We just arrived home from a week of “vacation.”* We took an airplane to get where we were going. Luckily, it was only an hour-long flight.
I’m in awe of parents who take babies and very young children on cross-Atlantic flights. Those moms and dads must know some secret I was never told. Or maybe the whole family drugs up on Gravol.
This trip was a huge treat because my husband came with us. I had back-up for a full seven days. I wasn’t outnumbered for a whole week!
Murphy’s Law seems to kick in whenever I take my children anywhere. Apparently going on an airplane is no exception. Here are some of the highlights:
- I purposely booked our Westjet flight for midday so we wouldn’t need to rush to get to the airport on time. My five-year-old son was up at 4:30 a.m. anyways, ready to leave. We ended up rushing around at the last-minute too.
- I gave the kiddies a treat in the airport (popcorn from Starbucks) to keep them from begging for the (super cool, very exciting!) airplane snack the minute we boarded the plane. My 23-month-old daughter spilled the bag of popcorn all over the airport floor and then started eating it. My son asked for the airplane snack the minute his seatbelt was buckled up.
- In a lovely moment of sibling harmony, my son grasped his sister’s hand as we boarded the plane. Unfortunately, she tripped and nose-dived through the door. We entered the plane with a howling toddler, making every other passenger so very excited to welcome us on board.
- I set my son up with headphones and the in-flight TV as soon as possible. The minute he put the headphones on he started yelling at me (without realizing it) because the previous passenger had turned the volume up to max.
- My daughter travelled on my lap. She flies free until she turns two. She is very tall for her age. As soon as we sat down the guy in front of us reclined his seat as far back as humanly possible. We got the last laugh when my daughter started kicking and pushing on his seat later in the flight.
- Both our departing and return flights were in the middle of nap time. Naturally, my daughter waited to fall asleep until the plane landed, giving her a ten minute nap; thus insuring no real nap that day.
- After giving her plenty of run-around time at home and in the airport, my daughter had not had a dirty diaper all day. Of course the lovely incident happened after the plane had taken off and right when the flight attendants pushed the drink carts into the aisle. Any mother who has travelled knows that the “change table” in an airplane is the size of a cutting board and only works for babies who are a month or two old. My husband and I made the very poor decision to “just wait until we land” to change our daughter. Lucky for us, there was another baby across the aisle. The dirty looks we got about the nasty smell emanating from our row? We just shrugged our shoulders, glanced pointedly at the other baby and rolled our eyes. 😉
*Vacation is in quotation marks because anyone who has travelled with small children (and without grandparents) knows it is anything but.
My baby girl is approaching two. Her favourite stuffie is her “Dollo.” Dollo was a baby gift from a dear family friend. My daughter attached to Dollo quickly.
On Facebook the other day a friend of mine was lamenting the fact that her three-year-old son was still very attached to a special blanket. She was pleased that her son could sleep in his own bed and use the potty. I think she saw the removal of the blanket as the next box that needed checking off in her son’s life.
I slept with my special blanket until I was sixteen. I still know exactly where it is: in a bag, in a box in my parents’ basement. I can still smell it and feel its worn softness against my cheek. It was my constant companion and comforter against scary monsters and sleepless dark nights.
The fact that my daughter has her own special stuffie doesn’t surprise me. If you look closely at the right side of the picture you can see Dollo’s tag sticking out. My daughter strokes that tag over and over as she falls asleep. As I rock her I can tell she is nearing sleep when her tiny fingers slow, pause then finally stop, in their daily ritual.
It was a warm, rainy day. The children were restless in the house. They’d played with toys, watched a show on TV, played with Playdoh and eaten countless snacks. They started chasing each other around and around the circle on our main floor and I knew it was time to get outside. After little A’s nap we bundled up in heavy-duty rain coats and headed out.
My daughter loves worms, and calls them “nerms,” which is adorable. When she finds one, she picks it up in her bare hands, runs to me, holds it up and proudly announces “Nerm! Mommy! Nerm!”
Her big brother had the idea to put them in the back of a plastic truck, and a new game was born. Soon, they each had a truck and were racing around our cul-de-sac seeing who could find the biggest worm, the smallest worm, the wiggliest worm, and on and on.
I love giving children the space and time to come up with their own games. It’s tempting to sign them up for more classes to fill our (sometimes long and arduous) days but moments like this make me grateful that I am at home with them for these very short years.
I’m not giving anything up by staying home. I’m gaining so, so much.
I’ve had two children for a while but we are just becoming a two-kid family.
My son is 5 years old. My daughter is 21 months old. Up until this point, we’ve been a one-kid-and-a-baby family.
