We spent the two days after Thanksgiving making a pilgrimage to Nashville for a family gathering. That’s ten hours total in the car, which is a lot easier to do with two small children if you only take one of them. We actually took both, but D1 rode in the other car, with Grandma and Grandpa, and D2 rode with us along with a couple of extra uncles. This worked out to the satisfaction of all. D1 had fun talking with Grandma, D2 got plenty of sleep, and we got halfway through the BBC dramatization of Lord of the Rings without having to filter out “Pop Goes the Weasel.”
I will skip over the standard family-gatheringish events of the afternoon and evening ("What was your name again?" "Wow, you sure have grown!" "You are so going to lose this game.") and proceed to the moment when I was trying to settle down to sleep. In a negotiation which we turned out to have taken the wrong side of, DOB and I had bartered with his parents that we would sleep on the floor if they would tend to D2 in the night. As it turned out, D2, in spite of a dreadfully snuffly cold, slept like a log.
It didn't take me more than a few minutes on the first air mattress to discern that the air was leaking out at an alarming rate. By spreading my body out completely flat, I could manage to float a few millimeters above the carpeted cement basement floor. However, since I only had one quilt, this was a chilly option. If I curled up, I went straight through to the bottom and got cold that way. Before too long, even spreading out flat made no difference.
So when DOB at last tore away from his late-night revelry of Uno games, he went back upstairs for a different mattress. Two of his brothers had already claimed the queen-sized mattress, so he returned with two mattresses of sub-twin dimensions. This naturally made huddling together, for warmth or other purposes, impossible, as we would then fall through the crack onto the iceberg below. So we waved goodnight, each grabbed one side of the quilt and tried to make the best of it on our separate mattresses.
Soon my mattress followed the first mattress's example. I tried alternating positions, but could find none that would simultaneously conserve body heat and maintain an air cushion. I then suggested to DOB that we see if we could both fit on his mattress. Now, neither of us is particularly rotund, but the mattress had apparently shrunk to about six inches across by this time. No possible contortion could keep us both on the mattress and still breathing, although we were a lot warmer from the exertion.
Finally we gave it up and took the twin mattresses upstairs, bent on conquest. In our state of chill and sleeplessness, the sight of B3 and B5, sleeping soundly on a plump mattress a few feet from a roaring fire, would have incited war in even the most docile heart. We are not very docile. We immediately persuaded them to take the twin mattresses and scooted back downstairs with our plunder.
This mattress held. We could stay close enough together to stay warm. At last we slept. Of course, by this time it was three in the morning and the children awoke only a couple of hours later, but we were by now grateful for our exchange and dozed on while Grandma found them dry clothes and took them upstairs.
On our way back we wanted to stop at Mammoth Cave, and indeed we did stop, but we didn't have time to take a tour. Instead we went to a little trail off at the edge of the park and managed to fulfill D1's expectation of seeing a cave (she's a devoted fan of Henry the Explorer). We didn't go inside the cave--even if it had not been expressly forbidden, the little tale told on placards of the explorer who had been trapped inside to his death would have been sufficiently deterring--but we did have a lovely walk through the woods, as still as winter and as warm as summer. D2, of course, thinks himself now equal, unassisted, to any task of rock-climbing or spelunking, so he was a bit of a handful. They had the most fun picking up leaves on the boardwalk and throwing them over the edge.
Just before we entered Cincinnati, weary, late for supper, and entirely out of clean clothes, we stopped at a rest stop and discovered that D2 had had one of those diapers, which naturally I had to change single-handed (curse those single-sex restrooms!) and then put him in D1's pink jeans, as it was the only garment left that was even remotely clean.
D2 had his promised night of being unable to sleep horizontally that night. They still both have terrible colds, but I am mixing raw garlic in their scrambled eggs and hoping for progress soon. In spite of it all, it was a good trip and it is better to be home.