They say that life is a balancing act and as parents, we’re expected to maintain the balance in many ways. Work versus home. Mercy versus discipline. Savings versus bills – well, not so much. Keeping the kids during a trip versus leaving them at a McDonald’s Playland.
At what point do I snap?
Travelling with one kid isn’t difficult, but the stress level rises with the number and ages of the kids along for the ride. The sheer volume of nonsense from the backseat makes the balance more difficult to maintain.
"Look at the Rocky Mountains!" "Where?" "I dunno, we’re in Virginia."
"My name Jimmy Bob, my name Jimmy Bob, my name Jimmy Bob, my name Jimmy Bob, my name Jimmy Bob…"
"Get your foot out of my cupholder!" "I don’t have room for my feet!" "I don’t care, get your foot out of my cupholder!" "Yeah, well your butt’s touching mine!"
"Don’t do that, that’s gross!" "Well don’t look." Oooh, gross! Dad, he’s looking at me! Make him stop!"
And as I sat up front and let the nonsense wash over me like a muddy rain, I realized that the balance between tolerant and ticked is quantifiable and objective.
Tolerance exists where XL > IQ, but as IQ approaches XL, then the upper limits of tolerance give way to ticked. Mathematically, XL is defined as the eXasperation Level and IQ is defined as the Idiocy Quotient. For calculation purposes, the calculation of each and components of each are:
IQ = (d)(t)(Vcs)n where d = distance of trip
t = traffic levels (defined by NHSA definitions)
Vcs = Volume of the confined space
n = number of children involved
Also, XL = (e)(1/Vcs)(h)-n where e = ease of departure, as measured by blood pressure
Vcs = Volume of confined space
h = hours slept
n = number of children
All of these variables will have an impact on the delicate balance on the trip. Some are uncontrollable, since you can’t start a trip having left a child behind, while others can be controlled. If you have more than two children, don’t try to take them across the Southeast US in a subcompact, rent a U-Haul.
However, you can make sure that you get sufficient rest and plan ahead so that the departure is easier than it has to be. This might even entail starting days in advance so that all of the bases are covered. Setting ground rules and consequences that are fair and easily applied. Have activities planned for the trip: games, music time, video time, quiet time.
The difference is that while you can control your variables, your kids can’t control theirs. Remember that, and you can actually sit back and enjoy some of the nonsense. So long as they don’t touch and invade one another’s private space.