Time spent driving a car with the boys in the backseat has a scientific measurement similar to the one meteorologists use to measure windchill factor. You know windchill factor, the reality that wind makes the actual air temperature feel much colder when it drives against your skin. Well, I'm hear to tell you that two boys in the backseat of a car makes time feel like it's crawling ahead much slower than the clock says it is. Here are the actual measurements:
The Backseat Factor Chart
You might be asking when I became interested in measuring the impact children have on drive-time. My answer is since I spent 5 hours in the car with the boys yesterday, followed by nightmares last night in which we were evicted from our home and forced to live on a vehicle parked on I-95 with the boys in the backseat. Forever. I can't advocate loud enough that every potential parent should have to borrow someone's children and take them on a road trip of a duration that shall not be less than 2 hours. I would like to sneak into that particular legislation a requirement the borrowed children come from me.
If I'm making it sound like yesterday's journey was a miserable experience - at least the time spent in the car - then I'm a great writer. But even out of a long drive like yesterday's, entertaining stories often emerge. Maybe it's because they arrive as small nuggets of joy at the exact moment joy seems to face extinction.
Yesterday's nugget came in the middle of one of Elliott and Ian's backseat spats. Ian had reached his boiling point when he did what a young boy does when a conflict with his older brother pins his back against the wall. He threatened to quit being Elliott's brother.
It wasn't the first time Ian has used this move. In the past, though, Elliott has quietly dispatched Ian's threat to planet absurdity. But yesterday, Elliott seemed suddenly compelled to bury Ian's threat forever.
After Ian made his threat, Elliott said, "Ian, you do know you can't just quit being someone's brother, right?"
"Yes I can," Ian answered.
"No Ian, we're related. That means no matter what we will always be brothers."
"No we won't, because I don't want to be your brother anymore," persisted Ian.
"Ian, I don't think you understand what related means. It means we were born related. You could move to another state and we would still be related." Elliott explained this with surprising calm and confidence, almost like he was now representing the family against Ian's demand for emancipation.
"What if I moved to Texas," Ian asked, failing to recognize that Texas was included in the example Elliott had just given him. Or maybe Ian missed the news that Texas has not yet succeeded from the Union.
"Yes, Ian, even if you move to Texas, we will still be brothers," Elliott responded.
One of the day's few moments of silence found the backseat - a likely indicator that Ian was processing Elliott's words and motives. After several long seconds, Ian asked, "Mom, are there houses in Texas?"
I don't know if Ian has his sights set on Texas. I know he is still with us today, and he seems pretty content being Elliott's brother again. If he does indeed move, though, I'll find consolation in knowing there will only be one brother in the backseat when we go visit, which will reduce the "backseat factor" significantly.