
Once in Arlington, we checked into our overcrowded hotel, where my parents were also staying, and headed to the graduation party. Molly’s cousins got to meet her for the first time. We passed Molly around from relative to relative. She had a little stranger anxiety (crying) early on, but she got used to everyone after a while. Claire got a little bored but did get to open up Worth’s graduation presents for him, which she did with great enthusiasm. She also got to admire cousin Richard’s yellow Corvette, which she could touch the roof of if she stood on tippy-toes.
Molly stayed up very late — it was 8:30 by the time we got her back to the hotel, about two hours past her usual bedtime! She and Claire ended up sharing the “living room” of the hotel suite, with Claire on the fold-out sofa and Molly in the Pack ‘n Play. Claire loved sleeping on the fold-out (a couple of weeks later at home, she asked for me to replace her flower pillowcase with a plain white one, just like at the Arlington hotel). And Molly took to the Pack ‘n Play just fine. Claire noted that the Pack ‘n Play was great because it could be used for “packing and playing”.
The next morning we had breakfast with my parents and headed back to Austin. The trip back was slightly less smooth. Claire got a little grumpy during a rest stop at McDonald’s because she wanted to keep playing on the playground (and she was clearly getting tired, although she would not admit it). And Molly ended up sucking on a pacifier from about Waco to Austin. Normally we don’t let Molly use a pacifier when she is awake, but the alternative was potentially hours of crying baby, so we made an exception for this car trip.
So there you have it, our first family road trip. I was initially scared it could have been horrible, with screaming and crying kids who couldn’t sleep or eat or settle down in a strange hotel room. But it went okay, and I am proud of both girls for making such great travel companions.
todo: Add pictures