Before a car trip to California to see our grandparents, Mom used to take us to Toys 'R' Us and instructed us to pick out something that would keep us busy in the car for 12 hours a day for two days.
Our choices were, shall we say, limited.
They were, as far as I can remember:
1. An Etch-A-Sketch
2. A Mad Libs book.
3. Another riddle book where you'd run a magic highlighter over the phrase and it would give you the answer, presumably after you'd give it the kind of thought you'd give the million-dollar question on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire with your only lifeline being a phone call to that dorky girl in high school who always had carmel corn in her braces but would let you copy her chemistry homework.
4. A game where you'd push a button that would make a colored piece of plastic floating in water land in a basket.
5. Dozens of books like "Charlotte's Web," "The Great Brain" or one of Stephen King's early offerings (I read him at a pretty young age, which explains a few things).
Or there was the alphabet game, the license plate game or 20 questions.
Eventually, the games deteroriated into "Will you stop touching me", "Stay on your side" and "Punch the brother in the arm."
Today, on our car trip across Colorado to Kansas and home, where I'll spend my next week or so playing a bit of poker (report to come later), spending time with Mom and Dad (in separate houses, alas), seeing old friends, enjoying a night or two out away from the kids with Kate and wolfing down as much barbecue as I possibly can, we had more entertainment in the car than I had in the house when I was their age.
We have a built-in DVD that plays a constant stream of "The Backyardigins." They do not have a Game Boy but probably will soon. I had my laptop, which played Season 4 of 'The Wire.' (And this show really is fantastic, if you haven't seen it you must right now. Seriously, stop wrapping last-minute presents and watch it. Your family will understand).
In the end, it wasn't enough, and the twins went into nuclear meltdown in the last half hour. They're still only 19 months, and Pablo and a Moose who only wears a sweater but no pants can only take you so far. Even Jayden seemed to wear down after the 7th hour, asking Kate, "Mom, can you go faster?"
On a side note, don't you wonder what Mary and Joseph did with baby Jesus on those long trips on the donkey? Or did Jesus just wave his hand and they were there? Did you ever wonder what Jesus was like as a baby? Was he fussy? You would think the son of God would be a good baby. Or maybe God was testing Mary, like he did Job, and made Jesus get up at all hours all the time.
Anyway, I have to admit, I was a bit jealous of my kids. I wish we had that entertainment. Those hours just seemed to drag on.
Then again, I don't think I'm as jealous as my parents, who admit that they wished like hell they had something to shut us up.