Family

Family road trips: Getting there is not half the fun

Nov. 15, 2012 at 11:39 AM ET

Crosby, Jaxen and Maya Ruhalter are on their way to 'there,' as in, 'Are we there yet?'
Courtesy Eric Ruhalter
Crosby, Jaxen and Maya Ruhalter are on their way to 'there,' as in, 'Are we there yet?'

I’m going to say this once for the record: When you are traveling by car somewhere with kids, they know that you’re not “there yet” when they ask “Are we there yet?”

Truth of the matter is, once you get there it’s not “there” anymore, it’s “here.” So if a kid really thinks there’s a chance that they’re “there” yet, they would ask “Are we here yet?”

And, believe you me, there’s no one who wishes they were “there yet” more than the Moms and Dads fielding that question over and over every car trip. They‘re the ones really suffering. What are the kids complaining about? How much would you love to be lounging in the back seat, watching DVDs, listening to music, perhaps indulging in some video games, books, puzzles and insightful games of I Spy as the scenic vistas roll on by?

And there’s a Mom or Dad co-pilot in the other front seat, and it’s their job to get you juice boxes and dish out crackers or pretzels or granola bars, and to adjust the volume, radio station, temperature and/or lighting. Your own on-the-road concierge. Seems like a pretty pleasant travel experience to me. Are we there yet? I would hope not.

That is until one of the other kids in the car does something unthinkable. Something like … put their foot on your side if the seat. “WHAT?! They can’t do that!!!!” So you put your foot on their side. “TOUCHE!!” And then it’s the other foot, and a hand, and next thing you know it they’ve hurled their whole body over into your space and a vicious slap fight has erupted. And the driver and on-the-road concierge start screaming and reaching back and separating you as the car accelerates and swerves. They heatedly admonish everyone to stay in their own seat and keep their hands to their selves. Soon, but not too soon, civility is restored. And the scenic wonders, steeped in history, continue rolling by.

And then you’re trying to read, and then you feel it, the blowing. But the window’s not open. There they are in the next seat, your vengeful sibling, discreetly but purposefully channeling their breath onto you. Breathing on you. Contaminating your skin with their foul mouth stench. They’re on their side. They’re not touching you. So they’ve got you on a technicality. Breathing? Who enforces that? Highway Marshal law erupts, and you put your foot on their side, then they put theirs on yours, it escalates. More yelling, more swerving. More parents questioning their life choices. And the madness ebbs again. For now.

Best response I’ve ever heard to “Are we there yet?” was “Yup. We’re here. Get out.”

“But Dad we’re still on the highway going 70 miles an hour.”

“Oh, well then maybe we’re not there yet.”

You can tell when you’re finally “there” or “here” or whatever you want to call it. It’s when you see the grownups get out of the car and run far and fast away from the kids who’ve tormented them for all those hours. So once and for all, please note, kids: If Mom and Dad are still near enough to answer your question --No. We are not there yet.

Eric Ruhalter is the author of the humorous gift book for parents: “The Kid Dictionary: Hilarious Words to Describe the Indescribable Things Kids Do.” Watch the funny book trailers looking inside the book at http://www.TheKidDictionary.com

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