Driving (Me Crazy!) With Toddlers

Cynthia Dermody

I'm terrible with driving directions. I can't find an address in my own neighborhood, let alone my brother's new house, located an hour away, located across a bridge in the next state, located 10 miles off a major highway in the middle of nowhere and back again.

Concentrating on the driving directions, especially when I'm the one driving, takes every ounce of focus I have (nope, I don't have a nav, but I am accepting donations). It also doesn't help that I get car sick. All that on top of the fact that 100 percent focus with two chatty toddlers in the car is pretty much impossible, unless they are sleeping.

But my toddlers only sleep in the car when I don't want them too -- when I'm driving home at 6 p.m. at night, about 2 hours before bedtime, when that little snooze is enough to recharge them for another five hours or so.

So I knew when I loaded my 4 year old and 5 year old in the car last weekend and set out for my niece's first birthday party -- at a house I'd never been to before -- that it would not go flawlessly. If my DH hadn't been laid out in bed wincing in pain over a thrown back, I would have forced him to go with me. But I figured that two people whining in the car was enough.

I made the first wrong turn about 7 minutes down the road, after my daughter complained that the radio wasn't loud enough. "Put the music in the back, Mommy!"

Followed by me, fiddling with the CD player while saying, "That's not how you ask ... say please ...." Dang it. I was supposed to stay straight!

Then came the incessant questions, mostly from my very inquisitive son who thinks I know the answer to everything, from the eating habits of aardvarks to the number that comes immediately after infinity. Of course, I love his mind at work ... just not when I'm behind the wheel.

"Mommy, how many more minutes till we get there?"

"I don't know. I've never been there before. Just let me pay attention to the driving, please, so we can get there safe and sound."

"But how many miles is it?"

"A lot. I'm not sure. We've never been there before."

"What sign are you looking for? Maybe I can help you find it?"

"Um, well, it's Steadman Highway, but it's still a few miles away. And you can't read yet, honey. The best way to help Mommy is to sit quietly so I can read the directions."

"Mommy, how many minutes are in a mile?"

"Minutes? Umm, they don't really measure miles in minutes ...." Dang it. I was supposed to go left!

Still, I considered the day a real victory. Despite all the wrong turns, I made it to the party only a half-hour late. And after seeing all the balloons and favors, my son forgot all about his "minutes in a mile" question.

++What kinds of questions are your toddlers asking lately? What's the most outrageous one in recent memory?

Read More