Driving with a whiny baby must be the third circle of Hell

I consider myself to be far more tolerant of the full range of emotions in children than most dads and can handle unhappy kids, angry kids, and even depressed kids with the best of them, but when we decided to play hooky today and go to the Denver Aquarium, I had no idea that I was going to be transported directly to the third circle of Hell within minutes of leaving our house!

Our plan: lunch at the Old Spaghetti Factory in downtown Denver, a favorite with all of us for its inexpensive meals and yummy spumoni dessert included with everything, then a short 2mi hop to the Aquarium and a chance to see all the cool fish, turtles, sharks, sidestep the flash flood area and even enjoy the tigers. Sounds fun, right?

Our 2yo K- has been having a tough couple of days anyway, and this morning wasn’t particularly relaxing as her crying and whining got on everyone’s nerves and her running around the house naked and insisting that she would not get dressed caused us to leave at least an hour later than we’d hoped.

But still. She’s our third two year old and maybe I have that valuable parenting skill of blocking out the bad memories but I just don’t recall our older ones being quite this manic, though I’m sure that they were.

The drive to Denver from Boulder, theoretically about 45 minutes, took us almost two hours as we stopped more than once to allow Linda to solace K- so as to avoid her completely melting down and hyperventilating into unconsciousness. (those of you who aren’t parents will assuming that I’m exaggerating in that last bit. Trust me, I’m not. It’s quite something to see with a really, really upset baby)

While we were driving and trying all our tricks to avoid going completely insane from the incessant crying and whining, it hit me: Danté was wrong with his map of the various circles of Hell in his wonderful poem The Divine Comedy, because nowhere on the map was a highway where you’re trapped in the car, day after day, year after year, with an inconsolable baby.
Man, oh man, was I glad to finally get to the restaurant!

Not that the rest of the day was vastly easier, but at least we had something to do, lots to see, and even some cool animals to touch and enjoy.

Until.

The.

Drive.

Home.

Let’s just leave it at that tonight, shall we? 🙂

16 comments on “Driving with a whiny baby must be the third circle of Hell

  1. I’ve been there and I feel your pain. I’ve been known to, during extreme howling, breast feed the baby while she’s still in the car-seat. I just keep telling my husband “Don’t pull up next to that trucker!â€? I know it’s dangerous but at the time my seatbelt seems so much less important that stopping the crying. How’s that for being crazy from the tears, to put one’s self in danger like that and the whole time all I can think is “Thank god our windows are a little tinted.â€?

  2. Oh, the memories…My daughter had a 10 mile limit before the shrieking began. And continued until we got there….however far “there” was, except for when I was nursing her. I too spent more time off-road than on-road in the rear seat nursing, being glad for tinted windows, and wondering who invented the urban legend that car trips are soothing for little ones.

  3. Oh, how that brings me back to the “days” when our oldest was much the same way. The only thing that helped was singing. Any unfortunate people riding in the car with us where usually stupified when one or the other of us (or both if it was really bad) would suddenly break out into “Puff the Magic Dragon” in order to calm the baby. Usually it worked. And only Puff would do – nothing else. Stop singing, start crying. Start singing, stop crying. I’m sure our non-parent friends were appalled that we would actually stop having an adult conversation in order to soothe our child. I actually remember some telling us we were spoiling our child, giving in to his tantrum, etc. Really! A 5-month old having a tantrum. It got better as he got older, but there were those times when he just lost it as a toddler and singing would once again soothe the troubled – i’ve got to say it – beast. Bonus to me was spending time singing with my husband who has a lovely tenor voice, perfect pitch, and infinite patience with his somewhat tone-challenged wife.
    So, here’s to children in car seats, taking time to see every roadside marker on the way so you can all take a break, singing loudly, and eventual blessed silence.

  4. I’m sure the people at the restaurant were thrilled when you arrived, too. Exactly what do you think it benefited your utterly undisciplined 2-y-o to take this trip in the first place? Obviously, the trip was about what YOU wanted, not what the child wanted or what was best for her. Better for you to have spent the time teaching her about acceptable behavior and consequences for disobeying the rules (or perhaps in your case, establishing rules for the first time). Children need rules, they need structure, they need to feel secure – and with a mommy and daddy who just indulge them and are totally clueless about leadership and genuine parenting, your kid is bound to grow up to be yet another neurotic, entitlement crazed burdern on society who will never establish mature, lasting relationships or achieve anything of worth or significance.

  5. Interesting comment, “My Name”, because you assume that how a child behaves when strapped into a carseat is identical to how they behave in a public place like a restaurant. In fact, our children are always well behaved in restaurants and other public places or we promptly walk out and go home.
    But I’m guessing you don’t have kids, based on the zeal of your comment and your lack of knowledge about child behavior. That’s cool, but you might want to *ask* about how little ones behave instead of automatically assuming that a baby who is unhappy in a car must therefore also be unhappy in a restaurant.
    And as to who my children will become when they grow up, well, let’s just say that I’m not worried about it one iota.

  6. I had an interesting experience last year. I couch surfed for two and a half months at the house a friend who is the single father of twin 14 year old girls. So I kinda sorta had instant teenage kids, or at least nieces, for a while… at least in terms of the “having to drive someone all over the place” thing. If you had told me I could get woken up at insanely early hours to drive across town to pick a kid up from their friend’s place for the basketball practice they forgot to tell me about the night before, then be told when i got there I needed to be back in 2 hours to take them home, and would love every minute of it, I never would have believed you.
    There was one car moment I had a problem with, though.
    If you have never driven down the a busy street with a car full of six 14 year old girls all screaming along with the song “My Humps” (http://www.lyricstime.com/black-eyed-peas-my-humps-lyrics.html) at the top of their lungs… you have missed out on a truly special brand of embarrassment.

