Preparing for a vacation is harder than it looks

As my wife and I plan for our summer family vacation, it’s time for me to do my part by saying things no one’s going to pay attention to.

In all honesty, when I say, “my wife and I plan,” I really mean she says smart things and I nod a lot. This behavior is, I have found, typical of many males and can be traced back to prehistoric times when men were too stupid to know when the cave was out of food. We haven’t grown much since.

Part of planning includes packing, which my wife does because I apparently don’t do it right. She packs so far ahead of the trip there’s always a danger our children will outgrow the clothing she put in their bags. My method of packing usually involves backing to the end of the drive, then saying in a mystified voice, “I don’t remember putting suitcases in the car.”

That’s why I’m in charge of directions (although she will keep asking if I know where I’m going, followed by an arm-crossed, “Mmm-hmm,” when I tell her I do), car snacks and, of course, most of the driving.

I’m not entirely sure when men inherited the roll as designated driver on family trips. It’s not like it’s a male-dominated activity, like playing video games and peeing outside.

I suspect men behind the wheel goes back to the first father who lost a driving debate when his wife used the words, “OK, then you entertain the kids.”

Fine. Whatever. I’ll drive. But if I’m driving, there are some strict rules everyone in the car must adhere to or I’m turning it right around.

Dad’s driving rules: This is my car. If you don’t like what I’m about to tell you, please drive your own car. Oh? Your car is only 10 inches long and made of Legos? Then pay attention.

1. No yelling.

2. No whining.

3. No asking to change the radio station if there’s a game on.

4. No asking to change the radio station if there’s not a game on. Pretend the car doesn’t have a radio and the sounds you’re hearing are because of some undiagnosed mental issue.

5. No, I will not use the rear view mirror to see if Child 1 has violated the Back Seat Neutral Zone of Child 2 because I’m driving at Warp 7 and secretly value all our lives.

6. No, I don’t want to hear “99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall” again because Rule 1 includes me.

Dad’s hotel rules: Your Mom and I are paying for this, so listen up.

1. Don’t break anything.

2. Don’t even look at the telephone.

3. There are other people in this hotel trying to sleep. Some of them may be serial killers. Be quiet.

4. There’s a big Gideon Bible in the top drawer of the nightstand. It has two uses. One is to read. The other involves your buttocks. Make the right choice.

Dad’s driving home rule: There is only one rule. We’re driving home. Period. We’re not taking a scenic detour, we’re not visiting Graceland (because, darn it, we should have done that on the way down) and we’re not pulling in anywhere to use the restroom; you should have gone before we started.

And I don’t care if you just saw a billboard for the Biggest Plantar Wart in North Carolina; I’m not stopping.

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