I’ve finally crawled out from the rock I’ve been under. It’s felt like forever. And kind of like exercise, it takes a lot of motivation to try and get back onto a blogging schedule after a hiatus. Fortunately, I’ve been MIA because I’ve been having fun rather than avoiding my life. Or more exactly, I spent one week preparing to go on vacation, two weeks on vacation, and about two weeks plus trying to get back to normal life. Seriously. I only finally put the suitcase back down in the basement last night.
A two-week vacay to France and Italy would sound like a dream to many. But as soon as I drop in one not-so-tiny-anymore detail–the baby–that dream would dissolve very quickly into a nightmare for most. My husband included. Our plane hadn’t even left the tarmac and he leaned over to me and said, “We’re never going on vacation again.”
Although he was the one who had insisted we travel with the baby, I will cut him a break and say he had no idea what he was getting into. He’d actually never traveled by plane (or car, for that matter) for any distance with him before. That was clear as he was packing entertainment items (earphones, iPad, DVDs, etc.) and I was strategically stuffing toys, snacks, and diapering items into every free inch of carry-on space.
And if I’m totally honest, the trip did not really start out on a good note. I got out of work late and there was an unplanned, hour-long detour to my husband’s work to get some paperwork signed. But the stress went through the roof when we arrived at the kennel and it was closed. Whoops. I forgot to double check the hours. Minor detail?
I’ll spare you the frantic details of the couple of hours leading up to our flight and leave it that my husband did ultimately make the flight after racing to find an alternative dog boarding situation on the fly, albeit he arrived soaked with sweat and disdain for me. I believe the first thing he said to me when he sat down was, “Don’t talk to me.”
If only the crumb cruncher could’ve understood that. In the kid’s defense, he was exhausted. It was an 11:30pm flight and he was way past his expiration date. But while I love my child, I will say he was absolutely miserable. We were those people with the inconsolable, screaming child on a plane. I think I might have even tried to clap my hand over his mouth at one point when we passed the 30-minutes of tantrum mark. Eventually the kid racked out (oh, the virtues of that additional seat we purchased). And wouldn’t you know, a couple of vodkas and an Atlantic Ocean later, my husband was talking to me again by the time we landed in London for our layover.
But while I only narrowly missed my own toddler-tantrum-inspired, mommy-meltdown moment on the plane, two weeks overseas with a toddler really wasn’t bad at all. That’s not to say we didn’t have a few “moments” where something was definitely going to give. There were several incidents where our child dramatically threw himself down on the ground, kicking his feet and crying, in several town squares. And a couple bus rides from hell. A near drowning incident. And a nasty, fever-y, vomit-inducing bug that kept us pretty much sequestered in an apartment for three days.
But it was also really fun. Having a kid in tow while traveling forces you to slow down and just enjoy the little things. As much as the panoramic views from the top of Mont Blanc or the gardens of Ravello, some of my favorite vacation memories are ones where we were just hanging out, watching our kid have fun with other kids. He had a blast with a boatload of kids at playground in Chamonix; he got silly with a little Giovanni at the airport in Rome; and he totally endeared himself to a mom and daughter on the beach in Amalfi by collecting rocks for them. More than most adults, kids are so not afraid to mix it up with the locals. Playground fun is so universal it totally transcends language barriers.
But I also really think it was good for the kid to hear strangers speaking other languages. The first day, I swear he had a little lightbulb going off about the fact that he could understand French people. And it cracked me up that he started making more “French” sounds. For example, the sound a firetruck makes in French is “pin-pon, pin-pon.” And I’d be lying if I didn’t say that it melted my heart that on our last day in Italy, the kid started saying, “Ciao!”
So, would I do it again? Absolutely. Sure, I made some travel faux-pas, but hopefully I can learn from them so the next trip will be even better. But overall, I can’t complain.
My husband, however, has a different take. After two wonderful weeks abroad, I asked him on the plane home, if he’d want to do another family vacation anytime soon. “Nope,” he said. “I was serious when I said we’re never going on vacation again.”
We’ll see about that.