The Game

While driving with kids you might find yourself desperately trying to settle them, and despite your best efforts you will fail, this is an odds on certainty. Kids tend to thrive in open spaces far away from their siblings and restraints, they love to run and wrestle, destroy things and make a mess. Never good in the back seat of the family sedan.

I remember, many years ago, a 4 year period where we had only one child, and by proxy only one child in the car at any one time. The worst thing that could possibly happen in this case was she’d either be hungry or tired; or worse, both simultaneously.

Zip forwards several years, stick two more car seats in the back, fill ’em with kids, cold sticky drinks to spill everywhere, a pile of rubbish on the floor, and voices that can smash the front windscreen.

Now we have three terrors sitting side by side, within arms reach of each other, within legs reach of our seat backs, and constantly within seconds of loosing their minds.

What to do?

Games can sometimes work and distract them, but if they’re like my three it’s a very temporary solution; the game gets old quickly, its too complicated, only one person wins leaving at least 2 losers, or someone just starts pinching and screaming.

Music is much the same; each wants something on but rarely knows what, while we sit in the front slowly being driven nuts by the Wiggles, or modern pop (shudder [its no secret that I’m stuck living in the 70’s, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, and David Bowie]).

It was at a desperate intersection like this that my oldest daughter, Charlie, proposed a game, she’d created, called “Spoto!”. Simple in name and nature it’s become a favourite distraction that’s fluid enough to not become too contentious. 

Put simply whenever you see a yellow car (not a: truck, van, or parked car) you yell “Spoto!”

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It’s simplicity is the key; yellow cars are infrequent enough that you’re not being bombarded endlessly with “Spoto!”, and rarely do they see the same car at the same time, meaning thats it’s hardly debatable.

What I find also is that it breaks some of the common cycles that occur in the car, by simply calling out “Spoto!” It breaks their concentration, and forces them to look around. One minute their building to a fight crescendo, with sharp nails and gritted teeth, next their heads are spinning in a effort to check dad wasn’t lying.

Naturally this doesn’t last long, like all games it has a half-life of about 15 minutes or less, but as a distraction its good for short trips and round the block type walks.

I’m not ashamed to say that while driving by myself I sometimes find I’m pointing and yelling “Spoto!” to no one in particular.

Raymond

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