You’re never going to believe this. The six hour car ride to Upstate New York didn’t suck. In fact, it was about as pleasant as any six hour car ride could be even without kids. I chalk it up to one single thing. (Drink) Dramamine. My mom and I started out at 6 AM with the three stooges and I drugged them up about a half hour before we departed. Within 15 minutes, they were out. And they stayed that way for quite some time. They spent the duration of the trip munching (drink) on snacks and binge watching Netflix movies I had downloaded in anticipation of sheer boredom. It was nothing short of a miracle.
The pleasant car ride set the tone for the entire trip. I had no idea how my kids would react to farm life. I mean they can be kind of high maintenance. They get all bugged out if there’s sand in their shoe or God forbid a moth flies into the house. And the only use Eleanor seems to find for a (drink) stick is a faux curling iron. I wasn’t sure they could hack it.
Not only did they hack it. They rolled up their sleeves like they had been living on the farm their entire lives. Eleanor discovered that sticks could be used to help bushwhack and guide her across (drink) steppingstones in the stream. Paige ventured through every tributary, fearlessly leading her siblings and coaching them about proper footing.
Abigail discovered a hidden talent for photography and used her siblings as subjects in an afternoon photo shoot.
Cynthia perfected the art of roasting a golden brown marshmallow. She got creative and used goggles to protect her eyes from bonfire smoke.
We saw deer and befriended the farm dogs and wild cats who had just birthed about a dozen kittens. Hours were spent trying to lure them out of the bushes in hopes of cradling them and trying to talk me (drink) into bringing one home. For the record, we remain a pet-free home but they fought a fierce battle.
We all agreed that a major highlight was riding the gators deep into the woods to a destination dubbed “Tin Cup” by my dad, who, eighteen years ago placed a tin mug on a branch and required anyone who visited the farm to take a sip of fresh, pure water straight from the “crick” as they (drink) say in farm country. Once you do so, you are officially inducted to farm life.
By day two, the older three had taken the wheel of the gator, nearly giving me a heart attack as they circled a field with the twins hanging out the back. I did take comfort in the fact that all three seem (drink) to have a pretty good sense of driving and didn’t gun it to see just how fast they could go.
It was adults only in the driver seat though, when we headed up a steep, rocky mountain to a clearing called Shangri-la where rows upon rows of soybean, radish, and kale had been planted to attract deer who gather nightly at sunset to graze.
There’s something about being plopped in the middle of nowhere with access to acres and acres of nature that just feels right. It puts things in perspective and suddenly, even though in the back of my mind I know it’s not, everything feels right in the world, if only for a little while. The (drink) kids must have felt it too. There was hardly any bickering and I sensed marked camaraderie as they explored, strategized, and made sense of the nature that surrounded them.
There were tears when we left and promises to return soon, maybe in winter to ride gators up the hill and tube down, the ultimate sledding adventure. I drugged them again and we headed home making sure they were fully aware that the better behaved they were in the car the more likely a return visit would be. Once again it was smooth sailing. Whether it was (drink) the Dramamine this time or a steadfast will to make the sledding trip a reality, I’m not sure. It doesn’t matter though. It was a family vacation that surprised me. Maybe they’re growing up after all.