“Just the two of us, building our castles in the sky…” (try not to picture the Austin Powers version)

For the record, I am NOT against large families. CareerMom comes from a large family (7 kids), my pets come from large families…heck, even most of my parents (yes, you read that right) come from large families.

I, did not. And this is most likely what skews my views.

Despite being mostly an only child growing up, to say I was spoiled would be like saying Richard Simmons is a heterosexual. It just ain’t so.

But I did have my own room, and my own bathroom and generally speaking, I had my space. This is something relatively new here in America I think. If you listen to our parents talk about life growing up, they all slept one on top of the other in a one-room farmhouse and they shared a half-bath and fought over who got to be the first to take a “Shower” using the sun-warmed water in the outside hose. Our kids, on the other hand, are spoiled brats. They have their own rooms, and in many cases, their own bathrooms. They do this and that and they want for nothing.

Not true! (somewhat)

But one child or um…five children, it’s your prerogative right? Heck, if you want to move to Utah and live like the Duggers, that’s fine by me as long as you can afford them and can give them the attention each of them deserve.

This past weekend, I was able to see just how important that “give them the attention each of them deserves” is. I took MLI up to my mom’s house in Tennessee…just we fellers. My mom has a house on the banks of Little River. Where her place is, the river is about 30 yards across and for the most part you can wade out in it and jump from rocks, throw rocks, fish, swim, and get in a kayak without flipping. It’s just about perfect.

I picked him up after Summer Camp on Friday and deposited him in his booster seat in the back of my truck and his eyes lit up when he saw that Daddy has magically installed his Wii. Seeing it, he looked at me and said, “I can play it the whole way to Grammy’s?” Proudly, I said, “Yes you can.”

And he did. The whole 3.5 hours. It was magical. He played the Wii and I drove, enjoying the feel of that big V8 engine under my fingertips. I passed bumpkins, I pointed out cows and I listened to endlessly blissful music on my satellite radio. And there was no whining.

When we got to Grammy’s, we played in the river until it was too cool to stand it and then went in and had dinner. On Saturday we kayak’ed, caught more small-mouth Bass than I’ve ever caught in my whole life, and we generally had a good time…just the two of us.

And I learned something this weekend: Kids are different away from their siblings. There is no competition for toys, time or affection. They “converse” instead of whining and screaming. In short, they are a pleasure to be with and only during these “alone” times, do you really get to see what kind of person your little ones are becoming.

I am cornholio!And this is where my preference for a smaller family comes into play. Already, I’m wondering where I’m going to find the time to do this “x 3” when we have a little girl. I guess it’s just something you have to MAKE time for. CareerMom has a brother who has eight kids and is working on number nine and though he is the consummate family man, I’m sure there are times he wishes he could just grab one and take off like I did for the weekend.

Babies and toddlers are great, but let’s be honest, once the shine wears off, it’s just a lot of work. MLI is five now and I can honestly say that I really enjoy being with him now – with or without the Wii!

If this van’s a rockin…

image There are few childhood things I lament the loss of more than the freedom to move around in the car. I grew up in the 70s when vans were all the rage. And these weren’t the vans like we have today–all captains chairs and entertainment systems–no, these vans had two captain’s chairs up front, perhaps one more row of them in the middle and then usually some kind of open area in the back.

I remember our custom shag-wagon like it was yesterday! It was a Chevy of course, and it was shaped much like the Scooby Doo mobile, except it had a beautiful ocean motif painted on the side. The whole van was done in blues and each side displayed an airbrushed image of a sailboat on a stormy sea. On the inside, there were two rows of captain’s chairs and then in the back was a raised shagging-platform–perfect for extracurricular activities–that was carpeted of course, where we kids used to sit and play games, read books and generally move around during trips. There was also a built-in cooler for drinks, but I remember that it never seemed to work right. As the times marched inexorably on, the vans became more refined–the back area giving away to a third bench row–but the general ability to move around unseen by prying eyes remained. The windows were darkened and had shutters or drapes on them and you could literally walk from the front to the back to grab a drink from the cooler, or just stretch your legs if dad refused to make a pit stop so he could “make up some time.”

What do kids do today on trips? They remain tightly fastened in their little car seats, safely protected from errant drivers and from generally being able to do anything else but stare out the windows and whine about being strapped into their seats. If they drop something…tough doo-doo because they’re so strapped in that they can’t bend over in to the floorboard to pick it up. Want to take a nap? Oh, I’m sorry–you’ll have to just lay your head over to the side and pray that you don’t get a crick in your neck from the odd motion.

Oh I know that car seats save lives and all, but crikey! When you’re doing 70mph (ok, maybe 80) on a lonely bit of highway in the middle of nowhere Georgia or Alabama, is there any harm in letting the little boogers waller around a bit? I say no!

What cracks me up though, is that now vehicles are going to need to get 35 MPG by 2016, which means cars will be what…smaller right? It’s probably a good time to invest in companies that make roof-top carriers for cars! I swear whoever it is running the bunch that develops these safety standards has obviously never taken a long trip with kids!