Monday, June 25, 2007

Are We There Yet? Are We There Yet? Are We There Yet?

We just got back from a whirlwind trip that included 8 hours
in the car on the way to our destination, roughly 40 hours at our destination
and 8 hours in the car on the way home. It was a little rough on all of us and I have returned with a burning
question: How do you explain the concept of time to a four-year-old? 

In a very Bart Simpson way, my son asked repeatedly in the
car how much longer we had to go. My
husband and I answered him to the best of our ability but he kept throwing
curve balls at us. Here’s how our
conversation went:

Son: How much
longer until we get home?

Me: About three

Son: How long is
three hours?

Me: Well, it’s
about how long you are at school during the school year.

Son: Oh. How long is that?

Me: Three hours.

Son: How long is
three hours?

It was a circular conversation. I tried to equate increments of time to common events in my son’s
life. Twenty minutes was a trip to
Katherine’s house. An hour was a trip
to Grandma’s house. Two hours was one
movie, etc… Things were much tougher at
the beginning of the trip when the answer was seven hours. I had nothing. I said things like, “Seven hours is how long Daddy and Mommy
sleep at night.” My son had no concept
of this but it got him to stop talking long enough for me to get a little bit
of shut eye before his next inquisition.

Our next family vacation is a little over a month away. This one will probably take us about ten
hours each way. I need to start doing
some research now so that we have a plan of action for filling those ten
hours. I Spy and a couple of DVDs can
only get you so far.


  1. O' how I love road trips! ;) With Austin I would tell him..and even to this day everything in minutes...
    Austin- How long until practice mom?
    Me- 1 hour
    Austin- How long is 1 hour?
    Me-60 minutes
    Then after that he stops asking me. I guess that is his way of understanding time. Good Luck with the next road trip ;)

  2. Back in the day when such things were a problem, we used to pack the 'ol wagon up the night before, try to keep the rug-rats up pretty late, then carry them to the car in the wee hours of the morning, trying not to wake them, all three of them seemed to sleep well in the car, so we could sometimes get in 6, maybe 6 1/2 hours of driving before they started to whine for food and a potty break. Now-a-days, all I have to listen to is the whining, "Are we there yet?" for the 2 hour drives between rest stops. So... pretty much the best you can hope for is a different page in the same chapter for the rest of your life, sorry to be the one to break this to ya.

  3. Thanks Candice. I'm thinking Benadryl might be helpful for our next trip.
    Just kidding of course!

  4. The wee hours of the morning, huh? That might not be a bad idea Papa Dale. Unless, of course, it backfires and the kids don't sleep and keep US up!

  5. I bought a bunch of new toys, good for car rides for our trip last year. It will be interesting though this year b/c Trey is in that "why" stage too. He can go on and on and on.
    I like to put books, doodle pads etc... I hope they sleep some, b/c it will be around naptime.