  7. Oh thank-you. I have my third child now, who wasn’t even born when you made the original posting. I do not recall either of my other children taking such a violent dislike to the carseat. She starts out with a whimper, works up to anguished howling, and we haven’t found a car trip too short that she can’t scream all the way there and back. Ten minutes to pre-school feels like eternity.Haven’t figured out to drive and nurse simultaneously (!), but I do know it’s NOT the case of baby having a tantrum.She usually stops immediately I lift her out, often accompanied by gaseous emmisions, top end or bottom. I can only conclude the poor thing is in agony from trapped air, bent in half from the seat.

  8. I can’t believe the post by “My Name” who was obviously not confident enough in their statement to put a real name… Why are they even posting on an AP site with sentiments like that? I feel for the folks who have children who don’t enjoy car travel. My child is the same way and it is only slightly easier on airplanes, but it has nothing to do with discipline. Some 2 and three year olds just need to move.

  9. My son was the same way until he was about seventeen months old. At that point, I turned the car seat around, desperate to find something that would stop the screaming, and it worked!! I now have a son who just points and jabbers constantly about whatever he sees: “Cell phone tower!” “Fire truck!” “Bulldozer!” etc.

  10. Suzy, how old is your daughter.? We have a 3 month old and she does amazingly well in the car, even on longer trips with few stops!!!

  11. Help Please! My husband and I recently moved from a small town to a big city and have a three month old son. I’m a stay at home mom and there are times when I need to run to the store, but my child seems not enjoy the car rides any longer. We are maybe 5 minutes into the trip when he starts to cry I mean CRY! I used to pull over into a gas station in my old town but now being in a bigger city and with a high crime rate I’m scared to pull over….I feel like a prisoner in my own home I’m scared to go anywhere in fear that my son will cry. My question is do I let him cry or do I simply stay at home until he grows out of it? If that’s possible. Marissa

  12. I am the mother of 3 boys ages 15 yrs, 5 yrs, and 9 months. The first two had no major problems with car rides and even seemed to enjoy them. My third son is just the opposite. He screams non stop while riding maybe 15 minutes or so. He doesn’t always start with the initial strapping in. He sometimes gets strapped in and doesnt cry for the first 5 minutes or so. Then as if it just hit him that he is strapped down, he lets out an ear piercing cry. Sometimes singing soothes and quiets him; other times, nothing seems to console him until I stop and get him out. When my husband drives, I sit in the back and nurse him (while I am strapped around my waist-which was a trick I had to maneuver because once leaning over his carseat trying to nurse while strapped down caused me to pull a muscle in my lower back that left me sore for days).
    I am desperate for suggestions on how to soothe him while I am driving. My nerves are shot by the time I get to my destination.
    Help….

  13. omg! i am a new mom to a 5-week old boy, and we had our first fit of highway hysterics today. when i pulled off at the rest area and got into the backseat to calm him, the sight of the tears in his eyes nearly sent me into fits myself. your story made me laugh, and also gave me some comfort. thanks for sharing!

  14. Wow, my girl is almost 7 months now, and is finally Ok in the carseat…sometimes. For at least the first 5 mos, she would scream, and I mean hysterically, until I would pull over,or if her daddy was driving, I would get in the back and nurse…safety be damned, just make her stop crying!! Thanks to tinted windows!! My problem now is sleep…she wakes up every two hours, if not more,sometimes wanting to play for hours…of course, we don’t play, butI think I may lose it some nights, I can’t let her cry of course, but I’m at wits end here…any suggestions for getting my BF girl to sleep longer stretches?? She is not one these “lay her down when she’s sleepy, and she’ll fall asleep on her own girls” She NEEDS me!! I call her my high maintenance daughter(A Dr. Sears term) But seriously, I’m fed up, and I need sleep! Can anyone help???

  15. Lara, I have the same problem with my 5-month-old. He’s just now getting better at short car rides–I think its because he can see more things outside now. But he’s still up every 1 1/2-2 hours throughout the night and just the past couple of days he’s added incessant whining throughtout the day and even when he’s sleeping. We had tried putting him to sleep in his crib at night, but after a month of no sleep, I was about to crack, so we brought him to bed with us so its easier to nurse him–I know, its terrible, but we’re getting some sleep now–at least we were until the whining started. If its not the whining, its an ear-piercing shriek in the middle of the night! And we have a teenager who has to be up @ 5 am to get ready for zero hour classes, so letting him cry it out is not an option at our house either. I’d almost forgotten how much fun babies can be at night! (of course, I wouldn’t trade my whiny, cranky, sleep-deprivation-inducing son for anything because he is also very sweet and has the most darling laugh, but I’d sure like 3-4 hours of uninterrupted sleep!)

  16. Having been brought up in the 1950s, when we had that special migration in a car which lasted 4 days, and my brother and I age 6 and 4 respectively, there was no whining, crying, shrieking etc. because in those days the family was a close unit. I have noticed with disdain that the family today is broken, the child is often partnered with a television set, and becomes a little scientist, able to experiment on his parents quite successfully to get what he wants when he wants it. The most successful method is shrieking, though pouting is a fairly good choice, and holding one’s breath has lost its appeal, as the bluff is hard to maintain. For any child to become the lead player in a 10-minute drive suggests that the phrase “parenting skills” be whispered as it is too ludicrous for a reaction. You need to re-evaluate who is in charge – the parent or the child? You have done everything you can to entertain little Billie/little Janie, but what have you done to have the child become part of the family team? Not much it seems. Sorry to be so critical, but your hell has just begun.

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