Erma Bombeck once said that when you look like your passport photo, it’s time to come home. It’s good advice, but if I’d followed it, I think I’d have done a u-turn about an hour into our first major trip.
You see, we made the trek from our home in Canada to the south coast of England. And I did it with a toddler in tow.
Don’t get me wrong: my son behaved wonderfully. It’s just that he’s was a one-year-old.
It started out with a train ride to the airport. First, we had to reassure him that the huge metal thing that just came thundering into the station was not as scary as it seemed. Then came the baggage and baby ballet – a complicated dance which involved A) whisking our child out of the stroller B) folding the stroller C) swearing and hopping up and down because the stroller had mashed a hand D) grabbing the 10 kg bag of our clothes and toiletries, the 20 kg bag of laptops, my purse, the stroller, and the 450 kg bag which contained my son’s toys, diapers, food, clothes and books and then E) heaving them all onto the train while holding our toddler and F) whimpering our way to our seats, having destroyed most of our back muscles.
Next came the train ride, which was to take about three hours. This went something like:
ME: Okay, let’s get out the shape sorter.
HIM: Ga! [Sort, sort, sort, FLING!]
ME: Okay, how about the stacking ring?
HIM: Ya! [Stack, stack, stack, FLING!]
ME: Right. Okay, how about I read you this book?
ME: Okay, right then what about this?
ME: And this?
ME: Dear, how much further?
HUBBY: Oh, I’d say we’ve got about another two hours and fifty minutes.
This is not to say my husband didn’t do his fair share. He took our son for frequent walks up and down the carriage, a task from which he has yet to recover. This is because our son currently walks on his own with help, and that means my husband had to bend at awkward angle to hold wee little hands, trying to maintain his balance as the train swayed over track that hasn’t been repaired in twenty years. I’m still amazed they didn’t end up in the laps of the passengers in row four.
From the train we had to get to the subway. Unfortunately, we arrived in Toronto in late afternoon; thousands of cubicle workers were making their daily dash to the commuter trains. To say it was difficult to get three people, four bags and a stroller through these crowds would be an understatement. I now sympathize with those salmon that have to swim upstream.
From the subway (heave, push, shove) to the bus (struggle, grunt, wheeze) and at last, the airport. Here, having arrived the prescribed two hours before boarding, it took … five minutes to get through security. Please note there are exactly zero things for a one-year-old to do in an airport lounge. We resorted to walking him around the lounge to try to wear him out (“please sleep on the plane, please sleep on the plane…”). Thirty circuits later, we were exhausted; he was just getting warmed up.
And finally, the flight. Apart from the bad food, poor air quality, tiny seats and zero leg room, things were great. The best part was when the pilots misjudged the timing of turbulence. Just as we were in desperate need of a diaper change, they told everyone to buckle up. So we waited… and waited… and nothing happened. Off came the lights, and we dashed to the restroom. And *that’s* when the turbulence hit. For those of you eating lunch just now, I won’t describe what happened.
Only one thing spoiled our joy when we finally arrived at our destination: The thought that we’d have to it all again to get home. So I have just one thing to say to the scientific community:
Will you *please* hurry up and invent those transporter beams?