Before I jump onto my mommy soapbox about DVD players in the car, I need to be completely honest: the eight-year-old inside me is jealous. That girl would have loved a TV set in her car.
You see, my mom was a huge fan of random road trips — and by random I don’t mean sporadic or on occasion. Road trips were a given on any Sunday with nice weather. The random part was where we would end up, or if we even ended up at an actual location. Often, there was no end in sight and it could sometimes be agonizing for my brother and me, trapped in our self-appointed “my side-your side,” with no distractions short of cow-counting.
But as an adult, and as a mom, I don’t love the idea of having a DVD player in the car so much. I certainly understand why parents choose to go this route. I can see how it would make getting kids into the car, buckled up, and ready to go phenomenally faster and easier. I am sure it is fantastic for a multi-hour car trip. I am even willing to believe the presence of car DVDs has significantly contributed to an overall decrease in the level of sibling-rivalry-related-noogies, were such things scientifically studied.
However, here is where I find fault: The whole point of our “random” family road trips were to force some quality family time on us — even if that quality time meant my brother and I were sitting silently, our arms crossed, and our noses in the air. Because it usually didn’t take long before one of us got bored enough in the quiet car to start playing the Alphabet Game with street signs until the other quickly joined in. By the time I was 12, we’d played every car game known to man and invented some of our own.
My mom was also a huge fan of audiobooks. You’re probably thinking that an audiobook is basically the same thing as a DVD – a distraction from quality family time, only without the images. I respectfully disagree. Audiobooks not only forced us to use our imaginations, but, more importantly, they were something everyone shared in. We all listened, even the folks in the front (who can’t watch a DVD with everyone else), and we would all talk about it.
One final point: not being shut off with earphones and squinting at a tiny monitor forced us to pay attention to things going on around us — scenery, signs, and yes, even cows. We all got to contribute to the discussion about where and when we stopped the car, because we were all active participants in the trip, not passive passengers.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying all families should take road trips every Sunday but I will say that it seems like families spend less and less time together during the day. If that time together happens to be limited to the rides to and from school, soccer lessons, or the movies, why not actually make it together time?
Speaking of road trips and family time, once you get everyone to turn off the electronics and tune in to all the fun you can have together, we hope you’ll enjoy the road trip-themed Mad Libs-type story below. For more family activities like this one, be sure to subscribe to Cobblestone.
Cricket Media Mama wishes the minivans with the DVD players would slow down. At least until she can figure out what you’re watching.