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
This post will not (although it could) be a treatise on the value of "alone time" for a healthy marriage. Nor will it be an ode to how nice it was for me to have a few days off from lunch-packing, carpool-driving and homework-nagging. There is no question I completely enjoyed my break from the kids. But my biggest discovery this past weekend was that it was the kids, perhaps, who needed a break even more.
For those of you who haven't yet seen it, the eight-week-long transit campaign, placed both inside and on the outside of buses, features a photo of an orange tabby with a stainless steel bar drilled into its head accompanied by the line "I am not lab equipment. End UW cat experiments!" Just as PETA hopes, the image is shocking and demands an immediate response.
If I had my druthers, I'd sit out the entire shopping week that follows Thanksgiving. Black Friday, for starters, has corrupted the fine art of bargain shopping and turned it into a gladiator sport. There is no percentage off that is worth losing sleep, or even worse an eye, over. Especially if you have kids in tow.
When you shop for toys, there is always the conflict between what you think is appropriate/adorable and what the child being shopped for might actually want/play with.
Many of the pop-culture seasonal touchpoints of my youth are completely lost on my kids. You see, while I may have memorized every word to both the Snow Miser and the Heat Miser's songs from The Year Without a Santa Claus, I'm pretty sure the only Rankin-Bass stop-motion Christmas special my kids have ever seen has been Rudolph.
I am so thrilled that the United Way is sponsoring a Teen Gift Drive this holiday season. Sure, teen "wants" often aren't as fun to shop for as precious baby dolls and sweet Lego sets. But middle and high school kids still "need" to feel valued and loved during this time of year. And helping a family in need to provide this for their child is a wonderful way to get in the spirit.
My 11th-grade and 8th-grade sons have heard "the chant" for years. You know which one I'm talking about -- the ESFY (U?) chant (I'm not sure what the parenting post rules are for writing two of the more forbidden four-letter words in the English language) that appears to have both Barry Alvarez and Chancellor Blank quite concerned.
There are many different criteria parents use when evaluating which pre-school programs will be right for their children. Some parents might be looking for an educational philosophy that stresses creativity and community. Others may desire an option that revolves around learning through play or is more academic in approach.
We spent hours poring over name books and checking for inappropriate initial combinations. We looked at meanings, variant spellings and popularity charts. And, as I am sure every parent does, we thought we'd hit the name jackpot with each of our kids. But there are always surprises.
A generation or two ago, the pediatrician was the guy (yes, they were mostly guys) who gave your kids shots and prescribed big bottles of antibiotics for every sniffle. Madison's Dipesh Navsaria is a different breed of pediatrician.
Gamehole Con will be the premier tabletop gaming convention in the region. And with Wisconsin being the birthplace of Dungeons and Dragons, as well as the nation's leader in gaming stores per capita, it kind of makes sense that the convention's organizers want the Dairy State to be known for more than just cheese, beer and bratwurst.
This year I will also try to ease up some of my previous costume concerns. Sure, the world is rife with inappropriate dress up choices for our kids; there is no parent out there that is keen on his or her child dressing like a pint-sized prostitute, even for one night.
This past Saturday, I took my youngest to hear Caldecott award-winning author/illustrator Kevin Henkes read from his latest work, The Year of Billy Miller, a short novel for the early elementary grades.
I was greeted at the door by Tom Moen, who has served as executive director of what he likes to call "Madison's best kept secret", for the past 39 of the center's 47 years. Located in the middle of the subsidized Truax Park apartment complex, EMCC, with its vast array of offerings for kids, seniors and everyone in between, is unquestionably the heart of the neighborhood.
Madison's Kashmira Sheth has written four award-winning novels for middle grade and teen readers, and a popular chapter book for six- to nine-year-olds, but right now her picture books are what she's excited to talk about.
A few summers back, my daughter, maybe 8 or 9 at the time, decided to take part in our swimming pool's annual water ballet show. I'm not really sure what initially piqued her interest in the somewhat under-the-radar, very much under-the-water sport of synchronized swimming.
We rarely included a stop at the Central Library as part of our regular outing. For those of you who've been in Madison for a while, I'm sure you'd agree that the old building was pretty run down. Not to mention, dark, cavernous and depressing. Libraries, at their best, should be portals to discovery, right?
My eleven-year-old daughter spent most of last weekend alone in her room, door shut. It wasn't a temper tantrum or an overwhelming need for tween privacy that led to her self-induced isolation, though. Instead, I didn't see her (except for meals) for two days because she was, in her words, "going through her closet."
Yes, the 2004 classic comedy Mean Girls is an absolutely delightful movie. But it's definitely not the smartest mother/daughter viewing as your child is about to enter her inaugural year of middle school.
Despite celebrating 30 years in business this year, Knowledge Unlimited Inc. remains relatively unknown in the community. Those concerned with closing the achievement gap in Madison's schools, however, may want to take note. This award-winning educational-materials producer, based in Middleton, is unique in emphasizing multiculturalism throughout its lines of educational posters, DVDs and children's books.