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Cross-Country Road Trip

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We decided to drive.

Drive one another crazy, undoubtedly, but also drive across the country. An almost-4-year-old, a 9-month-old and an 18-pound rabbit get strapped in to a van for 33 hours of driving. Minimum. I’m not sure whether that is the beginning of a joke, an Adam Sandler family comedy or a horror film. My husband thinks the latter.

I persuaded him to drive. We will save money, I said. (We won’t.) The kids will love seeing the country, I said. (Nope.) The rabbit is too big to go on an airplane, I said. (Lies.) It will be so much fun! (To be determined.)

During times of transition, fears are often misplaced. I am not really afraid of moving to a town I don’t know (OK, maybe a little), becoming an entrepreneur (OK, maybe a lot) or moving to a house with a snake in the basement (now I’m just lying). Changes such as those are welcome adventures. To fear those things would be absurd (read: rational), so any fear I have of this change, I channel into something else: flying. I’ve always been a nervous flier. Not a crazy flier (not unless you think screaming and crying is crazy) but not a happy one. (Not until I take my Valium.) And in times of great transition, such as the one we are going through now, those tin cans soaring through the air — defying gravity yet opting not to equip each man, woman and child with a parachute — seem particularly unsafe.

Yes, I understand that driving is more dangerous than flying. But I don’t need Valium to drive. (Pretty sure that’s against the law.) Well, I guess that is to be determined. I’ve never driven across the country with an infant and a toddler before. (Maybe the law will understand…)

There are few things I have prepared for in all my life as daunting as preparing to drive 30-plus hours with little ones and a lagomorph. Certainly, any money saved on flights has been more than diminished by purchases of toys, portable DVD players, DVDs, singalong CDs and a 5-pound bottle of aspirin. I have made surprise goody bags to hand out every hour. I have strung Cheerios and Froot Loops to make snack necklaces. And I lined the car seat with plastic bags in case of a potty accident. And that was just for me; I haven’t even begun to think about the kids yet.

A mesh backpack was bought to carry the rabbit in when we make pit stops so he is not left in the hot car — as well as a mini litter box. Food. Grass. Water bottle. Will the rabbit need a toy? Perhaps a lovey? This is a big transition for him, too. I packed strollers and carriers of various sizes to facilitate transportation of children, depending on whether they are sleeping or awake, happy or grumpy. And there are snacks. So many snacks. A lifetime of snacks. Basically, enough food to end world hunger is sitting in the back of our van.

Two different routes have been marked up on the road maps — one way if we are having a great time and another if we are all huddled in a collective cry-circle, our feet wet from the salty pool of tears we are standing in, questioning why we ever thought such a drive would be feasible and wondering why we didn’t wear rain boots. We assume we’ll take the second route.

My husband says this drive will be a disaster, that we will regret the decision. I say that if we do, we just have a better story to tell when it’s all over. Mini disasters, such as these, often make way for delight.

“Remember when we were in Iceland and I was pregnant and our toddler was hungry and we drove six hours in the wrong direction?” I ask my husband. “We got to see a part of that country most people don’t.” He nods. “And what about that time we were lost and driving through darkness in a scary section of Namibia and we were terrified? You now say it was one of your fondest memories of that trip.” My husband nods again. “But that was just Africa,” he says. “Africa has nothing on 40 hours of the ‘Frozen’ soundtrack singalong.” I nod.

Maybe we should fly.

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