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I was having a discussion about in car entertainment the other day.
The talk revolved around CD players, DVD Players, screens attached to or set into head rests and the merits of the Nintendo DS versus the Tablet.
Actually I was standing on the edge of the conversation and hoping no one would notice I was there but in the end one of the Mums turned to me and asked what sort of DVD player I had.

I had to admit that I don’t have a DVD player, a DS, a Tablet or a working CD player.

“What do you do on long journeys when they start getting restless and shouting?” she asked.

I took a deep breath and looked down at my shoes.

Me: I..um…I tell them to be quiet and I keep on driving.

I have to say that this system, while firmly rooted in the 1970s, seems to work in our car.

I am not saying it would work for everyone but I feel the level of in car altercations is about level with other families.
I think because we have never had any of those things the expectation is not there.

And I seldom have to keep the peace or call for quiet.

Sometimes we sing songs, often we listen to the radio but for the most part they sit, quietly in the car.

Occasionally they kick off but I think that happens in any family.

Since the one time I had to pull over and stand them both in a French lay by and hint that I was considering turning the car round and heading back to Cornwall even though, EVEN THOUGH we were about ten minutes from the Grandparents house, the Proles have been remarkably quiet in the car.

I think they really believed me.
I am glad they did not try out my resolve on that one because it was a long drive home.

Any drive above two hours and we generally have to stop but for the most part they sit, in silence, staring out of the window.

Sometimes Prole1 will try to spark up a conversation like he did this evening.

Often, on a busy road,  I will say something like “I am just driving, do you mind if I don’t talk?” and they leave me alone.
When it is quiet though we have a conversation, like tonight.
By conversation I mean a blow by blow account of the Lord Of The Rings, all three books while I make interested noises.
He has not read the books or even seen the films.
He has pieced the story together from the scraps of plot and narrative he has picked up in the playground.

This did not seem to hold him back much.

Prole1: …and then Frodo and Sam head off to the water and Sam nearly drowns but he doesn’t and they go off down a river and I think…no I don’t think…actually I think Merry and Pippin stay at Riverdell with the elves…

Me: Riverdell. Right.

Prole1: …and then Frodo and Sam meet Gollum and he gives them a fish and he pretends to be good but he is actually tricking them because the ring has made him bad and he wants the ring back…

Me: Ok.

Prole1: …so he leads them into the cave of the great big spider Shimmy and Shimmy tries to eat them…

Me: Shimmy?

Prole1: Yes. Shimmy. And Shimmy tries to eat them.

Me: Do you mean Shelob?

Prole1: Oh yes. Shelob.

Me: Isn’t ‘Shimmy’s’ that milk shake shop in Redruth?

Proel1: Oh yes…

Me: What did the giant spider Shimmy try to do? Give them a milk shake with sprinkles?

Prole1: So Shelob tries to eat them and…

Prole2: And give them some Marshmallows?

Prole1: So Shelob tries to eat them and…

Prole2: Ha ha ha Marshmallows ha ha ha….

Prole1: So Shelob tries to eat them and…

Prole2: Ha ha ha Marshmallows ha ha ha…

Prole1: So Shelob tries to eat them and…

Prole2: Ha ha ha Marshmallows ha ha ha….

Prole1: So Shelob tries to eat them and…

Prole2: Ha ha ha Marshmallows ha ha ha…

Prole1: DAD!

Prole2: Ha ha ha Marshmallows ha ha ha ha ha Marshmallows ha ha ha…

Prole2 is incoherent with the giggles and is useless for several minutes.

This is the end of the conversation really as Prole1 is unable to talk while Prole2 is laughing and Prole2 laughed all the way home and had to run to the loo in case he had a ‘laughing wee accident’.

The only time it really back fired on me was a time we were on the way to Exeter.
It was early in the morning, we had just filled up with diesel and pulled out onto the A30.

Prole1 was resting his head against the window and juddering his teeth.
It look a bit weird but I left it. It was Prole1 after all.

Prole2 wriggled in his seat, I glanced at him in the rear view mirror.

Prole2: Dad, last night I heard a voice calling my name and when I opened my eyes there was no one there. My hands were hot but when I reached out I felt a cold hand and I couldn’t see anyone. I thought it was my brother but there was no one there. They said my name again, like that. I let go of their hand and snuggled down under my duvet.

I was not sure what to say.
I looked at him again in the rear view mirror.
He was staring out of the window.

Me: You did not see anyone at all?

Prole2: Actually dad, I am just looking out of the window, can we not talk?

This was my line.
By the rules I had to leave him alone.

Me: Um…ok.

We drove all the way to Exeter without talking.
An hour and a half before he was prepared to answer any questions.
I was going mad with curiosity.

We stopped at Exeter Service Station.

I held his hand as we crossed the road and as we stepped into the service station I had to know.

Me: Hey, remember earlier on when we were talking about the voice you heard in bed?

Prole2: What?

Me: You know, with the hand?

Prole2: What?

Me: Um…you said you heard a voice calling your name and there was a cold hand?

Prole2: Oh…you mean that dream I had about the voice and the hand?

Me: It was a dream?

Prole2: Oh yes. It was a dream.

That is an hour and a half of parental paranoia I won’t get back.

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