This week my husband and I are flying our son, the 19-month old Juban Princeling, down to Florida to make up for the vacation that never happened back in February. I don't know if it's suicidal or comical or stupid or optimistic or some combination of all of those things, but we're doing it. We're that desperate for a vacation. The plan is to spend the first three nights in West Palm Beach with my mother-in-law, then the next five nights in Miami with my parents. Again: we're that desperate for a vacation.
Traveling with a toddler, even to our own parents' houses, apparently requires the meticulous planning, resources, and organizational skills of a major military operation. Husband and I recently watched a show on Sun Tzu's "The Art of War," and I'm fairly certain that planning the storming of the beaches at Normandy didn't require nearly as much preparation as our one week trip to Florida.
The flight down is three hours long, which I've divided into six half-hour units. I figure if we can make it through each unit one by one we'll be more likely to stay calm and less likely to hurl ourselves out the emergency exit. For each unit we'll have:
*A box of raisins
*A fruit squeezey thing
*A pack of peanut butter crackers
*A juice box
*A plastic bag (for dirty diapers, not for suffocating ourselves with, though that option is not entirely off the table)
I've read Amy Wilson's piece in Parenting this month, so I know what's up. We have a 2:1 adult-child ratio, so that's a good start. And hopefully the Princeling won't get motion sick like he did when we made our mad dash to flee New York by car in February, only to make it as far as the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge before turning around because the Princeling kept throwing up. I told the hubby about Wilson's piece and said that as long as the Princeling doesn't throw up six times, we're OK. He's worried that my standards for this flight are way, way, way too low.
We also used the Princeling's credit on the airline to purchase him his own seat so that we have an entire row to ourselves. We bought him one of those AmCares harness thingies so we don't have to schlep a car seat around the airport and onto and off the plane. Despite Florida's appallingly lax child-restraint laws, my parents do have a brand new car seat down there.
Well-meaning articles around the interwebs offering advice on traveling with toddlers suggest the use of portable DVD players or downloading eps of Yo Gabba Gabba onto my iPhone, and if this were any toddler but the one we've recently dubbed the Tricksy Hobbit, that might work. But my son is not a "normal" toddler. I recently had to put a four-digit number lock on my iPhone because he's figured out how to swipe it on, and the only thing he likes to play with on my phone is the ONE BUTTON ON THE ENTIRE PHONE that brings you back to the home page. The one that cancels any apps I might be attempting to utilize to amuse him. When I first got my phone I downloaded a snowglobe for him, thinking how much fun he'd have shaking my phone and watching the snow flurry around the screen. I've also downloaded apps with hopeful but misleading names like "Babysitter," thinking that it'll give him something to do those times when he's forced to schlep to the post office with me and we get stuck in line at our branch's ONE Automated Postal Center behind some woman who has to mail out 47 oversized enveloped for her office and she hasn't yet figured out how to do the one swipey thing with her credit card so she doesn't have to keep doing each envelope as a separate transaction. But no, all the Princeling wants to do is press the ONE BUTTON ON THE ENTIRE PHONE, which brings him to the home page, which he THEN decides to touch and play with and usually ends up calling my mom's cell phone so that the poor woman collects about 87 hang-ups from me per day.
So no, I don't think a portable DVD player or Gabba eps on my phone will do it, though I will let him play with my phone in the locked position.
And, as a last resort for our flights to and from Florida, I'm doing a little ritual to try to summon a creature to hang out on the wing of the plane to keep my son entertained. If it worked for an entire half hour of the Twilight Zone, it can work for a full unit of our plane time. Preferably without any teensy-weensy breakdowns.
In case you missed it in my last post, I've launched my own website and my personal blog, which will be more involved than Twitter (...which I don't use nearly as much as I should) but not as coherent (if you can call it that) as this blog on HuffPo. Go and check them out! Add them to your RSS feed! Put them in your Google Reader! There are photos! And shenanigans! And free booze! Ok, that last one is a lie.
Follow Meredith Lopez on Twitter: www.twitter.com/meredithlopez