Verdict: I decided to RSVP that we’d be happy to go on the DC trip. My thinking is to plan for the worst, that way I will at least be prepared if everything goes tits-up and I find myself ball-gagging a 3-year-old mid-flight and shooting him full of elephant tranquilizers.

I am not without lingering concerns, of course, but I’m thinking above all how nice it sounds to do something together, just the two of us. Even if I end up regretting it, I can’t pass up the chance to have an adventure that’s all our own. So much of my time lately is spent distracted by my 14-month-old — chasing Dylan, trying to feed Dylan, pulling clumps of dirt out of Dylan’s mouth, attempting to calm Dylan down as he screams bloody murder about the mighty injustice of being restricted from the dirt-choking he so deeply enjoys — that I often feel like I barely get a chance to focus completely on Riley, and how awesome of a kid he really is these days. Sure, he sometimes causes my ears to firehose giant arterial spurts of blood and brain matter when he cranks up his Whine-O-Meter to full capacity, but on the rare occasions we’re out and about by ourselves it’s a real joy to be able to fully experience him for who he is right now: smart, funny, articulate, weird as an LSD-dosed Martian.

Some of you mentioned that he probably wouldn’t remember the trip and thus it might not be worthwhile, and while I know what you’re saying my feeling is that it doesn’t really matter to me if he’s unable to detail this trip with perfect clarity in his bestselling memoir someday down the road. He may not remember it when he’s older, but if that was the only criteria we used for providing our children with interesting or pleasant experiences, we’d just keep them in feces-filled cages for the first few years of life until they grew out of this miserable business of being so YOUNG and NEEDY and cramming DIRT in their mouths all the damn time, right? Okay, maybe not, but with little kids it is sort of about making happy moments when you can, with no particular expectations about the effects of doing so.

Also, I wouldn’t be surprised if he does remember it, because his memory has shocked me on more than one occasion. Recently we drove by a Bartell’s where I’d taken him with me at least six months back and bought, among other things, earplugs, and he pointed to it and announced, “Hey! There’s the earplug store!” Just two weeks ago we were talking about Easter and Riley described looking for eggs and how there were M&Ms inside the eggs, which is what we did last year. And strangest of all, maybe a year ago or more he told me about how we had once had Christmas at Uncle Joe’s house, which did in fact happen — when he was, like, 14 months old.

Nine times out of ten the kid can’t remember where he put his shoes, but he’ll turn around and describe with great accuracy the plot of a Curious George show he’s seen exactly once. You never know, is what I’m saying. Children’s brains are mysterious things.

I did talk to him about the trip last night and he was very excited, if a bit confused (“We will ride in a ROCKET to a MUSEUM!”). We talked about how planes are kind of loud and he decided he would bring his blanket to cover his ears, and he requested that we bring a “tiny TV” so he could watch old Battlestar Galactia episodes cartoons.

So! We’ll see, I guess. After all this pondering over things I’ll probably find out I’ve been bumped from the invite list. If we do end up going, I’m thinking I’ll need to get an easy-to-carry umbrella stroller, arrange for transportation that includes a booster seat (is this even possible? Don’t tell me I have to carry a carseat across the US for a freaking cab ride, please god), and a prescription for a large amount of alprazolam. For ME, of course. Come on, it’s not like I would carefully grind it into an undetectable powder and mix it with some apple juice and have it in a sippy cup ready to offer at the first sign of trouble, or anything.


83 Responses to “Tranq gun: loaded”

  1. Monica on April 1st, 2009 9:16 pm

    If you fly into Dulles I can meet you there and loan you a carseat for the week. I live about 5 minutes away. Lemme know how much he weighs if you’re interested. I have 3 different models!

  2. Monica on April 1st, 2009 9:18 pm

    PS My 2 year old does just fine in the plane with no carseat. When she IS in the carseat it makes it that much easier for her to kick the person in front of her for the entire trip.

  3. metalia on April 1st, 2009 9:29 pm

    I am embarking on a trip to Chicago with BOTH CHILDREN, SANS HUSBAND in early June.(He’s meeting us there. After a business trip to Vegas. This is me, attempting to containing my envy/rage.) It’ll be the first time either of the kids experience the wonder of air travel AND possibly, their mother acting like she doesn’t know them–you know, in the event they turn out to be The Whiny Children in Row 9.

