The Great Move

There are three sentences you never want to hear when you’re moving:

  1. “I thought YOU packed it!”
  2. “There’s no time.”
  3. “Uh oh.”

Hearing one of these sayings, at any time, is bad enough. Hearing all three in one day has got to be a record. What did we do to deserve this triple whammy of misfortune? The day started well enough; we woke up on time and loaded the mattresses into the minivan. The kids were actually in decent moods when we woke them, as we hustled bags, pillows, and offspring out the door. I buckled my son up in our comfortably sensible Dodge Caravan, while my husband Jeremy and our daughter clambered into his wildly impractical four-wheel drive truck.

The trouble started at the ferry. I didn’t have my son’s sippy cup of warm milk; the one he drinks before his nap as part of his wind-down routine. The very specific sippy cup, the only one he’ll drink from. A quick chat with my husband, a confused look on his face, and the first inauspicious uttering: “I thought YOU packed it!” Okay, no big deal. Kids are adaptable, right? The hostile look on my son’s face said otherwise. As the slow rocking of the ferry lulled him to sleep, I sat quietly in the front seat, not daring to move. Delicately maneuvering the van off the ferry once we docked, I drove with bated breath and silently counted every minute of his nap. Mercifully, he did manage to sleep for half an hour, which is more than I hoped for. Unfortunately, the dramatic twisting and turning of the road we were on caused his head to flop back and forth, waking him up and causing him to scowl furiously at me from the back seat (not even two years old, and he’s mastered the stink-eye!)

With the minivan now containing one grumpy toddler and a stressed out mom, we pulled over for a bathroom break. We were at a rest stop, stretching our legs and eating cheese sticks and muffins. This time, the trouble started with my daughter saying she needed her stuffed puppy; the one that had apparently ended up in my vehicle. As my husband buckled her into her car seat, she loudly insisted that she needed to look for it herself, since she knew exactly where it was, but she wasn’t telling because she wanted to get it on her own. Anxious to get the house keys from the realtor’s office before it closed, we had more pressing issues than a misplaced toy. Growing more and more irritated, my husband finally said: “there’s no time!” and we were one step closer to total chaos.

With all four family members teetering on the edges of cranky meltdowns, from the backseat I heard my son say: “uh oh.” I didn’t want to look around. There was no way this was going to end well. Those two syllables have never, in the history of parenthood, been followed by good news. No one has ever heard “uh oh” and received a surprise birthday cake, or an unexpected cash prize. It’s always “uh oh, I dropped your wedding ring down the sink” or “uh oh, someone left the gate open and I can’t find the dog.” Hesitantly, I looked at my son in the rearview mirror, and it was just as bad as I suspected. He had somehow gotten hold of a family size bag of cheezies, and the contents of the bag were cascading from his lap, into his car seat, and onto the floor. His pants were orange, his socks were orange, and there was bright orange fallout everywhere. A blizzard of fake cheese dust was settling like a gentle snowfall. At this point, there was nothing I could do. We had a lot of ground left to cover, and fresh clothes for my son were crammed somewhere in the bowels of the van, probably next to my daughter’s stuffed puppy. So on we drove, with my bright orange son and my clown car of a minivan, the baby happily licking cheese dust from his fingers.

In terms of road trips, this wasn’t the worst one I’ve been on. Arriving at our new house with my son, who was now more cheezie than toddler, I was proud of how my family had rolled with the punches. Walking through the front door of our new forever home, tears of happiness slipped down my cheeks. I knew I would cry at some point on this trip; I’m just glad they were happy tears, not “I’m-so-frustrated-I-want-to-rip-my-nose-hair-out” tears. The day ended with my daughter and her stuffed puppy reunited, my son rinsed of all traces of snack food, and my husband and I drinking lukewarm champagne. We celebrated amidst the welcome chaos of our new kitchen, and the good news is we never have to move again.