The DVD Player

May 27, 2009 by Emily Johnson

The DVD Player

As promised, I am writing to debrief you on the car trip to Maine—two day’s drive up, two day’s drive back. Let’s call it “To DVD or not to DVD!”

We wrestled with the decision whether or not to lay down the dough for a portable DVD player. I grilled my friends with kids and even put the question out there on my Facebook status to see what folks thought. I received a lot of advice, and finally convinced my husband that we should just do it. So, we bought one, and my husband even set it all up in the car the night before we left after we stuffed the vehicle full of everything else.

At first, it went according to plan. The kids were cranky and restless in the car, and since my son, the three-and-a-half year old, saw it and knew what it was, in went a movie almost immediately. The sound was pretty poor, coming from our armrest to their ears, so we had to stop and buy a plug thingie that made the sound go through the car speakers. (I’m sure all the techie folks out there know what it’s really called.) Now we all had to listen to The Incredibles, or Elmo, or Baby Einstein. This would have been OK, except for one thing I hadn’t planned on:

I married Clark Griswold. Now this shouldn’t surprise me, the signs have been there all along, really. For many years, I’ve traveled with this man while he drives—with a giddy grin that surely hides the fact that he’s imagining himself driving a James Bond Aston Martin along the cliffs of an exotic coastline—and I imagine getting to drive. (One time I got to drive for half an hour when he was actually falling asleep at the wheel.) So, I’ve taken to projects, be it drawing, knitting, crocheting, reorganizing the glove box and my purse, cleaning the junk out of the side pockets of the doors, cleaning up the contacts lists in our phones. You name it. Whenever I run out of projects, I get the “just relax and enjoy the scenery” speech. I’ve seen scenery. Lots and lots of scenery. It’s pretty. I need something to do.

So, back to the story. After the first movie is over, I get out the DVD case to find another one, just as Clark surfaces. “You’re putting in another DVD? They’re just going to sit and watch movies all day?” I’m thinking, “Uh, yeah, that’s the plan…” but saying, “what do you want them to do?” Perhaps he’s thinking of the thousands of activities and toys I’ve crammed into their backpacks and backs of the front seats?

Dad: “They can look out the window and enjoy the scenery. Kids, just sit back and relax and look out the window. Look! Grapevines! Cool, huh? See those hills covered in grapevines? That’s called a vineyard! Isn’t it beautiful? See the hills, and look! A lake!”
Daughter: “Ahhhhhh! Melmo! [Elmo] Melmo!”
Son: “Can I get out at the lake and throw rocks in it? Where are the grapes? Mom, can I watch ‘Cre-bles’ again? I wanna see my movie player! Cre-bles! Cre-bles! Cre-bles!”
Mom: “Can they just watch another movie? They’ll be quiet.”
Dad: “They’re missing all this beautiful countryside. Would you just look at that and put down the iPod? You’re all missing it.”
Son: “Cre-bles!!!! Cre-bles!!!!”

So, they watched only two videos a day and “enjoyed the scenery” the rest of the time, or as I like to call it “kicked the seat, cried, dropped snacks all over, took all the activities out and didn’t play with them, and waited for the next video.”

In the end, would I recommend a DVD player for a long trip? Yes I would, unless you married Clark Griswold. Look kids, Big Ben, Parliament!

Previous entry: Maintaining Friendships

Next entry: I Love Dinner

But honey, people pay good money to watch the Griswolds and their adventures together. I’m simply providing you and the kids a genuine Hollywood experience. Besides, I know you wouldn’t have it any other way grin

By Andy Johnson on May 27 2009

As traveling is pretty much my middle name, my kids have grown to accept that the car is their second home.  I’m not hurt that I was not directly consulted on the “to DVD or not to DVD” question.  Not hurt at all.  Let’s just say though that my kids don’t even know that movies can be viewed anywhere other than a TV.  And that, my dear cousin, is a wonderful thing.  It’s the same as “out of sight, out of mind”.  When presented with a million toys, they will all be shuffled through and played with to varying degrees.  When there are no toys, they will develop alternative methods of entertainment.  Same goes for movies in cars.  When they don’t exist, the kids will learn to entertain themselves.  Ineveitably, some of those methods will include harassing their sibling(s), anoying this parent(s) or a healthy combination thereof.  But in the end, they will come to appreciate the grapevines, the elevation at which they are traveling, the blue skies, the tunes flowing from the radio or CD player or iPod.  They will sing songs with Clark Griswold, they will love the roadtrip.  They have to.

By laura on May 28 2009

Laura, I posed the question as a status update on my FB page…you probably missed it preparing for the trip to Maine! :o) And I hear ya! When I grew up and we made trips across the country to move every two years, I read books, lots and lots of Nancy Drews and Trixie Beldens! That and listened to my Dad’s music: Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Scottish Bagpipes, Emmy Lou Harris, Harry Belefonte, and more. And enjoyed the scenery while making sure Dad stayed awake!

By Emily on May 29 2009

And you wonder shy we haven’t hit the open road with Prince Vincent yet. Whew! Now I remember when I was growing up my Dad took the family on a road trip to Miami. I remember being in our family’s un-air conditioned red Subaru (way before Subaru was trendy) for what seemed like an eternity with my Dad drinking cans of beer the entire trip while my mom bitched at him the entire trip. Seems like families have evolved somewhat since the 70s. That’s back in the days, to quote Foxworthy, when the kids weren’t too good to go through the windshield with the rest of the family.

By Will on June 5 2009

Forgive the double post. Did I mention my Dad is the first in our family tree to walk upright?

By Will Brooks on June 5 2009

You turned out OK! You reminded me of napping in the back window of my Grandmom’s LTD and riding back from the beach in the back of my Dad’s pickup! Ahhh, memories of unsafer times!

By Emily on June 5 2009

OMG - We had an LTD too. I think we ditched the LTD for the Subaru eventually. I can’t say I ever napped in the back window though. Yeah, I turned out alright - I’m still working on my Dad, he sometimes reverts to walking on his knuckles again…lol…j/k.

By Will Brooks on June 5 2009

I’m thinking about being Clark Griswold for Halloween and probably the most important part of the costume is his ridiculous glasses.  Any idea where I can get a pair of these (preferably online)? 

Without prescription would be ideal, but I’d probably just pop out the lenses if they were prescription, so no big deal.

By Bart Johnson on July 3 2010

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