Road trip with babies proves parents lie

Published 5:00 pm Saturday, July 6, 2013

Column: Pass the Hot Dish, by Alexandra Kloster

People lie. Specifically fellow parents. They are the worst of the lying liars.

Oh, I know why they do it. They know you need a false sense of security so you will be brave, so you won’t lock your children in a room with a jar of peanut butter, a jug of water and a note that reads, “We went on vacation and were afraid to take you with us. Sorry. P.S. I don’t know if you’re allergic to peanut butter, so, you know, watch out for that.”

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Friends, I told you I’d let you know how our road trip went, and unlike my parent friends, I will not lie to you. You know that Cormac McCarthy novel, “The Road,” where a father and his son walk along a gloomy post-apocalyptic highway dodging nefarious gangs of marauders while pushing a grocery cart of expired canned goods? It was a lot like that, only not as much fun.

Everyone told us they’d sleep. No, everyone assured us they’d sleep. They didn’t sleep. Twelve hours in the back of a minivan, and they did not sleep unless you count the 10 minutes I hypnotized Gertie by rubbing her head and stomach at the same time.

We split the drive into two days. A nice hotel, room service, a couple of cribs, I ask you, what could go wrong?

We all know hotel rooms are gross. File that under, “Stuff I learned on ‘Nightline’ that I really didn’t want to know.” It doesn’t matter if it’s The Ritz or The Bates Motel, you’re going to want to keep that bedspread away from your face. When traveling with a dog, you get a pet room. That’s not a space you want to turn two crawling babies loose in, but how do you keep them suspended in midair? Where do you find a pint-sized hazmat suit? How do you give a baby a Silkwood shower after a night in a pet room?

And room service? There was a Big Boy across the parking lot, which would have been fine except Graham and I couldn’t decide which was worse, packing everyone up at 10 o’clock at night or drawing straws to see which one of us stayed back at the room with a panicking dog and two babies who only wanted to eat the germy remote control. We agreed we could all stand to lose a few pounds and went to sleep.

Except we didn’t. Sidney ran circles around the room barking. The girls were on a sleep strike and a crying jag. Sometime around midnight we heard a knock at the door.

“What was that?” Graham whispered.

“If I had to guess, I’d say it was a mob of angry lodgers coming to drag our menagerie of screamers to the town square where they will stone them with melatonin tablets and waterboard them with warm milk until everyone finally goes to sleep.”

“Don’t answer it,” his voice was grave.

“You don’t have to tell me twice.”

Eventually a tense quiet settled on the room. Around 3 in the morning I heard the unmistakable sounds of retching. Poor Sid, he was trying to tell me his nerves were shot by throwing up all over the bed. His gags were practically Morse code for distress. Dot dot dot, dash dash dash, dot dot dot, I hear you buddy.

I grabbed the flashlight out of the diaper bag and carried Sid to the bathroom. I bathed him, dried him and we held each other in the dark for a while trembling at the thought of sunrise.

For all my love of the old-fashioned, I was thanking the modern-technology gods the next morning for the DVD player in the van. I know what all the research says about showing television to children under 2, but I’m learning that sometimes you live and die by the motto, “Smoke ’em if you got ’em.”

“Baby Einstein” DVDs were the only thing that kept the girls semi-happy in their car seats. Four hours of “Baby Einstein” turned me into the village idiot. By the time we arrived at my parents’ house all I could do was hum Mozart and bob up and down like a dancing hand puppet.

Against all odds and good hygiene we’d made it. We had a wonderful time in Michigan and before we left my mom and dad said, “I bet they sleep all the way home.”

Liars, all of them, liars.


Woodbury resident Alexandra Kloster appears each Sunday. She may be reached at, and her blog is at