Distracting your kids in closed quarters

Filed under: Just For Moms, Toddlers Preschoolers, Development/Milestones: Babies

Yesterday I had to pick Nolan up in a small town about forty five minutes outside my city. The drive there was a breeze, I cranked up the old-lady talk shows I'm partial to these days and careened with excitement toward the gap-toothed smile of my little one.

About halfway there, though, I noticed something sinister on the other side of the highway: a lineup of cars, stretched endlessly in bleary sunlight, lined up before the bridge and beyond. Uh-oh, I thought, I hope that's a temporary jam.

I live in a city of ocean and bridges and two lane highways and when there's a traffic jam, you're usually going to be stuck for hours. I don't mind sitting idly if I have an US magazine and a peach iced tea, but when you throw a toddler into the equation, it can go south fast.

I picked up Nolan at 3:30. He'd been in a car already for nearly four hours.
"I'na rock!" he exclaimed as I belted him in and poured him a sippy,"I'na rock!"
"You can walk in just a little bit." The beads were already pouring down my forehead,"But first we're going to count the trucks!"

I was inclined to stop at a park, but I couldn't find one, and so desperately I merged into traffic, which was not a merge but an elderly crawl which took me twenty five minutes going three kilometers an hour. We played "Spot the Truck." We played "Look at those diggers." I made up stories about cranes and dirt off the top of my head. We sang along to Amy Winehouse and Sparklehorse, the latter wasn't nearly as popular. I distracted with sippies and a muffin and a rousing rendition of Up Came the Spider but I couldn't remember the words and when Nolan wailed "I'na rock" for the seventy thousandth time, I wanted to pound my head into the dashboard. We had been stuck in the same spot for nearly an hour.

I suspect this is one of those "suck it up" moments of parenting, but I still want to know. What do you do to entertain a toddler when confined in a small space for a very long time? I very nearly went insane, and would like to stockpile tips for the next time around.

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.