Family road trip—the Flintstones and Us


If you have never done a road trip in your life you are seriously misusing your leisure time. I often wonder who explored the first road trip. Picture this, a pre-historic man piles on a half-eaten dinosaur carcass on his back and announces, “Family, we are off on a road trip.” It must have been so easy for the woman of the cave to abandon her foraging, tuck her babies under each arm, piggy back her toddler and let out a high pitched scream to the distracted teenagers to obediently conform to the father’s decision. The mountain man had spoken and everyone fell in line with Neolithic precision.

Today’s family scene is very different. Wearing the crown of social secretary, the woman of the household announces, “Family, we are off on a road trip” at the dining table. There is pin drop silence. Call it selective hearing or stone deafness as no one twitches a muscle. The announcement is made louder and with authority the second time and she is greeted with an exasperated response of “we heard you the first time mum”! Communication is a fine line folks. When the kids are young they jabber incessantly. As they get older, words give way to grunts and shoulder shrugs. Past their teens answers are overt mumbles under their breaths interspersed with silence. Clairvoyant mothers pass the test. Others fall by the wayside.

“Generation gap has a sneaky way of raising its head when music starts to play. My finely tuned mature ears cannot bear the non-stop chatter of a voice labelled ‘music’ with ‘yos’ thrown in”

Mother’s (my) interpretation: husband will fit in with the program, son has a game of rugby restricting his departure time to post game and the twin daughters have a party to attend on Friday night. A decision is made that departure will be midday on Saturday morning. Who wants to mess with the princesses catching up on their beauty sleep? Marvelling at my inherent strength and perception, I sing Lorde’s Royal… We crave a different kind of buzz, Let me be your ruler (ruler), you can call me Queen Bee, And baby I’ll rule (I’ll rule I’ll rule I’ll rule), Let me live that fantasy.

Dawn on Saturday morning finds me elated, with a spring in my step and a song on my breath (not Lorde’s one) while I hastily pack a few board games, binoculars, band aids, board shorts and a ball amongst a few other things. A family that plays together stays together. We set off at the designated time and I drift into a dreamy vision of sapphire sparkled beachside and the car driving through a sanctuary of forest, myriad technicoloured birds cooing on their perches and Louis Armstrong singing “What a wonderful world”. Family interactions are so wholesome for the spirit and chilling together sharing sunsets is what dreams are made of.

Let my dreams not get in the way of reality. STOP… close eyes and exhale.

If you think that a media storm in a Dove bottle was alarming, think again. Storm in the vehicle was simmering.

Generation gap has a sneaky way of raising its head when music starts to play. My finely tuned mature ears cannot bear the non-stop chatter of a voice labelled ‘music’ with ‘yos’ thrown in. What is that musical instrument? Apologies, it is the guttural voice of a human being passing off as a drum. Need I say more? Time to change the CD!

Food always has a nonchalant way of placating an uneasy situation within the confines of a car. I take out some masala chips. I fail again. The smell envelopes the car like cheap perfume and the twins are distressed. The MOTH (Man of the House) is happy and chomps away while the son pokes around in the food basket wanting to assess what else there is to eat. Out comes the samosas and sandwiches. Why don’t our kids ask us “Are we there yet”? Instead the mantra of, “What’s to eat” is religiously repeated. Is it the way of the subcontinent that the mother has to be a roving restaurant? It was much easier for the Neolithic woman who could always blame the hunter husband for not finding the right nourishment.

The MOTH took over pontificating and extolling the joys of family time. That certainly helped as I slid into my dream world. Those were the days my friend, we thought they’d never end, we’d sing and dance forever and a day. Thank you Mary Hopkin!


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