Thursday, May 28, 2009

Family Vacation

This post is coming to you directly from East Tennessee, folks, the heart of the Smoky Mountains. David, the kids and I are on what you might call a family vacation.

You might call it that but I’d urge you not to. Using the word “vacation” to describe the temporary relocation of oneself and one’s progeny in pursuit of diversion is a little misleading. I don’t think I’ve ever been on a real vacation with the kids. We’ve had lots of adventures against many different backdrops. We’ve licked gelatos in front of the Pantheon, we’ve whizzed over the Golden Gate Bridge, we’ve frolicked on beaches and mountainsides and crooned in rental cars and played tag in airports in many a city across this country. But was it a vacation? No, my readers, it was not.

A vacation is anything you do without the children. Like, for instance, when David and I went to get our teeth cleaned and sat in examination rooms that were across the hall from each other, that was a vacation. We got to chat a bit on the walk over, made provocative gestures across the hall to each other before the dental hygienists arrived and then we kissed with clean, slightly-sore mouths afterwards, and compared the sample mouthwashes we’d received. That was a vacation. Taking two kids under four on an airplane is no vacation. Period.

And listen, David and I are pros at air travel with the kids, because we’ve been doing this trip to Tennessee a few times a year since Primo was a few months old. So we know what we’re doing. I pack enough snacks to keep a small village fed for a week, including a secret stash of lollipops in case we run into unexpected delays or mishaps. I pack little presents purchased from the dollar bins at Target and wrapped in magazine pages, which prolongs the enjoyment of each item by a good minute. Coloring books, regular books, Play doh, magnets, stickers – my carry on is like a carnival of fun for toddlers and preschoolers.

I also have one other very important but challenging trick up my sleeve when we travel on planes with the kids. It is the most critical, the key element to successful air travel, the missing puzzle piece, the thing you cannot do without. It is . . . .

The first-ever mom amok cliffhanger! I warned you I was getting into some tantric shit. To find out, dear readers, you will have to tune in tomorrow. Or if you’d like, feel free to guess in the comments section. I will award whoever guesses the correct answer with one perfectly fresh New York bagel, type of your choosing, sent directly to your home. Cream cheese and lox to be added on your own.