Friday, June 29, 2012

Waterboarding and iPads

Like parents everywhere I worry my kids get too much screentime.
That expression is a perfect replication!
The big exception to that concern is when we go on roadtrips.

My childhood roadtrips were spent staring listlessly out the backseat window, reading books and, when all else failed, sleeping in an attempt to make time move more quickly. In short, I dreaded roadtrips.

My kids have an entirely different attitude. What's to dread when roadtrips are a chance to gorge on the newest video games and catch up on movies? The portability of electronic devices has turned roadtrips into a no-holds barred screentime least that's the way it plays out in my car.

Child #2 loves video games the way Paris Hilton loves photographers. Before our recent roadtrip to Yosemite he assured us he was more than capable of overseeing the charging necessary to make sure his gaming devices were shipshape and car ready.

My husband and I made the rookie mistake of taking him at his word.

A hundred miles into our trip a panicked wail rose up from the backseat. "My DS is on RED."

This information was followed by broken hearted sobbing, the kind of tears you might envision someone crying if their childhood pet had died. But no, the only thing in danger of dying was a small red handheld gaming device.
These aren't my kids but you get the idea!

"Let's play car games or sing," I suggested. The wailing from the backseat increased several decibels.

"I guess you've learned your lesson," my husband said in the direction of the backseat. Then he asked me more quietly, "How long do you think he can cry?"

I shrugged my shoulders and said, "Looks like we're going to find out."

It turns out Child #2 had a lot of tears to cry over his DS deprivation. He cried, off and on, for the next hundred miles. By the time we crossed over the mountains and reached the first outpost of civilization in southern Oregon my husband was done.

"Where are we going?" I asked as we veered off a freeway exit at high speed.

"I can't take another hundred miles of that," he said. "I think it's time to buy an iPad."

Even though we don't like to think of ourselves as the kind of parents who reward lack of foresight and a tantrum with a fancy new toy, it's funny how desperation can eat away at your resolve and make you rationalize all kinds of things.

In the unlikely event any CIA operatives follow this blog, I think I've hit on a humane, but equally effective, alternative to waterboarding.

Torture by the tears of a seven year old boy in a speeding vehicle. I'm certain it would be sufficient to bring even the most hardened terrorists to their knees.

In the end it turned out our unanticipated purchase of an iPad had an interesting side benefit. Namely, a large amount of videos taken that discuss Yosemite National Park without any footage of the actual park. I would post some of them...but I think maybe it's best to leave torture to the experts.


Carol Kilgore said...

I'm delighted to know I'm not the only one who goes places with good intentions and comes away without photos (or in your case videos) of the most important, exciting, or photogenic aspects. Sigh.

Glad you stopped the crying :)

L. Diane Wolfe said...

I agree with your husband - I couldn't have endured it any longer either.

Jenny S. Morris said...

I have just witnessed a scene from my upcoming trip. ;0) Our sons sound like twins. Ha. We are doing a ton of the driving at night so I hope this will help with the battery life. And yes, being trapped in a car with a child whose DS battery just died is worse than water boarding.

Beylit said...

My mother always just drugged me lest we spend the entire trip listening to me talk non stop, or constantly begging to pull over so I could throw up. Of course she would have probably also left me on the side of the road for ten minutes to scare me silent rather than to buy an iPad.

Sarah Ahiers said...

aw man! I LOVED road trips as a kid. Heck, i still do! Reading and singing and playing games. It was good times

Johanna Garth said...

Carol, you're definitely not alone there!

Diane, it was amusing to watch his resolve crack.

Jenny, no roadtrip is complete without a little backseat whining. ;)

Beylit, it sounds like roadtrips are not fond memories for you.

Sarah, roadtrips really are fun. Lots of family time after the kids get tired of the video games.

Margo Berendsen said...

Our DVD player started skipping badly in the first 100 miles of a 600 mile trip. So I know the awful feeling! - and we even debated buying a portable except we were on a very deserted stretch of highway.

We made it another 100 miles with no movies and the kids griping. We tried the DVD player again. Still skipping. IN a moment of utter frustration, my husband reached up to where it's attached to the van roof and pounded on it! - and it started working perfectly again!!!

I've never seen that actually work outside of Star Wars movies.

Mark Koopmans said...

Hey Johanna,

No joke... one of the reasons we bought our current minivan was because it has a "normal" electrical outlet, so we could just plug stuff in and not search for the car adapter...

Now, all we have to do is remember to bring the charger.

Thanks for a very funny post and for allowing me to join the "I'm not the only one" club :)

Shell Flower said...

When my son was that age, it was Harry Potter books on audio that saved my sanity. Gameboys weren't even out yet then, so books on tape seemed pretty cool. I remember playing A LOT of "I spy" and the alphabet game on roadtrips. We never sang, though, that would be like waterboarding in my family.

Sabrina A. Fish said...

Not to self: Never depend on the kiddo to make sure the Kindle Fire, the PSP, or the Leapster are charged. Got it! *grin*

My son is 5 and so I never even considered allowing him to be in charge of such a necessary thing as the electronics when we drove from Oklahoma to California last December. And now I never will for any future vacation.

Glad to know that you survived such a terrible torture.

Talli Roland said...

That does sound like pure torture... eep! I think I'd have broken down for sure and bought more than an iPad!