I always wanted two children. I grew up with one older brother and was pleased to replicate my childhood “million dollar family” with my own kids. I envisioned all the things we could do that would be fun with two. When I was pregnant with my daughter I was told, “Don’t worry, two is easier than one because they play together.” HA! For me, one child and a baby wasn’t easier. It wasn’t two times harder. It was ten times harder.
But suddenly, now that child number two is approaching the age of two, things are changing in subtle ways. It’s easier now.
I notice it while making breakfast: 2 cups of milk, 2 bowls of oatmeal, 2 spoons. No mushy baby cereal, no breastfeeding or bottles. The only difference is the tiny spoons for my daughter’s little bites. It’s easier now.
I realize it while packing for a morning out: two bananas, two water bottles, two handfuls of crackers in little cups. No nursing cover, no bottle warmer. No pureed carrots, bib, spoon and wash cloth stuffed in a too-big, trendy diaper bag. Just a few snacks, one diaper and a couple of wipes jammed in my purse. It’s easier now.
It hits me when one of my children is upset about something. In the early days I would get so frustrated when my babies would cry and cry and I couldn’t figure out what they needed. Now they tell me and I can help fix what’s wrong. It’s easier now.
I notice it when the kids play. The ring stacker and foam blocks collect dust in a bin on the toy shelf. After hundreds of stroller rides and chewing sessions, Sophie the Giraffe is forgotten at the bottom of the toy box. I’m used to having my son’s playmobil and lego spread around our house. I’m used to watching carefully to make sure my daughter isn’t eating it. Suddenly, there are two children playing with it, fighting over it. It’s easier now.
I see it in the morning. A few times a week I wake up and there is a little bit of daylight peeking through the curtains. I realize that no one needed me all night long. It’s easier now.
It really hits me at the park. “Come on, little sis!” my son urges. “I’ll hold your hand! Don’t fall! I’ve got you!” Two kids, playing together. It’s easier now.
Oh, we’ve still got some hold-outs. The diapers, soothers, fleece sleepers, rocking chair and crib will be around for a little while yet. I’m glad they don’t all leave at once. As the baby things exit the house, I silently say a little goodbye to each one. I remember the precious baby breaths and the marathon rocking sessions with little faces nestled into my neck. I think of all the ups and downs of our years knee-deep in babies.
Last weekend my husband and I both sat down on the couch at the same time while the children played together. Nobody needed us for a full ten minutes.
We’re a two-kid family. It’s easier now. It’s wild. It’s wonderful.
I took this picture of my son with his stuffie a few years ago and it remains one of my very favorites. Rather than explain the relationship between a boy and his dog, I will re-post what I wrote about it last year:
B got Dogga for Valentine’s Day when he was 14 months old. It was love at first sight. Dogga became B’s “lovey“. Dogga came on the airplane, into the bathroom, to the park, to the beach, to playgroups, in the car and in the stroller. Dogga saw every first and many lasts. I’m a bit of a wild driver and once when B was barely two I had to slam on the brakes. B yelled, “hold on, Dogga!” from the backseat. I’m surprised he doesn’t have his own car seat.
Dogga has the power to heal cuts, dry tears, scare away monsters and cure loneliness. Dogga is magic. Dogga is practically alive.
Once we realized how important Dogga was we started looking for an extra, just in case. Fast forward a few years and now there are six. The original Dogga had his nose chewed off so “went to keep Grandpa’s dog company” on the farm. Now we’ve got Present Dogga (he appeared under the Christmas tree with a red bow), Girl Dog, Daddy Dog, Mad Dog (the way the fur goes over his eyes makes him look mad, according to B), Scottie Dog and Other Dog.
I’ve noticed the dogs are sometimes left behind now. They always come out for morning snuggles and quiet time. They always go outside for trampolining. They come on long car trips. They don’t come to the store anymore. They don’t come to the beach in the bike basket. They didn’t go to daycamp.
A year from now, B will be heading off to full-day kindergarten and the long, crazy days with two tiny ones at home will be over. Now that a change is approaching I understand what the kind grandmas in the grocery store mean when they say, “Treasure the moments. This is the best time in your life.” Even though some days are like a long, uphill (whining, screaming, chaotic) marathon, this time is fleeting. The tough parts fade away and what is left is beautiful.
Another blogger was kind enough to nominate me for a Top 25 list at Circle of Moms. If you’d like, click the link below, scroll down to Murphy Must Have Had Kids and vote each day until February 13th. 🙂
My husband went back to work this week after a 10 day vacation. Aside from missing him (because he’s a wonderful guy) I realized I felt a little edgy for the first few days he was back to work. Suddenly I was outnumbered again! A few things made me realize our vacation was over:
- No more sleeping in and nap trade-offs each day. On vacations I take the mornings and hubbie takes the afternoons. We both get actual sleep and are both happier to boot. When vacations are over, this luxury is kaput and we are back to maybe five or six hours/day of sleep each.
