Traveling with a toddler is an interesting way to speand a weekend. Quite honestly, Mary Tyler Son is a champion airplane traveler. When you prep him right so he knows what is happening when, and you’ve got chewy treats for the take-off and landing, and he has access to his favorite books and toys, he does great.
I think the best compliment I ever got was from an older man when I was flying home alone from NYC with the little one this summer. Mary Tyler Dad will be the first to tell you that I sort of, kind of rely on him for a lot of the heavy lifting when we travel as a family. My job is to get my stuff and the boy’s stuff ready, and Mary Tyler Dad basically does everything else. Packs. Gets the boy’s diversion pack for airplane ready. Tickets. I fluff my hair and go. He does everything else.
Traveling alone with the boy this summer, I had to take the lead. I mean I encouraged two year old Mary Tyler Son to do it, but he just kind of looked at me. Yeah, I had to step up, so I did. And we did great. Anyway, back to the best compliment ever. Mary Tyler Son and I were flying home from NYC and he did beautifully. I had chatted very briefly with the older man next to me who was visiting his son in Chicago. At the end of the flight, he leaned over and in his warm, yet authoritarian voice said, “You know, if all of the people of the world had a mother like you, there would be no problems.” I don’t know what it is, but older Jewish men always seem very God-like to me. I think it is the Catholic in me. That compliment had me on a cloud for weeks. And four months later, I’m trotting it out for you, so you see, it still holds water for me.
My family flew to Philly on Friday for a friend’s wedding, but we have lots of friends and family there, so we decided to extend our stay and see some folks. Mary Tyler Son, as is him norm, did fantastically on the flight. No nap, which is tough on him, but he conked out before we left the airport in the rental car. We got to our friends’ home, chatted, unpacked, and told Mary Tyler Son it was time to see the Aunt and Uncle for Shabbat dinner. That meant leaving our friends’ home, full of new and exciting toys, to get back in the car for 30 minutes. Sigh. And, of course, I forgot the wine and flowers I had picked up, adding another twenty minutes to the trip. So we missed sundown.
Our lovely boy, the one who had behaved so beautifully on car and train and plane and bus, decided Shabbat dinner was a perfectly wonderful time to turn. With his three younger cousins seated at the table, Mary Tyler Son refused. Point blank was having none of Shabbat dinner. What is the etiquette here, people? I did not want a fight, we had already delayed the dinner, and all were hungry. I let him sit on the rug next to us and play with a helicopter. And that, of course, was not very kind to the three and four year old cousins who had to sit politely and see this punk kid from Chicago get special treatment after acting the brat. Sigh.
Eventually, he did join us at the table. And slurped his soup. Loudly. Repeatedly. But he ate it and loved it. When it was time to go, another shift to brat. Ugh. It is embarassing. When you only see family rarely and this is the kid they see, whose to say what they think of him or your parenting. You just gotta shake your head and make the best of it.
The rest of the weekend went well enough. Mary Tyler Son did well with Saturday night’s babysitter. He loved the daughter of our hosts. He flew well enough again. He likes to flirt with the folks directly behind us, whoever they may be, but because he is smiley and happy, they all seem happy enough to oblige. There was the one kerfluffle when we had to stow the electronics. Yeah, that wasn’t very pretty, but quickly enough, with his chewy treat, all was well.
The real meltdown came in the car ride home. You would think piece of cake at this point. We’re mere minutes from home, but generally, this is when Mary Tyler Son really loses it. I can’t explain it, but after almost every trip home, he goes ballistic on the ride home from the airport. This is truly fun in a cab. Today we had our car. He started kicking my seat and grunting loundly. UGH! UGH! UGH! If we were home, this is when he would loudly proclaim, “I’m MAD! I need to slam a door!” Effectively restrained in the car seat, he came up with a new one, “UGH! I don’t want to be a rockstar anymore!” And on and on.
“DADDY! I DON’T WANT TO BE A ROCKSTAR ANYMORE!”
I was not allowed to talk. Or even open my mouth. Per Mary Tyler Son, that is. It’s really hard to stifle a laugh when you can’t open your mouth, but Good Lord, how can you not laugh at a two year old screaming about his rockstar life. He was a mini Russell Brand. But cuter. And minus Katy Perry.
Ugh. So yes. Traveling with a toddler is interesting. He’s a cute kid, so I forgive him everything, but is it 8:00 yet?