Every Day Is a Story – On the Road · 17 July 2009

For me, every happening is a story. Whether it is going to Grandpa and Grandma’s, playing miniature golf, riding in a boat that conks out, just watching TV, or even eating, there is a story.

Last week, we took a family vacation to my parents’ house. I already wrote about our trip to the amusement park, Silverwood, when I talked about Thing 1’s ability and willingness to do kid stuff. But the other days provided little stories that will be meaningful memories for me as well.

I remember taking road trips when I was a kid. The four of us kids would sit in the back and watch the states go by. I am sure we never asked, “Are we there yet?” or any other annoying questions. I am sure we were just angels that my parents never had to try to entertain just to keep us quiet. (I can hear my mom saying, “Yeah, right,” in that tone of hers.)

Regardless of how we behaved during those road trips, I do remember playing Travel Bingo. We had Bingo cards that had pictures of things like tractors and silos. When we found something on the card, we would slide the little colored windows over the pictures to indicate we had seen the item. The little plastic windows made it easy to check each item and reset the board when a new game started. I remember looking out the windows searching for that horse or cow to finish get my Bingo or blackout. And of course, I remember the shouts of “Bingo!” when somebody finally won.

We had other games too. My favorite was making up stories as a family. Somebody (usually Mom) would start out, “Once upon a time…” or something like that. Then when she got to a critical part in the story and everybody was excited to hear what happened next she would say, “and then…” to pass the story onto the next person. Sometimes people would butt in with their own portions of the story but usually, we all kept quiet as the others weaved their portions of the tale. The stories usually made no sense, but they were always funny and extremely entertaining.

While I am sure my mom and dad have different recollections of our behavior on our road trip vacations, I seem to remember only having fun and just being together.

Traveling with our three sons and the dog has been very easy. The only complaints we get are about enough room or somebody talking too much. There are the occasional, “When are we going to be there?” questions, but it seems that we could travel forever without much more than a peep from the back seat. As long as the younger two have enough video games to play. And as long as we travel in the day so that our 18-year old can get some sleep.

Our boys do like to play games just like we did. We have played both Travel Bingo and the story games. My wife and I usually play Travel Bingo as a team so that I can concentrate on driving. (I would not recommend playing Bingo while at the wheel unless you memorize the card and have somebody else move the windows.) Our stories have been pretty ridiculous just like when I was a kid. Especially, considering the diverse ages of the boys – 8, 11, and 18. Still, the most prevalent games being played in our car on road trips are usually of the video kind.

Since they were toddlers, the boys have all had video games. Whether it was the Sega Game Gear or any of the incarnations of the Nintendo Gameboy, the boys have had their handheld video games from an early age. While the games keep the boys relatively quiet, it makes going on a car trip to scenic places a silly endeavor since their eyes would rarely look up to see the scenery. In the case of our teenager, one sleepy eye might open when my wife or I would point out beautiful vistas or breathtaking sights. All the boys’ eyes would get glued back to their video games or backs of eyelids with not much more than a cursory glance. I guess that I am to blame for the video games, but can not take credit for the amount of sleep teenagers need during the day. I guess I should count my blessings that traveling to get someplace is a pleasure without much noise from the back seat.

Thankfully, when we go to Grandma and Grandpa’s house or just about anyplace we do not need to keep our boys entertained like our parents had to do for my siblings and me when we were kids. The simple games like Travel Bingo and telling stories seem to be entertaining when all the video games have been played and the sleep tank is filled.

While I do wish that we could take a scenic road trip and have the boys actually enjoy the scenery, I will take what I can get – a pleasant trip and a nice story too.

© 2009 Michael T. Miyoshi

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