Driving under the influence

I confess, I am guilty of driving under the influence. And no, I’m not referring to the controlled substance kind. I mean the kind that probably most parents have experienced at one time or another: Driving Under the Influence of Kids, or DUIK.

You hear all the time about the dangers of using mobile devices while driving. Earlier in the year, Oregon passed a new hands-free mobile device law. And I am totally on board with all this. The yahoos that drive and simultaneously text/talk on the phone/surf the internet rank high on the list of my own personal pet peeves.

That said, the irony of all the research and controversy over car mobile devices does not escape me. Frankly, I’ve found that driving with munchkins in the car CAN be, and oftentimes IS, exponentially more distracting than any cell phone conversation I’ve ever had.

Driving under the influence of kids is usually not without at least a little excitement. Some familiar hazards of the road include:

  • Danger: Falling Objects
    There’s nothing like attempting to retrieve a dropped sippy cup, stuffed animal, or binky while navigating through rush hour traffic. These are actually some of the few times I’m grateful for red lights.
  • “If you feel like you’re going to be sick, use… oops, nevermind.”
    Thankfully, I’ve only had a handful of incidents involving one of my kids blowing chunks in the car. I would like to offer my sincere thanks to the person who invented rubber floor mats… you are a true genius.
  • Next rest area: 50 miles??
    Don’t get me wrong, I’m elated that Bobo is now potty trained. I have learned the hard way, though, that sippy cups and car rides do not go hand in hand. I also find myself making a mental note of the gas stations we pass in case we need to make a quick 180 later on.
  • “Um, what’s in your mouth?
    Usually, the item in question is an old cracker or raisin my kids manage to find in one of the crannies of their carseat. The other day, though, I glanced in the rearview mirror and saw Chip in the backseat, nibbling on a mysterious non-food like item. I maneuvered to the side of the road and pried open his little jaws. Apparently, Chip found a small, plastic bunny that Bobo had left laying around in the car, and proceeded to chew the ear off it. I am glad I noticed it before he ingested it; that would not have been a fun thing to watch for coming out the other end.
  • “This here car ain’t big enough for the two of us.
    Few things can raise my blood pressure like a wailing child in the back seat. I remember driving to the coast in inclement weather when Bobo was a newborn. She screamed nonstop for the entire car ride (about 3 hours straight). By the end of that trip, J and I were both convinced she would be an only child (guess we were wrong about that one).

This isn’t to say I don’t enjoy driving with Chip and Bobo. The above driving hazards aside, my kids are actually pretty good car travelers. We’ve also learned a few tricks of the trade, including burning a CD of eclectic ” mood music” we like to rock out to (J has been giving the kids air guitar lessons), as well as having a stash of movies, toys and snacks close at hand at all times.

And sometimes, if the stars are aligned just right, the view from the rearview mirror can look pretty sweet.

Ironically, this is an actual picture taken from my phone while in the car with the kids one day. Yes, I was driving. No, the car was not in motion at the time.

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