December 22, 2001
6:13 PM   Subscribe

"They can throw the tapes or DVDs in there and they don't even know their kids are there." Before the rise of back seat DVD theaters and gameboys, more kids used to play various (non-video) games while stuck in the back seat. On long car trips, would you rather have your kids watching Shrek for the 10th time or have them playing games like Punch Buggy?
posted by gluechunk (25 comments total)
Disclaimer: I don't have total credibility in this discussion - I'm an involved uncle, but not yet a father.

That being said, from what I've seen, parents have little enough time to be with their kids in an environment without electronic noise. Why take that scarce stretch of uninterrupted time and just throw in another video?

The last link in the post has some great tips on traveling long trips. I especially like the part about Dramamine. It helps with motion sickness and it also has a certain, shall we say, calming effect on the children.
posted by jpbutler at 6:32 PM on December 22, 2001

when i was a kid, we played make me laugh.

the rules were this: you had to make the other person laugh without touching them. then you'd switch sides, and they'd make you laugh.

this usually went on until some sort of hitting occured.
posted by sugarfish at 6:37 PM on December 22, 2001

Kids? I played punch buggy with my girlfriend while visiting San Francisco. While I paid attention to the road she managed to legally hit me the entire day. Damn liberals and their VWs. I got my revenge later.
posted by stbalbach at 6:42 PM on December 22, 2001

My boyfriend still likes to play punch buggy. Drives me up a wall!

When I was a kid, we played the license plate game quite a bit, and sometimes the alphabet game (where you had to find the letters of the alphabet in order on signs. Harder than it sounds, when you come to Q and X.)
posted by SisterHavana at 6:49 PM on December 22, 2001

Hey, when you play punch buggy ('round here, we call it slug bug) do you count new Beetles or just the vintage? If you count new, you could get pretty bruised up just going through the parking lot at my work.

Those drop-down televisions are fairly distracting. I was stuck in traffic behind someone's minivan which had one installed and I must have got bored or something because I was watching "Scooby-Doo" through their back window.

My cousin is ten years my junior, and spent a 1000-mile trip to Wyoming in 1998 attempting to irritate whoever was driving. The presence of the Game Boy didn't help. The fact that my aunt didn't trust my driving didn't help either, as I was interred in the back with an eight-year-old who then proceeded to have me "look for cows"...
posted by Electric Elf at 7:18 PM on December 22, 2001

On our many Toronto to Florida marathon driving sessions we used to watch for license plates that were the furthest from home. We also counted sleeper cabs, drew imaginary border lines on the bench seat of the Chevy Impala, read spider man comics, and barfed into one liter ice cream containers due to motion sickness. Those were the days!
posted by srboisvert at 7:19 PM on December 22, 2001

Punch buggy = Slug Bug?

I used to save up all my Slug Bugs until the end of the trip, then punch my little brother 100+ times.

We also did the "I spy with my little eye" game. And the "Roadside Bingo" game. Of course, this was in the simpler days when kids could ride in campers without the parents getting a ticket. Of course, this also had the disavantage that my brother and I could get into the camper's refrigerator and drink all the sodas before we got to our destination without our parents' knowledge.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 7:38 PM on December 22, 2001

I'll never buy an in-car TV/vcr for the simple reason that it gives thieves another reason to break in... even if just to steal the video unit, they do a decent amount of damage just breaking in.
posted by fleener at 7:40 PM on December 22, 2001

Hate to sound like a sap, but it's a shame that these kids are going to grow up staring at a screen instead of viewing the beauty of the country.
If I had the choice 10 years ago while in the back seat during the obligatory Thanksgiving family trip to Vermont (a 6 hour drive). I would have pounced on the opportunity to watch a movie, but due to technology I was forced to absorb countless landmarks that attracted my parents interest.
These have now become places of interests that I can't wait to share with my children someday.....
posted by Eric Lloyd NYC at 8:30 PM on December 22, 2001

When I was a kid on long car trips, we always played word games, hangman if we had enough room and light to write, guessing or memory games if not. I continue that tradition now with our kids, a favourite being the various "I'm going on a picnic" games. Our kids have limited tv time in the house, we're not going to throw that ideal out the window just to keep them quiet in the car. It seems to me that parents who use the home TV and Playstation as babysitters are the primary market for these in-car systems -- why not extend the ideal to the car, if that's your style of "parenting" at home?
posted by Dreama at 8:39 PM on December 22, 2001

I see what you all are saying, but GOD DAMN! I still have nightmares about my brother slowly inching his stinky-ass socked feet onto my side of the back seat during long car trips - until finally his smellfeet were touching my leg, or worse, my arm. If I tried to curl up in a ball and sleep, you could be sure that sooner or later his feet would find their way to my head. That bastard. Maybe if we had gameboys or car-videos or something back then, I would be able to sleep in moving vehicles now.

