We vacation in Nags Head. This year we decided to stay Sunday to Sunday. If you vacation Saturday to Saturday and understand what Saturday beach traffic means, then consider saving yourself the knuckle whitening stress of bumper to bumper traffic and go Sunday next year. It worked for us.
Friday while I was at work, Leslie got most of our stuff ready to go. She packed the kids, herself, the overnight bag, the groceries, toiletries and bedding. I packed myself. 50-50. That's how we roll. Anyway, she packed during the day, unless she was working from home on Friday and her coworkers are reading this, in which case, she packed late late that night after working a full day in our home office. But anyway, when I got home it was all packed.
My NON tongue-in-cheek 50/50 piece comes from my roll which is. . . take the packed stuff and put it in the car. She still does the lion's share by a fair margin, but packing the mini van sucks. I opened the garage door and started packing. I think I got distracted because at some point our neighbor knocked on the door and said. . . "did you know your garage door was open and that your minivan trunk is open?" and I responded that we were going to the beach and that I was packing. And it took longer than it probably should have to convince her that I wasn't lying because I think the minivan was empty still and the trunk lid had been open for a couple hours. REGARDLESS. . . I got it packed.
We had a few last minute things to pack in the morning (shower stuff, jammies, slippers, etc) then we were off to the races.
EXCEPT THAT. . .
Lily was melting down. It started about an hour before we left and nothing could get her back under control. She was whining, wouldn't eat, wouldn't go on the potty, was angry at being fastened into the car and slapping at Leslie while she pushed her into place and had no interest in the movie we'd put into the portable DVD player that is often the savior of long car rides.
"She'll calm down once we're driving," we told ourselves.
We got both kids in the car and my wife was grabbing something from the house and came out just in time for me to turn the key in the ignition and for it to go. . . "Clickclickclickclickclick" instead of "Runinininin-vroom". From outside the minivan her eyes got wide and she mouthed, "what's that?" and I calmly replied, "What the hell do you think it is?" at the top of my lungs only the "hell" part was in my head and not out loud because the kids were sitting there. I tried again. . . "Clickclickclickclickclick".
"Is the battery dead?"
"Probably," I replied, before attempting to make it about her, "have you ever had your battery replaced?"
"I don't think so."
"Batteries usually last 5 years or so." In my head I think I was trying to make some sort of passive-aggressive argument for this being her fault as a result of her failure to replace the battery before it went dead. I had conveniently compartmentalized any memory of the hours I'd left the trunk open the previous night.
I got out of the car ran into the house for the keys to MY car. I opened the trunk and got out the jumper cables, popped the hood, and clipped the red to plus or the black to plus or something. . . I can never remember. Ultimately it doesn't matter as long is plus is to plus and minus is to minus, but whenever I jump a car my brain goes back to some partially obscured memory of a conversation with my father that goes like this:
"If you fasten the cables to the wrong posts your battery will explode!!!"
And that's all I remember. So I fastened the battery up and turned on the car and then popped the minivan hood and followed red (+) to red (+) and black (-) to black (-). I first clanged the two clips together though, because it sends out a shower of sparks if the battery is connected to them securely, and also (and, I'll admit, primarily) because it looks so badass when the sparks shoot out.
From inside the minivan, Leslie turned the key to a satisfying, "Runinininin-vroom". While the cars were connected we talked about what we'd do if it didn't charge the battery (for whatever reason) and calmed Emma down (she was getting upset because this is NOT the way family vacations are supposed to start). I disconnected the jumper cables, closed the hoods and put my keys back in the house.
We have a AAA membership and I know they'd have come out and replaced the battery if push came to shove, but while my wife ran in the house to try the still angry and crying Lily on the potty again, and after I felt a suitable amount of time had passed, I shut off the minivan, prayed to the flying spaghetti monster, and turned the key. . .
"Runinininin-vroom". LIKE A BOSS.
At this point my wife was back, placing the struggling and upset Lily back in her carseat before climbing in the van herself. She got settled in and I said, "Just a sec," and decided to make a last second pit stop myself before we took off. Only. . . only I had the minivan in reverse and was just holding us in place with my foot on the brake. When I opened the door and climbed out, the van started moving backward and Leslie shouted, "Jim!"
I jumped back into the fucking van. It was a "fucking" van at this point, despite every single solitary issue that had gone wrong being solely my fault, and shoved down on the e-brake before having the presence of mind to push the brake and bring the van back into park.
Shovels and brooms and my daughter's 10U softball banner (inexplicably still hanging in our garage months after the season ended) had clattered to the floor of the garage and I had to pull back inside far enough that the door wasn't wedged open by the crap still hanging on the wall.
I wanted to throw stuff. I got out and moved all the crap out of the way and then just said "fuck-it" and walked into the house to pee and cool off before returning to the van to leave. Emma was crying at this point. "This is NOT how family vacations are supposed to start!" Lily continued her own tearful agreement.
I took a long deep breath and climbed back into the van before putting it in reverse backing out. I felt the van bump something and made my peace with it (whatever. . . the car runs over it, we pick it up later) . . . until stuff started to snap and break and then I was like. . . NOW what? At this point I started laughing, because at a certain level of stress you just top off and start to giggle like a school girl. Not giggling madly. . . just laughing at the comedy of the situation.
I got out. . . I had shattered the push broom and bent into a 30 degree angle the handle of (and this made me a little sad) the steel core snow shovel we had gotten during "Snowmageddon" of two years ago. I kicked the broom remains out from under the minivan, tossed the shovel to the front of the van and climbed in. While I was out Leslie had started laughing and Emma, still crying, was saying very forcefully, "It's NOT FUNNY" and Leslie was attempting to calm her down. Lily continued to whine and cry unabated.
Eventually we closed the garage door and drove, and although Lily did NOT calm down once we started to drive, she DID calm down about 30 - 45 minutes later with the aid of some fruit snacks or gummi bears or something, I can't remember. Leslie handled that part. Emma also settled in and just hoped that the vacation would get a LOT better and end more happily than it began.
And it did. . .