I just heard this AC/DC classic on Pandora and it reminded me of every time we drive anywhere, but it especially reminded me of our road trip to Oregon a couple of years back.
This is a reblog (How cool is that word?) of an original post from August 2010, “Is It Much Further, Papa Smurf?”
The video of Hellcat still kills me. Now she’s a kindergarten goat hefter.
How time flies… except when you’re in the car with kids.
About two weeks ago my wife and I loaded up our crew and drove to Oregon.
Because if you have four kids age six and under, the logical thing to do is pile in a vehicle and drive 2600 miles round trip (approximately 40 car hours) to see the ocean.
Faced with having to choose between either embarking on such a trek or neutering a full-grown Bengal tiger with a butter knife, most level-headed individuals would turn and walk directly to the silverware drawer.
But we’ve never been the sort for level-headedness, so early Friday morning my wife and I began packing our suburban and ushering the kids toward their respective car seats in anticipation of our departure later that afternoon, and at precisely 7:00 a.m. Saturday morning we were on our way.
Experienced parents know that actually getting the kids into the vehicle and strapped in is one of the most aggravating aspects of traveling with minis. Invariably, just about the time that you’re yanking the strap and cinching the last one down into his seat, you turn to find that two others have escaped.
It’s mind-numbing. Fortunately, we had to go through this routine no more than 25 times each way on our trip to the coast.
But as I said, we did manage to get on the road by Saturday morning, and it wasn’t long before Papa Smurf Syndrome set in.
Remember Smurfs? In nearly every episode Papa would lead Smurfette, Hefty Smurf, Rampant Hemorrhoids Smurf, Tourette’s Smurf, I Swear It’s Medical Marijuana Smurf, and the other Smurfs on a long journey in search of berries or to save No Concept of Personal Space Smurf from Gargamel and Azrael. Without fail, one of the Smurfs would ask, “Is it much further, Papa Smurf?” minutes into their journey, to which Papa would calmly reply, “Not much further, my little Smurfs.”
And remember how after the third such inquiry (it’s always in threes), Papa Smurf would snap?
“The next Smurfin’ Smurf that Smurfin’ asks me how much Smurfin’ further is going to get a Smurfin’ Smurf up the mother Smurfin’ Smurf compliments of my size-Smurf Smurfin’ left boot!” And then he’d Smurf a pull from a bottle of Captain Smurf and keep on a Smurfin’.
At least that’s how I remember it. I was like seven.
Anyway, approximately 38 feet from the end of our driveway, Perpetual Motion, the 4-year-old, asked, “Dad, are we to the ocean yet?”
“Have you ever been able to see the ocean from our house?”
“Well, if you look out the window to your left, you’ll see our house. So it’s going to be a while. Take a nap.”
It’s those kinds of comments from your kids that at first blush seem cute and funny, but then you start to really think about what they’ve suggested and cringe.
Had we ever passed a large body of water while driving down the lane in front our house? Why would one suddenly be there? You sort of realize that your efforts to educate your kids are falling woefully short when they say something like that.
Another example from earlier in the summer at our local county fair: after checking out the craft exhibits and swarming the rent-a-clown, we walked through a building where the kids petted some rabbits and molested some goats. (On our trip to the coast we found that this is a fairly common practice for our kids when we visited a walk-through safari, although the teamwork demonstrated is admirable.)
As we walked over to another collection of stalls at the fairgrounds, I asked the kids what other animals we might see at the fair. The 6-year old, Slim, chimed in with pigs, Perpetual Motion offered cows, and then the Hellcat, our 3-year old, threw out whales, serious as can be. Kick Ass Wife looked at me and smiled. But I couldn’t let it go.
“Whales, Hellcat? Oh wait, yeah, I forgot: the whale showmanship competition typically takes place after the penguin sale but before the giant octopus rodeo. Are you kidding me? We’ve probably read you a minimum of 30 different books about farm animals, we have a miniature farm set complete with red barn and farm animal start-up kit, and you come up with whales? How about horses? Chickens? Any of those ringing a bell? Even llamas would have put you in the ballpark. But whales? I’m disappointed, Hellcat. You need to go sit in the car and think about this a little bit.”
Okay, so actually I just patted her on the head and bought her a snow cone, but I was a bit flabbergasted by whales.
But back to the trip. True to form, PM asked if we were to the ocean twice more before we even reached the on-ramp to the interstate, once when we were passing our local Wal-Mart. If this continued, I was going to be looking for a sheer cliff face to Thelma-and-Louise off of before we even hit the Wyoming border.
Then, suddenly, I had a devious-yet-brilliant idea that could potentially lop 38 hours off of our drive. I ran it by Kick Ass Wife.
“Hey, if the kids are asking if we are at the ocean yet, we can find just about any body of water, call it the ocean, and they won’t know any different. ‘Yep, this is the Pacific Ocean, kids. See all of those beached Jet Skis on the other side of the lake, er, I mean ocean? That’s the coastline of China. Soak it all in, kids. Soak it all in.’ We could save some serious coin, be home by nine tonight, and potentially avoid becoming a flaming scrap heap at the bottom of a deep ravine.”
“Just shut the Smurf up and drive,” KAW replied.
Where’s a bottle of Captain Smurf when a fella needs it?