Sunday, February 21, 2010

If You Drive a Yellow Car With One Headlight All Your Cows Will Die

Like most moms I know, I spend a crazy amount of time in my car, driving kids here there and everywhere. Seriously, I spend so much time in there that the leather driver’s seat has molded into the perfect shape of my butt and when Joe drives the car on the weekends it actually makes him uncomfortable. He thinks he has some kind of pinched nerve in his lower back but I know the truth: incompatible cheek prints.

Anyway, because we’re on the road so much the family Durango has become the epicenter for interesting conversation in our family and sometimes a roomier, mobile confession booth (with windows!) Depending on the topic, sometimes it’s easier to speak to each other through the buffer of the rear-view mirror. I’ve had some of my best talks with the boys while enroute to various places.

But with everything in our family, just when you’re about to sigh and say “awwww…” something happens to make you say “ewwww” instead. (Such as – why does the car always smell like French fries and farts?) But when it comes to the car more likely than not it’s me saying “ugggh” as I referee one of the countless family car games.

Since we don’t have a DVD player in the Durango, we’ve passed a lot of time on the road by playing games. Most of them are games lots of families play – like the license plate game or the alphabet game. (The alphabet game is one of our favorites for long trips, but we have to play as a group since Joe would win every single time if we played individually. He’s annoying like that.)

Personally, my favorite car game is one I like to call, "Let's see how many miles we can drive in complete silence." Strangely, this is not a favorite of our kids. Instead they usually play one of the following games they've deemed more entertaining.


This is a holdover from my own childhood and it’s pretty basic. If you see a car coming toward you with only one headline, you smack the ceiling of the car and yell “padiddle!”

When I was a kid that’s all there was to it – you got the satisfaction of being the first one to see the one-headlight car. We’ve now cranked it up a notch. Once the first person spies the car and yells “padiddle!” everyone else races to also hit the ceiling and yell. The last padiddler is awarded a heaping helping of shame, ala “last one there’s a rotten egg”. Because we’re all about the negative reinforcement in our family. :o)

Interesting note: On a whim, I googled this game and found that a popular variation calls for all other players other than the one who called "padiddle" to remove an article of clothing. For obvious reasons this will NOT be written into our family's game rules. I have a hard enough time keeping clothes on the boys.

Dead Cow

I came across this game via an exhaustive Internet search before a long car trip, being completely sick of the license plate and alphabet games and knowing that Padiddle would be out since most of the trip would be during the day.

Another simple concept – the driver and those sitting behind him on his side of the car are one team, competing against those on the other side of the car. If you see a cow on your side of the road, it is added to your team’s herd. This is especially awesome when a large dairy farm springs up on your side of the road (sub-rule: only the cows you have time to count as you drive by are added to your total).

But beware of roadside cemeteries on your side of the vehicle! If you drive by tombstones, all of your cows die and you start over at zero. This is assuming the other team saw the cemetery. If they miss it, you are well within your rights to keep your mouth shut. Dark and a little inappropriate? Probably. But also very fun and incredibly competitive.

There is a cemetery on the drivers’ side between the expressway off-ramp and our house and if Joe’s driving the last leg of a trip and has a decent number of cows racked up, he will come up with insane routes to get home just so he can avoid total herd destruction.

It should also be said that Joe is a big fat cheater.

Yellow Car

This is a fairly new game to our family but also has the distinction of being the most cutthroat and controversial. The concept is deceptively easy: you get one point for every yellow car you see. But our boys are so insanely competitive that they will do anything – up to and including coming up with ridiculous rules – to keep their brothers from racking up points. Such as:

“That doesn’t count because the car wasn’t turned on yet.”

“The neighbor’s car doesn’t count because we drive by it every day.”

“I know that’s the same car I called last Tuesday so it doesn’t count now.

“Dad turned off the car so now we all start again at zero.”

On and on and on and on. I have called an end to rounds of Yellow Car more than any other game our family plays, knowing if I didn’t there would be certain and profuse blood loss. And who wants to scrub that out of car carpet? I’m still trying to get rid of that “French fries and farts” stench.

So those are our games. What does your family do in the car to pass the time? Please share because by all means we need something more to fight about.


Unknown Mami said...

We read Renaissance poetry and memorize the verses. The first person to learn an entire poem and recite it verbatim, gets to pick the next poem.

You know I'm kidding, right?

Unknown Mami said...

I linked to this post today too.

coleemmett said...

Mommy is filing away all of these for when I am older... Her family used to play "Ghost" - each player adds a letter until someone is trpped into making a word. (If your letter completes the word you get a G. If it happens again, H... the first player to spell "GHOST" is out - last player standing wins.) 3 letter words didn't count in their car... The big thing is you have to add a letter that you know does make a longer word otherwise the player after you can challenge you - if you don't have a word you get a G or H or whatever. Did that make sense?

Suzanne Westover said...

I love the dead cow game. I am beginning to think we were deprived growing up. The only game we had in the 4.5 hour drive to the lake was "Lift your feet over the train tracks." Since there was only one set of tracks, it was an awful LONG drive!

JenJen said...

That is awesome! I love the dead cow game!

We used to scream at cows. Not nearlt as cool, but the point was to see how many cows looked up at you while you drove by. You just needed to drive by all fast-like and scream, "HEY COW!"

Fairly retarded, but rewarding when they looked up.

Yankee Girl said...

Love those games. My husband and I are taking a road trip this summer and we get tired of playing the state capital game. We will definitely be giving these a try!

Suzanne Westover said...

Cyndi. A Beautiful Blogger Award awaits you on my site. It's in honour of the fact that I cannot raise a houseplant, and you have managed to shelter four children. And blog. And be funny. Kudos!


Elizabeth Patch said...

thanks for stopping by my blog and helping make my SITS day so wonderful! you have double the boys that I raised, so I am in admiration of how hard you must be working.


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