Road Trip Hell with Small Children? Sticker Books Rule

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People tell me quite often, "I don't know how you do it.  I can't stand being in the car with my kids for more than 3 minutes. I just want to accelerate up to 80, open the door, and jump out."

brooke drives us down the road on a road tripI'd had my final round of peek-a-boo over the passenger seat head rest.

Had it. Done.  Sorry sweet child - I love your squeaky giggle and the way you find thrilling suspense in guessing which side of the seat my head will appear behind next, but I'd like to rejoin reality for a minute.

Brooke was driving us up Highway 77 on a stormy Saturday afternoon because we knew that it was either:

  1. Go crazy waiting out the weather at the house, or
  2. Go crazy with a child in the backseat as we take a backroad drive where we could explore something new and take some pictures of stuff

See, people tell me quite often, "I don't know how you do it.  I can't stand being in the car with my kids for more than 3 minutes. I just want to accelerate up to 80, open the door, and jump out."

That's funny because I'm like, "I can't stand staying home with spilled juice on the carpet, playdoh stuck to the wall, and endless repeating hours of Playhouse Disney." A ride down the highway or a bumpy dirt road with a picnic in the desert is a winner in comparison.

But.  But a game of peek-a-boo from the front seat - an important method of passing the time strapped into the highway bound car - has a shelf life.  It's also quite funny how I can really get into that game. I can be honest enough to admit that, yes yes, I am the peek-a-boo master and the master needs to chill.

Chloe has this infectious laugh, and she really does think this is the most dramatic thing in life: Where's his head going to pop up?!?!? It's easy to love doing it. It's a dad's job, and I entirely expect you to find her laugh repulsive and obnoxious.  We're all hard wired like that.  I think the same of your kid's laugh too . . . don't be shocked, I'm just saying.

When I turned around to face forward, Chloe bellowed from the backseat, "I WANT MORE!"

Not wanting to dip into the juice reserves or offer up a salty or sugary snack just yet, I did what we all do to our children when they do that.  I ignored her. I ignored her hollars until I was more done hearing her shout I WANT MORE than I was playing peek-a-boo.

Brooke had an idea.  "Chloe, do you want your sticker book?" Chloe quieted and said, "Mmmm hmmm I want my 'ticker book."

I was like, "Huh, wha?"

"Look in the backpack, there's a book of stickers in there." Brooke told me. "It'll keep her busy until we find dinner in Superior." Moms are magical like this.

The sticker book has about 60 pages. The front half has thematic sections, such as "farm animals" or "sea life." And on those pages are a collection of animal outlines.  For each outline there's a matching sticker on a page in the back of the book. So, you getting the idea here?  Pick a sticker, find where it goes.  REPEAT.  OVER AND OVER AND OVER.

Brilliant book.  It's like an atomic blast of peace and quiet on a road trip with a child. Winner.

Chloe still needs some help peeling the stickers, but that's all the help she wants.  And she'll cry "I CAN DO IT!" if I don't give her the sticker right away.  Plus it's modestly educational: she knows, for instance, what a platypus looks like.  Yeah, I know.  Get Yale on the phone . . . like today, because my perfect 2-and-a-half-year-old knows the difference between a bobcat and a coyote.


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# R_Lefebvre 2010-03-30 12:46
Oh yeah, don't I know it. Glad to hear I'm not the only one. They keep Phil occupied for hours.

I only wish the stickers were actually reusable like they say they are. Sure, you can peel them off, but they'll never stick down properly again.
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