Last month as I was getting ready to fly to Oregon for a series of events, I was surprised at how packing and getting myself ready took far less time than packing for my 3 year old son. I thought one bag for both of us would do the job, but after realizing that he needed far more clothes than I did, we were lucky to get by with only two. Of course, that did not include his carry-on backpack full of books, crayons, super heroes, hot wheels, snacks, pull-ups, wipes and an ipod, just in case. I never thought I would resort to downloading a movie to keep him entertained, but I think it may have been my saving grace, and his too.
His first airplane trip was to New York when he was four months old. Since I was going to be in meetings, I wanted to be sure my husband could feed him, so we had to bring an ice chest full of frozen pumped milk, bottles, warmer, bottle brush, car seat, stroller, sling, diapers. Of course, now we had to make sure that the hotel had a fridge big enough for all of the milk. “Oh, my God”, I thought, “This is crazy”!
Along with his first birthday, came more travel and even more stuff (mostly because his clothes and toys were now bigger). At two years, even more travel, and the feeling that, “This is borderline ridiculous”. This was especially true when we went home for Christmas. So much for images of the happy, smiling travelers returning home for the holidays, baby in arms.
Then I securely assured myself, “Oh, it will get easier as he gets older. There will be less stuff and because he can walk and talk, it won’t be so hard to get around or communicate. He won’t need as many clothes, blah, blah, blah.”
Ha! That was a complete fantasy!
Now that he can walk, he can also run, and run he does; as fast and as much as he can; wherever, whenever he can. How I love to see those little feet go and that cute behind…but not in a crowded airport!
So first and foremost, I never forget the umbrella stroller, a must for toddlers, even if he’s the one pushing it! Besides, he does get tired and then when he cries “Mommy can you carry me” (along with his backpack, my carry-on bag, coats, etc.), I can cheerfully say, “Here honey jump in your carriage!”
Next biggy…the shoes. And what was I thinking putting him in those, oh so cute but ridiculous, high tops that lace up forever? Nope, Crocs are the only way for us. Slip off, slip on! Yes! One for the mom!!
The most exciting part for my son is getting the containers for the x-ray machine. While it is fun for him, and I feel proud watching him grab and try and grab and try again; putting things in and pulling things out, the glares from my fellow future passengers are enough to make me say, “Here honey let me do it” and risk a complete meltdown because he feels that he left his job so incomplete. However, by now the next fascination has caught his eye and while I am struggling to throw things into these containers as fast as humanly possible, he has already tried to walk through the metal detector and towards the guard. I say something like, “Please wait, listen to mommies words”, but he is so excited and proud to be doing it on his own that even the guard gives us a break and doesn’t get on him too much, only partially glaring at me as if to say, “Lady control your kid!”. I smile and say “Thank you” and tell my son to say “Thank you” to the nice guard, and pray that because I have pulled out every electronic gadget in advance, that they will ignore the milk and small bottle of sealed water going through the x-ray machine.
And then the liquid debate starts.
The guard says “Is this rice milk for the baby?” I say, “Yes it is”. The milk stays. Yes! Another one for the mom!!
Then they see the water. In no less than six flights we’ve taken, we’ve gotten six different responses.
#1 “No water allowed”…Trashcan.
#2 “Is this water with fluoride?” … “Uh, fluoride? Uh sure”… …This can stay.
#3 Sealed, small water with fluoride … “For the baby?” the guard asks, as if I am to catch a cue. Then, very deliberately staring me in the eye, she says again, “Water for the baby right??…” “Umm, yes of course”…This can stay.
#4 Same type of sealed fluoride water, different airport…..”Can’t stay”. I try the deliberate look in the eye trick and say “But it’s water for the baby (wink wink)”… Now he’s mad, and it still can’t stay!
#5 Didn’t look; didn’t care.
#6 I didn’t try… bought it on the other side…. Now why hadn’t I thought of this earlier?
Meanwhile, one of my fellow travelers proudly announces out of earshot of the guards, “Wow, I have carried this Swiss army knife through my whole trip, just to see if anyone would notice”.
Hmmm, I ponder, “Let’s see, a knife or water”?
But that, is another topic.
Here's a "sort of" helpful link (note the smiling faces on the travelers faces):