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Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

Lesson Number One about traveling with an infant: Give yourself mounds of time. Our plane ride to Oakland last week was much more stress filled than it needed to be, and in large part that was because we just didn’t understand how much longer everything would take with an infant along for the ride.

Friday night I managed to pack because my in-laws came over to help with Simon (thanks Jim and Evie!) while I packed and Matt worked. Around midnight, Matt and I we decided to rent a car seat from Hertz after all and take an umbrella stroller with us. The problem with this is that we didn’t own an umbrella stroller, so Matt hit A STORE I WILL NOT NAME in the wee morning hours to purchase the same.

Saturday morning rolled around and we were a tired family that needed to wrap up last-minute packing, drop off my Dad’s car that we had borrowed the day before, and get to the airport by 9:20 or so for our 10:20 fight. How many mistakes can you spot in that sentence? We count 3. There should have been no last minute packing. There should have been no same day car dropping off. And there certainly should have been more than a single hour’s allowance at the airport.

We made it to Oakland (our luggage did not until the next flight-but that’s a different story), but it was no fun getting there. First, we were rushed out of the door and ran late getting to the airport. Second, once we got to the airport we realized that Matt had left his backback-holder of his laptop computer and our camera among other things-in my Dad’s car. We realized this in line at the ticket counter, when it was clear that we could not go back and pick it up.

What could we do? Matt called his brother to have him go back to my dad’s house, get the back-pack, and drop it off at our house. Once we got through security, Dan called. He had the computer, he made it to my dad’s in nine minutes, he thought he could get it to us before our flight left. At this time, our flight was boarding and was scheduled to take off in 20 minutes.

Oh God Oh God Oh God Oh God Oh God. I hate time stress like this. I hate cutting things close. I’m cavalier about when I arrive at airports solely because I know exactly how close I can cut things before the going gets gut churning. This type of I-think-I-can-make-it last minute rushing makes my guts burn and cranks up the cortico-steroids to unbearable levels.

I was hoping above all that Matt would say, “That’s OK, Dan. Just leave it at the house.” Instead, he gave me our second carry-on bag, rolled Simon in front of me, and ran out from the gate to pick up his bag. That left me to negotiate my tote, the diaper bag, the umbrella stroller I had never folded up before, and-oh yeah-Simon.

Oh God Oh God Oh God Oh God Oh God. Breathe. With much stumbling and help from a woman in line behind me (“I’m a grandmother,” she said, “I know how to fold that stroller.”), I managed to get myself, my stuff, and Simon on the plane with me. While Simon flirted away with pretty much everyone who would look at him-and I have a whole post coming about my son the Casanova-I sat there wondering what exactly my B-plan should be if Matt did not make it on the plane.

I whiled away the next few minutes in a sort of anti-Lamaze visualization exercise. I imagined myself turning around at Dallas to come home, homicidal in my rage that Matt left me at the gate alone. I imagined myself trying to navigate the Oakland airport, the new car seat, and a trip to Tony and Katherine’s all alone, homicidal in my rage that Matt left me at the gate alone. And I pictured sitting alone for hours at Dallas, waiting for the next flight we could both get on, slightly less than homicidal in my rage that Matt left me at the gate alone.

Lesson Number Two about traveling with an infant: Sometimes you have more luck than brains. By some sort of grace of the travel gods, Dan made it back to the airport in nine minutes, Matt ran through security at uncommon speed, and just as they announced the final boarding call and were ready to close the door and pull away from the gate, Matt appeared at the front of the plane. His belt was off. His shoes were untied. He was sweating from stress and exertion. And he’d rarely looked so handsome to me!

That covers planes. Next up, a little ditty about trains and automobiles.

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