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Taking the Bull by the Horns

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It’s a beautiful Saturday morning and we are enjoying it together, in the car. I believe in taking the bull by the horns and that expression is never more relevant than when I find myself staring down the barrel of an 11-hour drive with three kids. The first time that I made the trip, the kids and I were leaving Mississippi to be with Clif in Orlando. My parents, obviously concerned about my stamina and the inevitable distractions, wanted to know how far I planned to drive “the first day”, but I had no way of knowing my, better yet our, limits.

I was six hours in (that does not equate to six hours closer to Orlando) when I realized that the pain would have to end before the earth completed its axial rotation. I had already killed one day and I was not going to spend a second day destroying brain cells and inflicting deep psychological scars on my children. That has been my driving strategy ever since. I’ve made the trip to MS on two other occasions but this morning Clif is taking his inaugural road trip. And I am glad to have him along, although not for the adult conversation because there’s not much of that to be had with three little people and six big ears so nearby. Actually, the best part about finally having a co-pilot is not being crammed into dirty, little roadside bathroom stalls with three kids.

Clif’s also good at creating distractions. His most impressive strategy is to provoke conflicts of his own in order to distract the kids from fighting with each other. Amazing. I have actually had to listen to all three of my kids tattle on their daddy as he grins at me from the driver’s side of the car. Clif’s latest trouble-making opus just occurred at our first pit-stop. As I am telling the kids, “in and out!”, he is shopping the junk food aisle. I have a cooler full of food and he knows it, “but it’s a road trip!”, he whines , as he shops the chicharrones and makes faces at the kids, who are delighted that I am being thwarted and that this is the first of an inevitable dozen gas stations.

Everyone loaded back up in the car, eager to share in Clif’s conquest and I was given the job of doling out the contraband. Guess what, kids? Super crazy-cool road-trip daddy just bought you “hot ‘n spicy” chicharrones!

Once when I was heading west across the central time zone, my mom tried to cheer me up by pointing out that I would “gain” an hour. Are you kidding? What use are time zones when I am losing a year off my lifespan every time I take one of these road trips? We left at 7:45 this morning and the first “are we there yet” was whined around 9:15. The second one was launched at 9:37. Now there’s contention that daddy is hogging all of the hot ‘n spicy chicharrones. I will consider the possibility that this ride is tougher on them than it is on me, but it’s not likely. It’s too bad; this would be a valuable life lesson in taking the bull by the horns.

We’ll be seeing you soon, Mississippi!

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