October 31st, 2007
When Annalie was ten months old, we flew from Phoenix to Maryland on a house-hunting trip. As we were disembarking one of the planes, waiting for the guy in front of us to get his carry-on down from the overhead bin so we could continue on our way, a grandmotherly lady sitting next to the aisle commented on how cute and well-behaved our daughter was. We thanked her, and she asked, “Was this her first plane trip?” Well, no, it was actually our not-yet-one-year-old’s 12th time on a plane.
Pretty much from the day Annalie was born, our philosophy was: babies are portable! Accordingly, we took her with us everywhere we went, and we went a lot. Annalie’s first road trip was from Phoenix to Las Vegas (to visit assorted relatives) when she was seven weeks old. Her first time on an airplane was when she was three months old. Those trips were the first of many.
Partly because we’ve always traveled so much and partly just because of her personality, Annalie is a good traveler. She knows the drill in airports and on airplanes, and while she does get antsy after she’s been strapped in for a couple of hours, it hardly ever leads to tantrums. We’ve worked hard to make sure she knows the etiquette–not kicking the back of the seat in front of you, for example–and it’s not exactly relaxing to fly with a young child, but it certainly is fun. Like anything in life, going on an airplane with a little kid is to experience the wonder again for the first time. Look at the tiny houses down there! Wow, we’re above the clouds! Hey, apple juice from a can! We’re going down so fast! Wheeee!
Staying in hotels or at other people’s houses is a bit trickier. Schedules are always off when you travel, sleeping arrangements are different, and then there’s all the ice cream that Grampaw is always handing out, turning an overstimulated child into a sugared-up one. We’ve always tried to see those situations as opportunities to practice being flexible; also, opportunities to let the grandparents have some quality time with Annalie while we go see a movie. In any case, a sense of humor and the realization that the situation is temporary are essential. As much as travel tends to frazzle us, the adults, imagine how much more disorienting it is when you’re only three feet tall and have not left home and gone back a hundred times before. We see each trip as a learning experience, for Annalie and for us. We’re all getting better at traveling as a family each time we go. Practice makes perfect, but we don’t expect perfection yet, if ever.
This weekend, Annalie and I are headed to California to visit some of my aunts and uncles and cousins. My mom is also there right now, so we get a bonus visit with Gramaw. We even plan on going to the beach and hanging out with some friends while we’re there. We’re sad that Troy won’t be able to come with us, but he is hoping to get some home-improvement projects done while we’re away. (Strangely, he can always work more efficiently when we’re gone. I am sure he is channeling his grief and loneliness into the work.) Annalie and I are flying back to Omaha with my mom mid-month, and Troy will be joining us the weekend before Thanksgiving, because my Gramma B is turning 90 and there’s a big get-together. Then the weekend after Thanksgiving, Annalie and I are both in the wedding party for our friends Rachel & Jeff.
It’s gonna be a busy month.