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On The Road Again…

Well, we survived another several-hours-long road trip to western New York without killing each other, so I consider that a good kick off to summer.

I’m from Rochester and most of my family is still sprinkled around that city, so we make the trip maybe two or three times a year. When I was single, and when it was just Mike and me, we could do it in six hours, flat – five and a half hours of driving and one 30-minute break that included a trip to the restroom, and a meal/snack and coffee refill.

With a 6-year-old, it takes nearly all day.

Surprisingly, it was easier when he was younger. As a baby and toddler, he slept a lot. As he got older, he would be awake more and needed me to sit in the back and entertain him, but he didn’t seem to grasp just how much time was elapsing. We didn’t get the “Are we there, yet?” or “How much longer?” nagging.

Now we do.

They start at about the Newburgh-Beacon Bridge and last for 321 miles. We stop so Mikey can get his wiggles out. We stop so we can dig something out of the luggage in the back. We stop for snacks. And we stop for bathroom breaks.

Of course, we can never seem to combine any of these stops.

Example: On the way home from this last trip, we were able to make it to Binghamton before we stopped for lunch, which we considered a small win since that’s about half-way. My husband and I couldn’t stomach one more burger-and-fries meal, so we got something from Moe’s Southwest Grill before driving through McDonald’s for Mikey.

Before I went in to get our to-go food, I asked Mikey to come with me to use the bathroom, but he insisted he didn’t have to go. He did the same when we got to McDonald’s. After repeatedly telling us he didn’t need to go potty and “nothing is going to come out,” we decided to just go through the drive-thru.

Once my husband pulled back onto the highway, I passed Mikey back his Happy Meal. He did the usual procedure – placing the little French fry envelope in the cup holder of his booster seat and opening up the chicken nugget box on his lap. Although, this time he was also juggling the tablet, since we were letting him watch a movie on this trip.

Then, I pulled my burrito out of the Moe’s bag and put it aside, so I could hand Mike his lunch. Since he was driving, he got what they call a stacker – which is similar to a crunch wrap at another popular fast-food Mexican joint – because he figured it would be easier to eat one-handed.

So, I unwrapped the stacker, keeping the foil on the bottom half, and handed my husband his lunch. Then I dug into my burrito, which immediately started to fall apart. I was about four bites in when Mikey piped up from the back.

“I have to go potty.”

My husband cursed, and I spilled some beans onto my lap. “How bad do you have to go?” I asked at the same time Mike chided, “Why didn’t you go when we stopped?!”

“I have to go badly!”

We were on Route 81 headed south right where it turns off to Route 86, and four lanes branch off into two directions. We were all the way to the left, to take Route 86, and now Mike was trying to cross four lanes of traffic to get to the nearest exit – or even just the side of the road.

“Hold this!” He shoved the stacker at me, and I dropped my burrito on my lap and grab his lunch.

Mike made it to the far right side of the highway, but it looked like another mile or so before the next exit. “Can you hold it, buddy?” he asked the child.

“No, I have to go bad!”

“OK, I’m going to pull over.”

However, I saw a green sign up ahead. “No, wait, it looks like there’s an exit coming up.”

Mike passed a vehicle and sped up to get to the next exit, while I continued to hold his stacker and squint to see the sign up ahead. Aha! It was definitely an exit.

Mike took the off-ramp and just pulled right off the side of the road, planning to let the child relieve himself in nature. He ran around the side of the truck and opened the back passenger-side door and a bunch of stuff fell out.

“Come on, Mikey. Quick!”

Mikey just kept staring at the tablet.

“Mikey!” I yelled. “I thought you had to go badly!”

“Let me just finish this one part,” he said, engrossed in the moving playing on the tablet.

“Are you kidding me?!” Mike fumed, standing on the side of the road in knee-length grass as cars drove by.

I was still holding the stacker.

Finally Mikey paused the movie, unbuckled and climbed over all the junk in the car, and I heard Mike’s exasperated voice behind me: “Where are your shoes?”

Before Mikey could answer, my husband grumbled, “Never mind. Just go here.”

And then our 6-year-old was standing at the open door of the truck just peeing into the wind as transients went whizzing by (pun intended).

Once the deed was done, the child climbed back into his seat and buckled up, then continued to live his best life of feasting on a Happy Meal and watching “Minions,” sans shoes, from his little thrown.

Mike climbed back in the driver’s seat, and I tried to hold in my laughter as I handed him back his lunch.

“Don’t you even start,” he said to me, trying to hold in a laugh of his own.

I wouldn’t dream of it.

What I am dreaming of, however, is a vacation from our vacation.

Holly Crocco is editor of the Putnam County Times/Press and mother of a 6-year-old. She can be reached at


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