“When will we get there?”
That's the teenage equivalent of the much maligned toddlerism, “Are we there yet?”
Asked a single time, a parent's answer usually rolls off the tongue with an automatic nonchalance if not genuine excitement.
However, when uttered more than a handful of times over the course of an hour in the cramped confines of the family car after one flight cancellation and a frenetic, still-in-process attempt to navigate to an alternate airport via an unfamiliar road -- in the FREEZING RAIN -- not to mention the pressure of delayed arrivals and the added expense of an overnight stay, my final answer took on a life of its own.
“That iPhone in your hands – the one you haven't released from a death grip since Christmas morning – has other features besides SNAPCHAT! Google Maps for instance."
Strange how a person can so keenly hear hurt feelings amid an otherwise stoney silence.
I will admit I might have handled that better.
Although I won't use as an example what has become known as "The Great ChexMix Meltdown of 2015," during which countless choice words took flight over the noise level surrounding ardently chosen travel snacks. Suffice it to say: if no one wanted the cereal bits, why for the loveofpete didn't we just buy bags of pretzels?
Next time, I vowed, everyone would eat before we left the house. And they would LIKE it. If they had to tote sustenance, they would have the choice of one of the silent fruits or maybe a chewy granola bar that had been previously unwrapped of its noisy cellophane, which would then have been properly disposed of in the correct receptacle -- not the front pocket of my purse. And they would LIKE it. Or they would starve.
As if THAT would ever happen.
The horror! Of course they would starve. No child in the history of modern travel has ever gone a mile beyond their immediate neighborhood before asking when they can expect an arrival, or requiring a handful of fish-shaped crackers and the affirmation that a beverage is available lest they spontaneously dehydrate.
Probably shouldn't admit that I've told my kids the heavily trafficked roads to our destination are traditionally paved with the dust of those poor parched children whose parents didn't plan ahead.
It's of little consequence, though. My kids are as fluent in sarcasm as they are in English. And since they have come to know me so well over the past decade, they have also begun packing their own provisions.
Sure, the boy will ask me for a candy bar using the magic words as we pass by the airport newsstand, but I know he will conjure a sleeve of saltines from his own carry-on at the gate's waiting area if my response disappoints.
See? I know a little magic, too. Paradoxically, all it requires is less effort.
So when my daughter asks for the twelfth time when we can expect to arrive, I will just shrug my shoulders and suggest she ask the flight attendant.
At least until we get to turn off airplane mode.