I was a bit of a nervous flyer when the kids were younger. My anxiety had nothing to do with when to don an oxygen mask or how to prepare for a water landing though, but instead was brought on by a fear of what annoying things my kids might do once we were in the air. Would ear pain cause my son to scream bloody murder on both take off and landing? Would my daughter be the child that insists on enthusiastically demonstrating her sense of rhythm by kicking the seat back of the passenger in front of her the entire length of the trip? And I had never realized that in-flight vomiting all over the stranger in the seat next to us was in the arsenal of disgusting and embarrassing things my son could do until it happened one fateful toddler trip.
Trust me, I'd happily have removed a lot more than my shoes if the TSA agent could have warned me that my baby was planning a full-scale diaper blow-out. I've discovered, more than once, that it is not easy to give anyone (including myself) a head-to-toe bath in the tiny airplane sink.
Flying with older kids, though, as I did on our annual vacation last week, is a world apart. First, no one cries or throws up any more. And I'm pretty sure my children aren't too much of a nuisance to any of the adults on board, with the possible exception of the flight attendant when asking for a second bag of pretzels. But the best part, I've discovered, of air travel with teens and tweens is their unexpected ability to get along with each other -- at least for the duration of the flight.
While at the gate, my kids will bicker about anything and everything: What flavor of gum to buy, who gets to board first, who has to take the middle seat. But somehow as soon as the carry-on bags are safely stowed overhead, the rivalries and tensions seem to melt away. Like clockwork, all three of them will immediately pick up their individual issues of "SkyMall" and discuss the merits of owning a Lord of the Rings-inspired jewelry collection, ultraviolet shoe deodorizers, and elevated pool-side dog beds. They will spend hours discussing the likelihood that a passenger has ever been inspired to purchase a full sized replica of "The Peeing Boy of Brussels" fountain while cruising at 35,000 feet. They'll play cards, share sips of their sodas, discuss vacation plans, and even agree on which movie to collectively watch on the iPod using a set of headphone splitters.
This year our family went to California, a fairly long flight. And my husband and I relished the opportunity to sit three rows away from our offspring for four full hours pretending to be a much older version of the incredibly relaxed, purposefully child-free, couple on the cover of Time Magazine a few weeks back.
The serenity was, of course, short-lived. Because the minute we touched down, my oldest, perhaps by accident, perhaps on purpose, dropped a suitcase on my daughter's head while taking it out from the overhead bin.
Yes, we had been warned, that the contents might shift in flight. Carry-ons are notoriously unstable, much like my children's attitudes toward one an other.
But I will take this moment, nonetheless, to say thank you to the Wright Brothers for at least giving the mother of the Judge Brothers (and sister) the time to quietly enjoy her own SkyMall.
I am seriously considering purchasing the Guardian Angel of Peace statue. Something tells me I am going to need all the in-between-flight serenity help I can get.comments powered by Disqus
Do you have a little reader or an aspiring teenaged writer in your house? If so, you may want to venture to the Wisconsin Book Festival this weekend, to whet their appetite for wonderful words as well as your own.
When I was pregnant with my daughter, my husband and I had two names picked out. Upon her arrival we had not yet come to a conclusion on what that name would be. Everyone told us that when we saw her we would just know. We didn't.
At age 10 months, my kids have seen the zoo a lot already. I was a zoology major in college, and I have something of a zoo addiction still, so the twins (and their dad) are more or less condemned to a future rife with zoo visits.
Home-schooling can be a lonely proposition. Even as a college professor, Juliana Hunt remembers struggling to find support to home-school her now-grown daughter. "I was always hoping to find like-minded people who were in the same position as me," she says. "I know that children learn best through a give-and-take, question-and-answer process of teaching and learning, but where do you find mentors who can make that happen?"
After sleep patterns, I think the next biggest parenting concern I have and hear about revolves around the topic of food. How can I make sure my kids are eating enough vegetables? Did I pack them a lunch that is healthy enough? What can I feed them after school that doesn't come from a box? How many gripes am I going to get about the dinner I'm about to prepare?
As far as places to embark on Baby's First Air Travel go, Dane County Regional Airport is a pretty sound choice, especially at 6 p.m. on a Saturday night. My biggest fear was that my nine-month-old son would start screaming in the airport; my second biggest fear was that my son would start screaming and some of my former Epic colleagues would be around to hear it.
The recent shift in the weather is just another sign that autumn is fast approaching. That means one of my favorite activities is just around the corner -- apple picking. My husband and I have been picking apples every fall since before our kids were born.
I have a lot of questions about what to put on my eight-month-olds' plates -- and, if I'm honest, a deep and abiding fear of putting the wrong thing there. Did I start them on solid foods at the right time? What's the deal with baby-led weaning -- how much self-feeding should they be doing? At what age should I give them potential allergens like shellfish or nut products?
Lily the potbellied pig arrived at Heartland Farm Sanctuary blind, lethargic and too overweight to walk. The children of Heartland's summer day camp program took it upon themselves to put the curl back in her tail.
Is it just me or does each summer seem to go by quicker than the last? The end of summer is upon us and for many families this means the start of a new school year.
This past week, on the way to the grocery store, my daughter asked what I believed she thought would be a innocuous question, "Mom, when are we going back-to-school shopping?"
Volunteering with the Young Writers Summer Camp this past week really helped me to remember how utterly creative kids can be when encouraged to come up with their own ideas and use their own words.
This past week I gleefully accepted an offer for new job on the UW-Madison campus. My kids are getting are older and I guess I've felt for a while now that it was time to figure out what would be next for me on the professional front.
"Kids spend so much time in and around school, it's the only place where some have a chance to develop an appreciation for a healthy lifestyle," says Katie Hensel, founder and executive director of Tri 4 Schools.
"I'm envious, mom," said my twelve-year-old daughter as she hopped in the car after theater camp last week. "All the other kids in my group seem to really like, and to be really good at, singing, dancing and acting. But I think all those things are just okay."
"People are looking to book space here all the time," says Remy Fernández-O'Brien, communications and facilities coordinator for the Lussier Community Education Center, a private, nonprofit community center on Madison's west side. "They want to throw their child's first birthday party here or hold a Girl Scout meeting. We're really busy year-round, but it's especially lively here in the summer."
Last week, in response to the county-wide Sleep Safe, Sleep Well public health campaign that encourages parents to "share the room, not the bed" with their sleeping infants, Isthmus contributor Ruth Conniff penned a lovely opinion piece in defense of bed sharing entitled "Confessions of a Co-Sleeper."
As much as I'd like to believe there is latent genius in my daughter's early finger paintings, I'm pretty sure her works are not distinguishable from those created by the pointer fingers and pinkies of thousands of other children from across the world.
Seeing Romeo and Juliet this past weekend was a definite reminder that I need to prepare for something that might resemble a (near) West Side Story around our place pretty soon.
All during childhood, we calmly tell our kids they don't need to be afraid of the dark, thunder or the monster under the bed. But it's pretty hard to keep your parental cool when your kid is about to embark on the one thing that terrifies you. I knew the problem wasn't really with him. It was with me.