We were hoping with the graduation to forward facing, he'd be less inclined to scream and throw things in protest but, alas, we still struggle with trips of greater than approximately 5 minutes. Fortunately for us, though, Jackson has a weakness. And that weakness is Monkeys.
He has two of them. First, there is Little Monkey. When freshly opened from Great Granny Frannie last July at the beach, none of us had any idea that that screeching lavender ball of fuzz would become the one thing in this world powerful enough to soothe our son no matter how dire the tantrum had become. It has long since lost its ability to howl like any self-respecting purple howler (due to the futile attempts at washing out the stench) and the stuffing is all but gone in his neck leaving him rather floppy about the head. His tail is perpetually wet from being chewed on and the smell....well, let's just say that is about the most authentic monkey-part about him. All it takes is to find Little Monkey napping on the floor behind the couch or under a chair in the kitchen for Jackson to giggle and gleefully run to fetch his beloved friend. He is required for all stressful situations and most definitely for napping and sleeping.
And then there is Big Monkey. He is, as described, the bigger of the two. His main purpose is Jackson's night time bedmate, blanket, and pillow. But, as of late, he has also become a daytime companion, coming out to wrestle and hug and kindly offer himself as a warm soft place to sit on cold tile floors. Jack is also partial to the occasional body-slam of Big Monkey from the top rail of the ring. Unfortunately, Big Monkey cannot be washed as his fur is tenuously attached but he does enjoy the occasional tongue-bath from Dean the Dog when no one is looking.
Both by themselves are powerful animals but, when combined, they appear to have truly magical properties. Today is the perfect example. After a wonderful, albeit somewhat sleepless, weekend in Greenville at Cousin David's wedding, we settled in this morning for a 3 hour car ride home. Jackson napped for only the first 30 minutes and then was wide awake "asking" to be let out of his carseat. When he had eaten his body weight in animal crackers and destroyed every scrap of paper I could find to give him, with still 2 hours left to go, we desperately pulled out our secret weapon(s). The Monkeys.
It worked like a charm.
Who knows how long these beloved animals will have their powers. I'm sure one day, probably not in the too far off future, their hair will be loved off, their eyes will be gone, and they will be loose in the joints and very shabby and suddenly will turn real and run off into the woods to join their own kind. But at least, for now, we have a predictable arsenal of mitigating monkeys in the struggle for peace in the Shaw household.