The Traveling Toddler: Adventures with The Little Man

“You probably shouldn’t put your drink there,” I warned him, “He will grab it!” “Oh that’s ok.” He assures me.

Have you ever traveled with a baby? A toddler? If so, you know that even a couple-hour car ride can mean a peaceful nap, but any longer and you better be prepared to read, sing, feed, change a diaper, read, sing, feed, change a diaper at any given time.

We weren’t driving this trip either; we were flying. That’s not even the best part; our flight tickets are standby. So if anything can go haywire, it probably will, and I not only must improvise at any moment to entertain the little man, but I also get an audience of spectators.

Nothing better than a free, last minute, random, spur of the moment, all-day travel excursion alone with a toddler. Anything for Grandma!

Did I really attempt to fly unassisted with a 13 month old?

Yes, yes I am a little crazy! This trip is giving “flying by the seat of your pants” new meaning.

The ultra- planner in me started packing at the beginning of the week. We were leaving the 80 degree sunny Southern California on our way to 24 degrees and snowy Idaho. As if remembering all the extra gadgets and books wasn’t enough, I needed to pack triple the clothes so my poor little munchkin wouldn’t freeze.

I wake up extra early on Saturday morning so I can load the car and finish all the details before driving to the airport, and of all mornings the little man wakes up early. He pretty much wakes up between 7:30-7:45 every morning, but its mornings like this (or Sundays when we need to be to church on time) that he decides to change things up. This day he woke up extra early: 6am sharp!! Time for Daddy duty!

We get in the car a few minutes early to my surprise so I decide we should grab a quick bite to eat. We order. We get our food, but wait…they’re running behind of course. We pull into the drive-thru overflow parking space A couple minutes later, they bring out the rest of our order. We’re on our way.

About 30 seconds into our drive, I notice we are going a different way than usual, but since its my husband’s neighborhood he grew up in I hesitate to say anything. Men always know the best way, right?!
I’ working on this self-control issue I have, so I decided to put cold water on the boiling curiosity.

Finally I ask gently, ” Why did you decide to go this way…” I’m trying, really I am! He explains how he didn’t want to turn left to cross traffic…” We were supposed to actually turn right, but I accept the answer.

Fighting my control-freak nature, trying not to get frustrated, I start eating really fast, feeding the munchkin, and shuffling through by bag nervously. Finally, about five minutes later we’re now driving south west and the airport is north east, I can’t help myself:

“Ok, I don’t mean to question you,” I interrogate ask calmly, “but why are we going this way? Ontario Airport is off the 60 freeway, since when do we go this way to get to the 60?”

“Ontario? You said nothing about Ontario!” He answers, “We always fly out of Long Beach!”

He quickly turns around and we try to “laugh” it off, after all we did leave a little early. I’ll be gone over a week; now is not the time to argue over something so silly.

He turns and says, “I’m ready for my sausage biscuit now” as I look down at the empty wrapper in my lap, chewing the last bite in my mouth, I guiltily realize that I was in such a hurry I ate his sandwich instead of mine.

“Oops! I still have the McMuffin… (insert scrunchy face)”

He is so bummed! “I don’t want the English muffin, I was really looking forward to the biscuit.”

I_really_feel_terrible, but I look at the time and we’re now 30 minutes behind schedule. I rudely tell him to stop acting like a child and we can’t stop to get him another one. Wow! That turned bad really quickly. Insert foot in mouth!

I apologize.

We arrive safely at the airport. We unload my two suitcases, one carry-on, my diaper bag/personal item, stroller, carseat, and a munchkin. We kiss and say good-bye. I check in.

After a long wait through the security line it’s finally our turn. I hate this part! Since the first time I traveled alone, at 15 years old, I get randomly searched every time I fly somewhere. No surprise, they pull me aside wipe my hands to test for unnamed “residue” and sure enough the alarm goes off. They take us to a private room. I unstrap Daniel from my carrier and place him in the carseat. I get pat down. All clear! This is why I don’t eat fast food! The only thing on my hands from that morning was the food I ate, and it was so greasy it set off the security alarms; disgusting!

Now, it’s waiting time. I went to the desk to find out how full the flight was and they told me there was one seat left, but I was seventh on the standby list. The sweet ladies asked why they didn’t put me on the flight that left 30 minutes prior? I kindly said I wasn’t sure, but inside was screaming, “If they didn’t make me get searched from head to toe for 30 minutes maybe I would’ve made it here sooner!!” It wasn’t looking promising, but we decided to pray instead of worry. Regardless of my negative human internal dialogue, I was confident we would get on because I know how cool God works, but He does tell us to ask Him to intervene, so I did.

An hour later I hear my name called. We got a ticket. “Thank you Jesus that in spite of my horrible attitude and desire to control everyone else when I can’t even control myself, you allowed me to get on this flight so I can go see my mom.”

We board the plane trying not to hit people in the head with my bags as we squeeze through the tiny aisle to find we we’re given a middle seat; at least we got on!!

Fortunately to my right was a nice lady, who I quickly learned was a mother of two teenage girls, and to my left was a young guy in college.

We take off with ease. The little man does great through the take-off and is just hanging out by my feet reading books and exploring everything around him. It’s now time for the lovely flight attendants to bring beverages and snacks. The lady next to me and I decline, knowing they would get knocked all over us by my little investigator, but the guy next to me orders his ginger ale.

“You probably shouldn’t put your drink there,” I warned him, “He will grab it!” “Oh thats ok.” He assures me.

Within seconds there’s soda all over the poor guys lap…I felt so bad, but…I warned him!

Breathe! We arrive at our first destination, Seattle, get lunch, change planes, and a quick hour flight later head to baggage claim in Boise and are greeted by my mom “Grandma Linda.”

Let the vacation begin! The anticipation of a relaxing week did not disappoint! We had such a great time! I hadn’t seen most of my mom’s side of my family in almost five years. It was so refreshing to catch up after so long. We watched football, played in the snow, ate good food with good company, saw life-size ice sculptures, fireworks as good as Disneyland, and so much more.

We finished our trip with a quick stop through Northern California to see my sisters and nieces and aimed home early the next morning.

I am so refreshed!

On the flight back the little man passed out in my lap and I started to read Dr. Kevin Leman’s “Stopping Stress before It Stops You”. How fitting! So far I’ve learned (paraphrased), life doesn’t give us stress, it gives us pressures, and whether we handle the pressure appropriately or not will determine if we have stress.

This information would have been helpful prior to the beginning of my trip, but now that I’m rejuvenated and have a clear head, I’m excited to learn different tools to apply in this next season life is taking us into. The first tool is having the right perspective. Onward I read…

Until my Munchkin’s next nap time: I encourage you to evaluate your perspective. I hope you’re able to step back and look at your circumstances, better than I did, and choose to breathe through them and smile, instead of getting easily frustrated. I encourage you to rid the negative self-talk, and rather than running from life’s disheveled circumstances, laugh and embrace the crazy!

What are some of your crazy travel stories? Any advice for a mom that will always be on the go?

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