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A Bumpy Ride

Begun 4/5/2008

There are days when this parenthood thing seems pretty easy and when I marvel at all the modern conveniences we have at our disposal, and days when the whole thing just tires me out and makes me feel spectacularly inept. The day I traveled to San Francisco and the day I returned home would be examples of the latter.

As I typed the first part of this, Matt was sitting next to me trying to get Simon to take a nap:

Simon is shot, having endured a bumpy and delayed first leg and now a bumpy, similarly delayed second one. If we were home, he’d be in bed in a half hour. As it stands, we’ll be doing good to get him in bed by midnight Eastern. [Note, we got him to bed at 2:00 a.m. Eastern.]

The thing is, on paper, we did everything right. We packed meals. We packed videos to watch on my laptop. We’ve got dirty dog and Pat the Bunny Sleepy Bunny. This trip, he’s in his own (expensive) seat, comfortably settled in his regular car seat. But none of this is making up for a very long day of tedium and restraint.

I have done a great job organizing us for this trip, and Matt is doing a spectacular job of attending to Simon now that we are en route, what are we doing wrong to have this fussy, miserable kid? And if the answer is “nothing”, then I have some questions.

Namely, how the he** have others pulled this off? Theoretically, entire peoples live on the road for much of their lives. The Himba do. The Wodaabe do. I think some Beduin still do. Entire peoples have also faced long relocations. Some are known to have been awful, like the Cherokee march to Oklahoma. But what about all those pioneers who headed West in the US with all that they owned crammed into a wagon? What about my own family, which came from Eastern Europe to the U.S. on a boat and with kids in tow? How did they do it? Did their babies wail the whole way?

I can’t help but think that we’ve either lost touch with how to do more with less or that airline travel offers a perfect storm of misery. Whichever it is, I’ll be happy when this particular journey is over.

I’m now back from the return trip, and not much has changed. We got lucky with better flights on the return, but it was still really hard. As we sat in the terminal at SFO, Simon threw a colossal fit that only constant walking in the stroller could abate. On the plane, he indulged his game of “do!” until I thought my back would break. To make matters worse, we accidentally packed up all his books, so he had little to do other than read Do Princesses Count ? (the one and only board book available for purchase our side of security) and throw stuff. Worst of all, we seem to have missed one launching of dirty dog and came home without him. [Two replacements arrived via Amazon today. Welcome back, dirty dog!]

I was amazed and angered by how ill-designed airports can be. To get from the rental car return to our gate at SFO, for example, we had to take 5 (five!) elevators. We were so crammed on the plane that Simon’s carseat blocked the seat tray from coming down. The proffered food was negligible and disgusting. And, holy cow, both our planes heading to SFO lacked changing tables in the lavatory. Matt had to change a poopy diaper with Simon sitting on his lap. If there’s a medal of honor for parenting, he gets it for that one!

This trip was all about the destination, and very little about the journey, I tell ya.

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