The Longest Drive


Back by popular demand, we’re pleased to bring another guest
post by blogger and author Sara Whitman. If you missed Sara’s
previous post, you can read it

. And, if you’re like us, and can’t get enough
of Sara, you can visit her blog,

Going to Maine for vacation is always the longest drive. I’m
completely exhausted, ready to crash. The kids are revved up and
ready to go. Bad mix. Kind of like Red Bull and Vodka.

I remember once, when my sons Ben and Zachary were four and two,
even in their car seats they actually had the ability to drive me
right over the edge. Laughing. Screaming. Crying. Laughing.
Screaming. Whining. What do you do when you are the only adult in
the car and you have another forty-five minutes to go? I pulled
over, got out of the car and shut the door.

I have a Volvo wagon (Do all of you suburban lesbians drive Volvos?
a friend, Stephen, asked. Why yes, we do. I answered. And we all
wear one piece Speedos, gym shorts and Keens lest we be kicked out
of the club). Very sound proof. While the cars rushed by, I took a
deep breath. I couldn’t hear them screaming. Or laughing. Which
ever they were doing at the moment. I counted to ten.

A friend and much wiser parent, Anna, once told me, put yourself in
time out. It’ll drive the kids nuts and give you some room.

Before the safety police file a 51A on me, I know it’s not safe
to pull over on the highway. I’ve heard all the stories about
random tractor-trailers crushing entire families as they sat in
their disabled vehicle on the shoulder. But if I didn’t pull over
and step out, I was going to kill them.

Fast-forward seven years, and it’s not much different. Except
there are three of them. Plus a howling cat. No more car seats
keeping a barrier of plastic between them, each is capable of
physical contact.

The topics of conversation range from the movie they had seen the
night before, to poop and pee. It really doesn’t matter where
they start; it always ends up being about poop and pee. And then,
ultimately, someone touches someone and the shoving, pushing,
hysterical screaming begins.

Threats are issued from me. Don’t make me stop this car…

Which means what exactly? It’ll take another hour to get where we
are going? Who is that punishing? But it seems to work. At least
for a while, until they realize I am not going to stop the car. I
step on the gas instead.

The last time I did “the drive,” Jeanine, my lovely wife,
called me. Traffic is awful, I said. It’s going to take an extra
hour. The kids, as you can hear, are killing each other.

She laughed.

It’s not funny.

But I can hear the cat, she says. It really is funny. I mean, the
boys AND the cat? That’s funny.

Not from where I’m sitting.

I wonder, how is it that I am always alone driving the boys and
assorted animals up? Quietly, I plot a weekend away. To a spa.
Without her.

We hit another traffic jam. There is a correlation between
bumper-to-bumper driving and yelling. If we’re sailing along at
say, 70 miles per hour, they’re all pretty quiet. But slow down
to 30? Restlessness sets in.

More threats. I will put your TV in timeout.

Then, naturally, I put TV in timeout.

This absolutely punishes me.

Too late. I’ve said it. I have to stick to it.

The last ten minutes of the drive, I’m completely weaponless.
They know I’m not going to stop the car. TV is already in
timeout. Traffic on Route One slows to a crawl.

The cat howls.

It’s always the longest drive.