Monica and I broke down and did something on our trip to Abbotsford that we said we’d never do: We let the kids watch some movies en route.
By choice our van does not come equipped with a DVD player. I’ve been known to say, “When I was a kid, the window was our DVD player!” We didn’t need to watch a screen; we viewed the passing towns and scenery.
But it’s a long drive to Grandpa & Grandma’s house! We borrowed a portable DVD player and headphones from some friends, and our two children were quietly entertained by Thomas as well as Leo, June, Annie, and Quincy. Travelling from our house to my parents’ house took about 14 hours, including meal and bathroom stops. Of those 14 hours, the kids watched DVDs for about 2 hours (and not all at once). It was about the same for trip back home.
We’ve since returned the DVD player, thankful for having it on our trip. We’re also thankful for the blessing that our children are consistently very good travellers – whether it’s by car, plane, boat, or train. Finally, I’m personally also thankful for my amazing and creative wife who ensured that both our children had a variety of things to keep them occupied en route in addition to the DVDs:
— :: favourite blanket and stuffed animal for both
— :: favourite toy for both
— :: new colouring book for both (and crayons, of course)
— :: new book to look at and read for both, plus several favourite books
— :: homemade treasure bottles made with juice containers and rice
— :: counting activities (e.g. How many waterfalls can we see? How many
— :: tunnels are in the Fraser Canyon?)
— :: games (e.g. “I spy with my little eye…”)
— :: munching on snacks, most of them healthy
— :: planned stops at kid-friendly places
I suspect that if we owned the portable DVD player, we’d use it more often, just because it’s there. Without it, we’re motivated to be creative, and – for better and (when they or we are cranky) for worse – we also get a lot more interaction time with both children.
Car companies, however, are not fostering parental creativity nor parent-child interaction for long trips. …Or short trips, for that matter, as you can pop in a DVD for the run to the grocery store. Higher-end minivans and cars no longer feature a single screen that drops down from the ceiling, but integrate a screen into the headrest of each seat ahead. I don’t know whether you can play a different movie on each screen; if you can’t at this point, that feature will doubtlessly come soon.
The implicit message is that while you might be stuck in a vehicle all together, you can at least pretend you aren’t! Each individual (aside from the lonely driver) can stick in their earbuds and escape to their own private world despite the confines of the vehicle.
A more peaceful way to travel? Perhaps. The four of us enjoyed having the option during our holidays.
But I also think it’s less human as it does nothing to build the relationships between the travellers.
Interior view of the 2011 Volvo S60 from Family Car Review.
No, I’m not oblivious to the brouhaha over the world allegedly ending tomorrow (21 May). I just don’t have much more to add than what Andrew Holt, Matthew Paul Turner and Randy Alcorn have written about it in a very sensible, Biblical way.