The Best Help You Can Give Other Parents
The baby on the plane that was so tired she couldn’t make sense of where she was or what she wanted. The two toddlers, maybe one year apart, who zigzagged across the moving sidewalk between terminals. The preschooler trying to drag his baby sister and her stroller onto the baggage scale because he saw everything else go on it.
What I noticed was that I was on high alert, with Mom Ears on and Mom Voice engaged and Mom Smile at the ready. I was watching them to see that they didn’t go too far or do anything iffy when their parents were reading arrival and departure screens, or digging in bags for a toy, or showing ID to the gate attendant. A little girl made a break for the seating area just as her parents cleared the gate and started down the jet way; I sidled into her path and smiled sweetly at her until she turned and found her mother’s hand. An older infant started to squirm in her mama’s arms, made the little moue that presaged a tantrum, so I played peek-a-boo with her until she smiled, and then realized she didn’t know me and snuggled back down into her mama’s warm shoulder.
I just talked to Daphne, my 10-year-old daughter, and she immediately lit into me for not picking up the phone the last eighteen times she called us. Whoops. I did mention that Guy’s phone had international calling and that mine wouldn’t work here in Puerto Vallarta.
I told her a little sheepishly that we had turned off the phones and left them in the safe once we discovered we can could call home for free from the room. Must have forgotten to tell her. So, I promised I would check my email several times a day and call her after school if I could. (In all fairness, I had been calling before bedtime but she likes to check in several times a day and CLEARLY doesn’t have anything else going on.)
After we hung up, Guy found his phone, turned it on and said, “Holy shit she’s sent a million texts,” and handed me the phone. Dear Aunt Betty on horseback knitting an afghan.
Sun @ 5:16 p: Answer me!
Mon @ 5:46 p: Fine!
Tue @ 5:34 p: EVERY TIME I CALL I GET GUY’S WEIRD VOICE MAIL THING! TURN ON THE PHONE!
Tue @ 6:56 p: HEY EARTH TO PEOPLE OF MEXICO PICK UP THE PHONE! GUY’S VOICEMAIL IS GETTNG ON MY NERVE.
Tue @ 7:14p: ARGHHHH
Today 1:13p: PICKUP!!!!!!!!!!
Today @ 2:10p: CHECK UR PHONE
Today @ 3:02p: Seriously
Today @ 4:05p: I don’t need to know what your job is GUY I just need to know WHY AREN’T YOU PEOPLE PICKING UP!
Today @ 4:07p: I mean seriously the whole voicemail thing and Mytech or whatever pleaseeeeeee
Day two of our honeymoon: Signed my new name for the first time, spent 2.5 hours with a vacation salesman (did not buy but made a friend—his daughter is spending a year at a high school near us so of course we were all creepy and said have her call us! if she needs anything it’s good to know a local!), burned my chest, got the spins from too many margaritas (the ones in the sales room were especially strong), booked massages, and are about to schedule our special private honeymoon dinner on the beach, yes, a private table out on the beach. Where no one has to listed to us being childish and inappropriate.
Have a few photos to share, from the wedding getaway and the first day here, then I have some work to do of all things. But mama’s gotta have new shoes, so suck it up, am I right?
I had just put on my new, comfy Gap pjs and poured a glass of wine when my son called and began a slow but steady buildup to a honest-to-jeebus freakout over packing for his 8th grade class trip to D.C. They leave Saturday morning, but TODAY IS THE ONLY DAY HE HAS TO PACK because he has baseball practice and a hockey game ver the next two nights, so of course we must all immediately drop everything and make it all better.
So, I threw a sweater over my pjs and drove 15 miles over a windy mountain pass with shirts, shorts, a suitcase, a duffel bag in case the suitcase wasn’t big enough, my ski shell because it’s not as bulky as the Tony Hawk cold weather coat I bought him last year and was convinced wold be the coolest thing ever but haven’t seen him wear yet, packing organizers (seriously, necessary if there are going to be 4 thirteen year old boys in a hotel room for five days), flannel shirts, Daphne’s valentine to Daddy she made on my computer, and a Chinese Dragon project that Dylan left at my house by accident. We spent an HOUR coloring that thing last night, and even longer researching ancient Chinese history terms, so dammit, that dragon was coming with me. Only, the feet fell off on the way to the car so I had to scan and email them so he could print them out and attach anew.
SO. Anyone with kids knows it’s way more complicated to pack for a trip when there’s offspring involved. I have done it with three, and with six (though Guy took care of his three and I did my three), so I know from organized packing. I make piles. I do laundry and add to the piles. NOTHING goes in the luggage yet because anything that goes in must come out at least twice before being assured a final spot in the case.
Here’s the thing: It’s easier to pack an entire family than it is to pack a single child. These class trips are organized ad nauseam and still there will be freakage while trying to comply with the checklist. With three kids, I pack: Piles of bottoms. Piles of tops. Piles of pjs, undies, socks & jackets. Each pile has to be complete before it goes in the bag or someone will paw through it and destroy the organization. With three kids, I am Empress and Queen and have total packing authority and autonomy.
Not so with a single 13-year-old going to the nation’s capitol with over a hundred of his closest friends. The only reassuring thing is that he is taking that packing list as seriously as I am. Take the poncho (please! *cymbals*). They must have a poncho. Now, I have provided the finest Gortex ski shell North Face manufactures, but we both know that it will not pass for a poncho. The teacher in charge has made it very clear: you don’t have a poncho, you don’t get on the bus. Which could get messy in a hurry at 4 o’clock on a Saturday morning when everyone’s trying to drop their kids off.
Tell me: when was the last time you had to find a poncho? A poncho is an impulse buy, or something supplied by an organization anticipating inclement weather during a tour of their facilities (see: Orlando Sea World photos before they issued Shamu ponchos. When it got rough they had us all step AWAY from the pools and keep all hands OUT of the water. It would not do to send mommy bloggers and offspring back home as charred remains.).
Knowing that my ex would prefer to apply logic and trust that a water-resistant jacket with a hood would do the same work as a poncho, I set off in search of the much inferior, extremely dorky, but more exact fit to the description.
People, let me tell you: places like CVS and Rite Aid and Albertsons are a cornucopia of random impulse items scattered throughout the store, mostly at end-of-aisle displays or on the shelf above the freezer aisle. I knew this going in. I was pretty sure I could find a damn poncho.
- Angry Birds chew toys with pigs on the flip side;
- Down jackets in two sizes, Giant and Mouse;
- Snugglies for puppies;
- A remote controlled, flying clown fish;
- Socks, underwear, emergency pjs (What? Really? Must investigate.), nylons, boxers, and fleece blanket. And that was just in the aisle next to the produce;
- Memory cards in the bakery aisle; and
- My personal favorite, a kitty bed in the shape of a red, lace-up sneaker.
But, no ponchos. That is, until I skirted the coffee shop (Really?) and saw a carousel of umbrellas that—wait for it—harbored several ponchos of various sizes and colors. I know a gold mine when I see it , so I snatched three. I figure there will be at least two poor saps whose parents’ love of logic would prevent their children ever boarding that bus. I tossed them to my son and told him to charge at least four times what I paid. “Mom, that’s going to be the FRIEND price.” That’s my boy.
And now, I’m back home, hoping my ex will check his email so Dylan can hand in a dragon with feet. Heh. There’s a sentence I never thought I’d write.
In other news, my ex has a new cat.