Have you ever been one of those kids sandwiched in the back seat of a car for hours and hours during a trip heralded as a great family bonding experience?
Or maybe you were the rotten child who would hover your finger next to the ear of your sibling chanting the words, “I’m not touching you.” The infamous bearer of wet-willies who was destined for upper-level management…
Our family loves to travel, but our three boys have finally grown tall enough that all we can see in the rear- view mirror is a tangle of arms and legs. We didn’t need anything bigger than our F-150 for daily use, but those long trips were begging for something more spacious. And since our children seem bent on ignoring our demands to stop growing, my brilliant husband came up with an idea.
A conversion van.
We found the best deal in New Orleans and took a one-way flight there one weekend while the kids were away. We drove the whale-on-wheels back and surprised the kids by picking them up from Nana and Papa’s house in their new van.
Ian’s first words?
“It’s the Mystery Machine!” 
The boys went crazy. They didn’t even care that there wasn’t a T.V. in the car. There was no fussing about which seat would hold who- everyone had their perfect spot. Strangely, the smallest, quietest child chose the seat farthest in the back. The problem?
We can’t hear him.
Every once in a while I look back and see his lips moving, but no sound reaches me through the sound vacuum (a.k.a. older brother Sam). Ian adores his perch at the back of the action where he can keep an eye on everyone. So rather than destroy the happy smile on his face- yours truly came up with a plan.
A walkie-talkie.
Now when the little radio crackles to life beside me and a small voice says, “Momma, I have to go potty,” I can harness my inner trucker as I respond, “Roger little buddy.”

The Mystery Machine