Last month we went to visit some very wonderful people in Ireland.
Dave and I haven't been over in nearly four years, and last we went Miss C was exactly 12 months. And she was that baby on the flight over. The one that you wish you weren't sitting behind or in front of or next to because of the nonstop crying. It was an overnight flight, and the first hour, the other travelers were so sweet, making smile faces at her and asking about how old was she? The second hour, there was a feigned indifference, like, If I pretend not to hear your child, then maybe I can actually tune her out and get some sleep. And the third and fourth and following hours? Just downright hostility. Which: I understand, and I'm sorry. I don't expect people to adore sharing their crammed space with vocal babies. But the strawberry gum and vodka I gave her just weren't working.
That experience made traveling over together this time all the more beats traveling with a 12 month old!
Every single part of traveling with a 4 year old I would do over and over again. Nonstop questions I can take far better than nonstop crying. And the questions began as we pulled out of the driveway in Rochester and continued as we drove across the border to Canada, to fly out of Toronto. You keep asking questions, I'll keep drinking coffee, and eventually, one of us will win. Either my responses will get too caffeinated and long-winded or your tongue will get tired of forming words.
"Why isn't the border patrol looking at me? Why did they ask you all the questions and not me? I know where we're going."
Just don't tell them where the drugs are, I said in my head.
And then spotted another Tim Horton's for a re-fill.
My favorite set of questions came as we prepared to go through security at the airport. Dave and I were in the zone: he removing his belt and hiking boots, me removing my sandals, earrings*, every stray bobby pin in my hair. Miss C stood back, looked over at the other line of people moving with ease through the metal detectors, and called out, "Why are you getting undressed? I don't want to take my pants off!"
I was bent over, holding a shoe and wallet in one hand, when I saw us from her perspective: getting naked right there in the airport.
What's that? Canadians don't strip to walk through security?
O Canada. How much you miss.
A line of bemused and fully clothed people watched as we walked barefoot through the detectors, though I only overheard one, who sort of whispered, "That seems quite unnecessary."
I agree, entirely. The problem is I've been trained this way, and I've gotten quite good at taking off rings and things in a matter of seconds flat.
Now, what would you have me do with this skill? Not use it?
I collected my bobby pins, shoved them into my pocket, and called to Miss C, who still hung back and clutched the waist of her pants.
Here I thought the cultural exchange would begin after we'd crossed the Atlantic!
We had a really stupendous week visiting, and the learning did indeed continue, as per demonstrated:
(in a conversation with my dad's cousin)
Me: Have you felt the effects of the recession at all?
Cousin: Of course, of course. At work, you know.
Me: A lot of people have been let go?
Cousin: That, but also the reduced pay, you know. Many people now have a salary decrease in order to pay off the national debt.
Me: Oh, really? So, you guys are paying that back huh? That's an interesting way to approach the problem.
To each their own!
(Now that I've indulged you in a tangent with no relation to this blog topic, how can I tie it all together?)
On our way back to Shannon Airport, with Miss C tearfully waving goodbye to each field and foal that we passed, Dave and I realized we hadn't packed enough snacks. Our goal whenever traveling with child is to always have enough snacks. It became clear then that there is a dearth of billboards on N69. "How are we supposed to know where to shop!" he quipped.
"How will we ever find Tesco without The Billboards!" I wailed.
We never did find Tesco. But we did survive to tell the tale.
Here's hoping your summer adventures are as exciting and informative.
*I don't really wear earrings since the ear-piercing accident of '87. But if I were wearing them, I would have been removing them and my shoes simultaneously.