Two Weeks in KC, and a Helluva Return Trip

October 5, 2011 at 10:25 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments
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Have you ever been on a flight where something nutty happens and you can’t wait to tell whoever is picking you up this crazy thing that happened on your flight? Let me tell you, when you are the CAUSE of that nutty thing, it isn’t nearly as fun.

Let me preface this by saying Liam hates wearing the airline seatbelt. He’s perfectly fine being strapped into his stroller, on the bike seat, and in his car seat. But for some reason he hates that damn seatbelt on the airplane. The last three flights we’ve taken in the past couple of months the attendant has let him ride on my lap. But this time our attendant was a stickler for the rules, and she wouldn’t let up. As we were landing, she hovered until I got him strapped in – mind you, kicking and screaming like I was poking him with sharp sticks. He managed to wriggle free and climb into my lap, and sure enough she came by to nag me again that he needs to be belted in. She even said, “The plane can’t land until your seatbelt is on,” as if a two-year-old will listen to reason.

And I lost it. Like full on banshee scream-fest. I immediately felt horrible and apologized, then burst into shoulder-wracking sobs. On the plus side, I think I scared Liam straight. He spent the rest of the flight sitting quietly, eyeing me with concern and holding my hand. What a sweet boy I’ve got! The guy in the aisle seat next to me — bless his heart for putting up with two hours of toddler shenanigans followed by massive mommy meltdown —  offered me some sage advice after I’d calmed down. He asked if this was my first kid in that knowing way that grandparents have. Then he said, “At this age, if you win the battle today, you’ve won it for life. And if you lose the battle today, you’ve lost it today.”

As I left, the naggy attendant and I made amends, and several people approached to give me pats on the back or praise for how cute Liam was on our way to baggage claim. It’s amazing the kindness of strangers. I came home feeling physically deflated, like a spent party balloon. Two weeks in my hometown among friends and family made me feel intensely lonely upon my return to Florida. I took a much-needed nap, had a nice cry, and felt quite sorry for myself.

But this morning I awoke to find an email from one of my Florida mommy friends asking me to join her for a class at the Y on Friday. I felt immensely better. We took a bike ride in the afternoon, and I rediscovered all the things I love about my new hometown. Shorts weather in the fall. The swaying palm trees. The sunning geckos. Home feels like home again.

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As for our trip, we had a wonderful time! Liam really bonded with his cousin Evie. They played and played and played the first few days we were there. Liam especially loved playing with the dollhouse – the same dollhouse Jill and I played with as little girls, one that my grandfather made for us. We spent one morning at Deanna Rose feeding ducks, petting cows, and riding a pony. Actually, Evie did all those things while Liam watched. He’s grown wary of animals, among other things. (Slides, trains, people…)

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James joined us for a long weekend, and we had a great anniversary date night while Liam stayed home with grandma and grandpa. We had dinner at Genghis Khan (yum!) and saw Moneyball (snore!). It got great reviews, but for me it combined the two most boring subjects on the planet – baseball and statistics.

For week two I mostly hung out with friends, meeting for dinner or lunch on my own and meeting for play dates with Liam. We had mixed results with our play dates, and I’m glad I limited it to just a few. Liam’s still so shy with new people. I gorged myself at my favorite restaurants – Lucky’s Brewegrille (who incidentally took my favorite burger off the menu, but they still made it for me anyway!)

On the weekend dad and I headed to the zoo for an afternoon of adventure. But we were met by 10,000 girl scouts at the front gate, and we wisely decided to save the zoo for next year. Instead we took Liam to Union Station, where I think he had a much better time admiring toy trains in the relative peace and  quiet. I heart this photo:

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We had lunch at Fritz’s just before the lunch crowd hit, and Liam sat enraptured by the little trains in the ceiling delivering the food. Then we took him to the planetarium for the same preschool show I used to take him to in DC, the one with Big Bird and Elmo talking about the stars and learning Chinese. Last time he went, I remember thinking it was so cute when he’d point and say, “Elllmmmo!” and “Mooooon!” This time he talked through the entire 30-minute show in this weird stream-of-consciousness toddler monologue. “The moon! It’s going up! Big Bird! Elmo! They going around! I want to watch Monsters Inc. I like ice cream!” And so on. Non-stop. Hard to imagine eight months ago he was hardly talking.

I’m glad we stayed for as long as we did. Liam got very comfortable at grandma Julie and grandpa Mark’s house. He had plenty of time to play with Evie, copying her every move and utterance, hilariously. We took them for a walk, and it was so cute to watch her walk along the sidewalk, running her hand along the parked cars, and Liam following right behind her, arm outstretched to touch the cars, too. We had one night to play with Camden, his nine-year-old cousin, who intimidated him a little, but was super sweet getting out his old train set and laying it all out for the kids to play with. Liam pretty much ignored Milo, except to notice that, “Mommy’s holding Milo!” and five minutes later crying, “Mommy needs put Milo down!” Now we’re thinking 4 or 5 years between siblings might be a safe bet.

Sunday night mom and I went to see The Help while dad took a turn babysitting Liam. Mom and I really enjoyed the movie, and I think dad really enjoyed bonding with Liam. They watched Cars (again!), then he convinced Liam to try a movie not in his regular repertoire – Wall-E, one of dad’s favorites. About halfway through, Liam got a little sleepy, so he changed into jammies and brushed teeth. Then in typical grandpa fashion, he asked Liam if he wanted to go to bed or finish watching Wall-E. Guess which one Liam chose? But no bother – I told dad to keep him up as late as he wanted. I could use a morning to sleep in. And wouldn’t you know it, the next morning dad got Liam up and fed him breakfast for me! Then Liam strolled in to wake me up, proclaiming, “Mommy’s home!” Dad said Liam didn’t know I was even home from the night before, lol. I asked him what he wanted to do, and he said, “Want to watch Wall-E!” Seems he didn’t get to finish it the night before. This kid has a good memory.

I was sad to leave my family behind knowing we probably won’t see each other for awhile. It’s looking likely my parents won’t be able to make the long trek down to Florida this Thanksgiving, and my sister can’t really afford a trip down next year, either. But I’m hoping if I truly won the airplane seatbelt battle, I can make another trip to KC in the spring or early summer. And then, after my dad retires, my folks can drive down next Thanksgiving, stopping off along the way in the Deep South for some sightseeing.

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4 Comments »

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  1. I truly had a grand time being grandpa to so many at once. Nothing warms my heart more than having a child run half way through the house to jump in my arms at the front door yelling “Grandpa”…..or something like it. Liam actually did that a few times. I miss the little guy already. BTW…he looked fine when I last saw him at the airport. No sign of pending drama.

  2. Now that I’ve flown with the boys a few times, I wish I could go back in time to before I had kids and help or offer a kind word to every frazzled mother I ever saw on an airplane. It is hard!! Like you said, the kindness of strangers makes all the difference. I’m glad that you enjoyed your trip, and that you are optimistic about the next one, whenever it may be!

  3. Hahaha. This will help me remember my headphones when I travel. 🙂

    As you well know I was born without the motherhood gene; however, if he is fine with car seats, this begs the question to me of why not bring a car seat and let him sit in that with the car seat being strapped in with the offensive airline seat belt? I appreciate it would be more crap to lug through the airport, but certainly you are accustomed to being a Sherpa by now. Or lie about his age, don’t buy him a seat and keep him in your lap. There are some benefits to being small for one’s age.

  4. Camden can’t wait to go to Florida! We need to do our best to get there before he is too old to enjoy Disney World, and before Milo is at the age Liam is now. I guarantee I would banshee much sooner than you!


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