The Packining

By Mir
August 19, 2004

Packining is what happens when you simultaneously pack and panic.

Packining is what happens whenever I try to pack for a trip, but particularly when I am trying to pack for a trip that is supposed to start tomorrow morning and I haven’t done the laundry yet and I have one additional child here at Chaos Central and despite my proliferation of lists I remain convinced that I am going to forget to pack something absolutely crucial, like children’s vitamins, and then my children will die because I’m a negligent mother.

Guess what’s happening right now! Go on! Guess!

The idea is, the kids and I will head out first thing tomorrow morning in our traditional style of Embarking On The Trip To Grandma and Grandpa’s House. We have a set routine for this. We get up in the morning and pile into the car, whereupon the small ones start screaming for a video before we’ve even pulled out of the driveway. I churn out one Logical Motherly Reason after another about why we should wait to start the VCR until we’re on the highway. In the meantime, we stop at Dunkin Donuts to get me a coffee of sufficient size to ensure that I will need to make a bathroom stop before we even get out of the state. We also get adequate donut and chocolate milk supplies to make sure that the only thing keeping the children from crashing against the roof of the car is their seatbelts and the various blankets, pillows, and eleventy billion stuffed animals and books tucked in around them.

(Videos! Crap! I haven’t been to the movie store yet!)

The drive is about six and a half hours. Since the addition of the portable VCR to our artillery, the journey is quite bearable. I arrive at my parents’ all stiff and glazed over, but the children have had a marvelous trip and tumble out of the car thrilled to see their grandparents, or, maybe, crying about me turning the movie off. Rather than pay much attention to this, I generally toss out a couple of quick kisses and hugs and then stumble my way into the bathroom to stretch my legs and pee out the last of my coffee.

But before we can do that, I need to pack everything that three high-maintenance humans might require in the wilderness of a house and town much more civilized than our own. Huh. Now that I’ve said that I feel a little silly. But the packining! It does things to my brain, I tell you!

Just for example: we are going to an honest-to-goodness theatre show while we’re there. I am really more excited than I ought to be. But… what to wear? And you understand, I’m not talking about me. I’m talking about the kids. I’m going to be out in public in my hometown, and we may run into people who used to pick on me in junior high. So it is of the utmost importance that my children look as though they just stepped out of an ad for the Gap. Because that’ll show those bitches! Yeah! After all, it’s too late to change myself, but as long as I’m saving money for the kids’ therapy, I may as well utilize them to the fullest extent of dysfunctional pride.

Also: I have to be careful about what I choose to wear around my mother. The last time we were there? There was a long and somewhat confusing exchange about my eyebrows, ending with her assuring me that I was lovely and also telling me I should probably get them professionally shaped rather than doing it on my own. Um, huh? And that was tame. So I need to pick my clothes carefully, you see.

And just because my parents have a washer and dryer doesn’t mean I can avoid packing all kinds of extras, because you just never know with kids. I mean, really. The one trip I don’t pack extras will be the one with projectile puking and state-wide blackout conditions. It’s best to be prepared.

Don’t even get me started on what would happen if I neglected to include one of the many Cherished Objects Without Which The Children Cannot Survive. That class of items is doubly fun because they cannot be packed in advance. I have to scurry around finding them all right before we leave. Good times.

Well, I’d love to chat some more, but I have to get back to running around the house like a chicken with its head cut off. Did I mention that I am also having my first ever cavities filled this afternoon? That was a tour de force of scheduling on my part, don’t you think? Then again, I’ve never experienced packining while drooling, and that may add a whole new dimension to things. Or just make everything a little damp. I’ll let you know.


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