Parenting: Family Vacation!

I just returned (alive) from the annual Draper-family vacation to northern Michigan. In days past, I used to pack 1 bag, wake up and drive 11 hours. Maybe I'd stop for lunch at Wendy's. Now that it's me, the Mrs, and 3 sons ages 6, 4, and 1, I feel like we're about to start a new life out West and need to prep the Conestoga Wagon. We're packing coolers, snacks, books, pillows, a crib, snacks, toys, baby-gates, snacks, the family piano, a cyanide pill that I keep in a locket around my neck.  

We'd been a little leery of the 1-year-old. After all, he shits his pants, has a limited vocabulary, and gets quite a bit of his sustenance from a lady's nipples. We were worried he may not make the best travel companion. 

But the 1-year-old must have chatted with the 4-year-old and come to an agreement as to who would jerk us around, because 3 days before we left, it was the 4-year-old who contracted Hand, Foot, & Mouth disease. 

To say he doesn't handle pain well would be an understatement. A splinter in his foot can send him into a 2-hour spiral of banshee-esque screaming. With Hand, Foot, & Mouth, we found ourselves stuck in Chicago traffic with him screaming as loud as he possibly could that, "MY MOUTH HURTS! MY MOUTH HURTS! AHHHHH!!!!! MY MOUTH!!!! ..... IT HURRRRRRRRRTS!!!!!"

"What does, buddy?"

"MY MOOUUUTTHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

I don't know exactly what hell is like, but I know that I'm headed there (for stuff unrelated to parenting) and that sitting in traffic with a screaming toddler is a good preview.

Pushed to our wits end, we decided to get 2 hotel rooms for the night. I'd stay in 1 room with Mr Screamy and my wife and the other kids would stay in different room. Our life has come to deciding between who will be tired the next day.

"What do you have to do tomorrow? Can you be tired?"

We had already booked 1 room at the Comfort Inn in Stevensville, Michigan. You may have seen it from the Interstate. Or if you ate at the Cracker Barrel in Stevensville, Michigan. We called to book an additional room, and they only had 1 left: "The Honeymoon Suite" for $238. Sure it was pricey, but it did come with a "heart-shaped whirlpool tub" and a "fireplace," and I left my cyanide pill at a gas station.

Now, the Comfort Inn was nice. But if you're Honeymoon starts looking out over a parking lot and a Baymont Inn next to a Mexican restaurant in a building that used to be a Popeye's Chicken, you should stab your significant other in the grundle, 'cause you've made a huge mistake. 

But my son liked it. "Wow, Dad, this is almost as nice as the Ramada Inn!" 

"Great, buddy, how is your mouth?"

"Oh, yeah ..... it HURRRRTTTTSSSS!!!!!!!!!!!! IT HURTS!!!!!"

"Hold on a minute, son, I'm going to check the Comfort Inn Honeymoon Suite gift basket and see if they gave me any cyanide pills."