Who am I kidding? He still would have done that stuff. That bastard.
posted by Samsonov14 at 8:53 PM on December 22, 2001

Eh, if you're rich enough to afford a vehicle that is equipped with a video console, more power to you, I suppose . . .

Me, I've been on plenty a trip to southern Florida (12 hours, ooh boy) with nothing more than my collection of books and a shared tape player to entertain me . . . now if more parents got their children to read we'd be in good shape :)
posted by somethingotherthan at 9:25 PM on December 22, 2001

Hate to sound like a sap, but it's a shame that these kids are going to grow up staring at a screen instead of viewing the beauty of the country.

It's obvious by your post that you've never driven *across* the country. Sure, there are plenty of beautiful six-hour stretches scattered throughout the lower 48, but as I've mentioned before, there are just as many 12-hour stretches that are empty enough to act as 600-mile Zen koans.
posted by Eamon at 9:34 PM on December 22, 2001

Not yet mentioned: The old favorite, 20 questions.

And my brother and I used to play an odd game where we counted cows. I counted the cows on my side of the car/road, and he counted those on his side. Now, there was a certain level of trust involved, because you certainly couldn't count the cows on his side to make sure he wasn't lying. And you had to actually look at and count each cow. If you passed a field of 500 cows, you only got the ones you counted while you saw them. And yet we managed to stay honest... well, I guess I don't know if he did or not.
posted by whatnotever at 9:45 PM on December 22, 2001

In my kid life, car bingo was a big thing on trips. The self-made bingo cards on this page aren't as cool as the cards with the little green/red sliding covers for the spots.

The key to the alphabet game is knowing where the liquor stores are.
posted by gluechunk at 9:56 PM on December 22, 2001

I'm all for the intellectually stimulating games and such for my yet-to-be-born children, for I whole heartedly support them, but I'm not sure that I could resist my ever-present technolust that would lead me to purchase things like in-car vcr/dvd players... Not to distract the kids, mind you... but only to satisfy my need to own the most technically advanced version of everything that comes on the market.... Oh, my poor children.
posted by crawl at 2:35 AM on December 23, 2001

I never played 20 questions in the back of a car without asking my big sister why she was so ugly. Now I'm bigger than my big sister I'm repaying the smacks round the head I got.
posted by vbfg at 2:52 AM on December 23, 2001

My favourite was always Pub Cricket, although it was years before I twigged that my Dad would always carefully establish whether he was in bat before choosing whether to head out of town past the Wheatsheaf or take the more 'scenic route' past the Cricketers' Arms!
posted by wassock at 3:54 AM on December 23, 2001

I'd give them horse tranquilizers or something
posted by matteo at 6:29 AM on December 23, 2001

I know several people with various forms of these systems in their car. Our higher-up manager at work has one in her Ford Excursion. A couple people I know have the ones where the screens drape over the back of the seats.

Either way, because of headphones, the noise is limited only to the clicking and clacking of joypads, or to a lesser extent just laughter if the kids are watching a movie. And when you're going any long distance, that it a great assett, keeping those kids quiet so you can concentrate on the road.
posted by benjh at 8:15 AM on December 23, 2001

anybody play Hey Cow?

you open the window and shout "Hey, cow!" as you pass a herd. you then count how many cows turn to look at you.

i'm from wisconsin.
posted by o2b at 8:50 AM on December 23, 2001

On long (eight-hour) car trips my entertainment consisted of mixtapes on a crappy walkman (later a CD walkman) or listening to my parent's collection of oldies mixtapes, books, games (like a little solitaire game - the one with the pegs, not the card one), paper and pens, staring out the window, eating snacks, and sleeping. Occasionally barfing. I was always well-stocked with things to do so I didn't get terribly bored - I did get cramped up with all of the crap I brought along that I didn't actually get to play with.

When I have kids it'll probably be the same deal, plus spoken-word games like people have mentioned (alphabet type games, picnic, etc). Roadtrips are fun enough by themselves without the need for in-car video games and videos.
posted by sammy at 10:43 AM on December 23, 2001

As thrilling as the Alphabet Game can be—or any car game for long rides for that matter—they all get dull eventually and cabin fever will soon strike.

Needless to say, I question the restraint that some parents have by getting a back seat video screen for their kids, but I can hardly blame them for creating another diversion for those whiny little brats.
posted by Down10 at 10:54 AM on December 23, 2001

I still play that blasted Punch Buggy today and I'm friggin' 32 years old! LOL We still beat the crap out of each other when either the vintage or newer VW's are seen. And we have the "no punch back" option that makes it extra fun.
posted by Aloe23 at 10:21 AM on December 26, 2001

I can hardly blame them for creating another diversion for those whiny little brats.

I would be happy with one of those soundproof partitions limos have. Hmm, I've said that here before, haven't I? Why hasn't anybody solved my problem yet?
posted by rodii at 11:27 AM on December 26, 2001

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