- I actually have to think about supper before 4:55pm each day. When two adults are in the house, one wrangles children while one cooks, cleans & does laundry. When it’s just me I actually have to (sort of) plan these things out in advance. We can’t have waffles for supper every night, as much as my kids would love it.
- I have an audience in the bathroom again. When my husband is home I can go to the bathroom alone. When he is at work, the bathroom is a public place with inquiring eyes and poking fingers. The genius who lived in our house before us decided to rig all the doorknobs so that no door actually latches. If I want privacy in the bathroom I have to contort myself so one leg is pushing against the door at all times.
- Showering isn’t guaranteed. I managed to get in a quick shower and an even quicker blow-dry today. No chance of using a straightening iron, that’s for sure. Living on the west coast, most days I can rival Monica in that Friends episode where she goes to Barbados. 🙂
- Getting out of the house in the morning takes two hours. Wrangling my beautiful 18 month old daughter into her clothing takes a team of people. She doesn’t mind that her diaper is lopsided, clothes mismatched and hair a puffy cloud that matches her Mommy’s. When her Daddy is around she gets colour-coordinated outfits and (an attempt at) pigtails.
At 5:15pm the magical sound of my husband’s key rattles in the lock. I breathe a sigh of relief. Back-up has arrived!
p.s. If you are a single parent or your partner works away from home a lot, I bow down to you.
p.p.s. If you have more than two children I bow down to you too. I’m not sure I could handle being chronically outnumbered. 😉
Driving to and from the grandparents’ house for Christmas vacation got me thinking: It should be illegal to travel with small children in the backseat of a car.
The distractions caused by children far outnumber any minor diversions caused by cellphone use, hair brushing or newspaper reading while driving. I cringe when I think back to some of the journeys I took while running on three hours of sleep in the months after each child’s birth. The police should stop wasting time ticketing speeders and phone-talkers. Sleep-deprived mommas are where the real money is.
Murphy’s Laws of driving with little kids:
- Even though you have purposely played only non-toddler music in your car for two years, Murphy’s Law says that the day you have a long journey to take is the day you accidentally put in a Raffi CD. Your children will sing Baby Beluga at the top of their lungs on every car trip you take for the next three years.
- Before you start the car, each child has a favorite toy in hand. As you back away from the house someone flings a toy across the car and needs you to reach back and pick it up.
- Before you back out of the driveway, the old DVD player is dusted off and plugged in.* The light in the cigarette-lighter-plug shines bright red as you start Toy Story 3. Once you’re on the highway a child kicks the DVD player, loosens the plug and makes the red light turn off, causing you to swerve all over the mountain road (*shudder*) to try to re-start it.
- There will be vomit involved. Just please, please don’t do what a friend of mine did. A dad I know was cleaning up a stinky mess and ended up shirtless, with a naked toddler, in a parking lot at night. Yikes.
- Don’t even tempt yourself with the idea that your children will sleep the whole way. If they do fall asleep, it will happen fifteen minutes before you arrive at your destination, thus nixing any possibility of a real nap that day.
- Before the car is in reverse, each child has a snack within reach. As you drive away, one child drops a snack and needs you to stop the car to retrieve it. Every time you pass a snack to the backseat someone will complain, “Why did she get more Mini Wheats than me?” or “Why did he get his banana first?”
- At the beginning of your journey each child has a sippy cup in hand. Just as you are merging onto the highway, your toddler flips her cup upside down, gleefully shouting “Shower! Shower!” while drenching herself with milk.
- It goes without saying that you will stop for a bathroom break. If possible, have a boy before a girl. When you are travelling without backup (i.e. a husband or grandparent) and your firstborn needs to relieve himself, you can simply pull over to the side of the road; no need to drag a sleeping baby sister into a nasty truck stop bathroom.
- Just when everyone settles down and you relax a little with your coffee, the steady refrain of “ARE WE THERE YET?” starts. You are not even a sixteenth of the way there yet.
- If your baby starts the trip happily sucking on a soother, it will eventually be flung to the muddy, Cheerio-covered floor. First option: Stop the car, pick up the soother and wash it with a baby wipe. Second option: Drive with one hand and crane the other arm backwards to hold the soother in the wailing child’s mouth. For five months my daughter screamed from the moment the car started until the moment it stopped. I did what I had to do to survive.
These laws apply only to one or two-hour trips to grandma’s house. For longer trips, take a plane.
*No, I do not have a minivan with built-in DVD players. I will never own a minivan.