    All of this to say that I am enjoying reading the comments from other, more seasoned travelers-with-kids, and can’t wait to hear about your experience (if you guys do end up going).

  4. spacegeek on April 1st, 2009 10:31 pm

    I suggest not bringing the car seat. We did for our twins when we went to Vancouver–what a royal PITA. Installing and uninstalling plus lugging. OMG. And then we ended up not using it in a couple of cabs–so they were awful to have after all. More luggage.

    Def have a portable DVD player tho. And bring more food than you think you’ll ever use on a plane. What if you are delayed on the plane? Snacks are really key.

    Also bring an entire spare set of clothes for you and Riley. Riley for any accidents, and you for any projectile vomiting. I forgot that part… spare clothes for kids, check. But then I had to sit in my disgusting vomit covered t-shirt and jeans. Oh joy. Also, no games with lots of little parts. They roll and then you have missing parts and a screaming child.

    Finally, if you don’t think you’ll use the umbrella stroller often except for this trip, go with the cheap one. Who cares if it falls apart? You can buy another one!

    My 2 cents.

  5. Lesley on April 1st, 2009 10:55 pm

    “Some of you mentioned that he probably wouldn’t remember the trip and thus it might not be worthwhile”

    Wow, that response from some blows my mind. All memory is subjective, to some degree distorted, and many of our memories, even as adults, fade. The point of experience isn’t the degree to which we remember, but how we are shaped. Wow, I’m so glad you see how silly this response was, and that achieving a memory isn’t the point.

    This is going to be a great opportunity for both of you and I hope you have tons of fun together. I know he’ll feel very special and important; and excited going on an adventure with his cool mom.

  6. April on April 1st, 2009 11:25 pm

    I was one of the naysayers, but I have to say that after reading everyone elses responses I changed my mind. You’re right that it’s a great opportunity to spend some one-on-one time with Riley. I hope all shit is contained, literally and metaphorically!

  7. Rachel on April 1st, 2009 11:27 pm

    Ahahaha. Cabs with car seats. That’s hilarious. While cab companies (and car rental agencies) do sometimes have carseats they are invariably of the sort that one generally sees poking out of the tops of dumpsters, only somewhat less clean and rather less intact. If riding around in a cab without a car seat is not your cuppa, then bring your own. It’s more comfortable than the airline seat anyway.

  8. deannagabriel on April 2nd, 2009 12:13 am

    YAY! this trip sounds so fun! glad you decided to go ahead with everything.

    and while i deal with children every day at work, i deal with them on midazolam and fentanyl and morphine drips so….. i dont really have any travel suggestions for you, with the exception of “you’re itchy, are you? i think some benadryl might help that riley!” ya know, as a “back up method” just in case. ;)

  9. Christy on April 2nd, 2009 12:30 am

    He may not clearly remember the trip when he’s older, but it will be a great adventure for him now. You could put together a small memory book with pictures and things from the trip to look through later.
    We traveled a lot internationally with my oldest when she was little. Pack light, bring a few tiny treasures to surprise him when he gets bored on the plane. Also, in my experience, doesn’t hurt to have a change of clothes for both of you on the plane.

  10. Amanda on April 2nd, 2009 4:42 am

    You’re going to have the best time!

  11. Liz on April 2nd, 2009 5:19 am

    Great decision. I think the two of you will have a great time. It’s amazing how different kids w/siblings behave when they have Mommy all to themselves.

    BTW, The CARES harness is a great product. We have one and used it for my then 2 yo last year on a trip to FLA. It is completely FAA approved and you can even print out the law (statute whatever) on their site to show a flight attendant who might not be familiar with it. That said on the flight we were on the staff didn’t even blink! The other passengers were fascinated when I attached it to the seat and commented on a what a great idea it was!

    Good luck!

  12. js on April 2nd, 2009 6:21 am

    Good for you! I’m sure you two will have a blast. For what it’s worth, I went on a vacation to Flordia when I was 3 and 27 years later, I STILL remember it. My daughter is 8 and she describes in great detail her vacation to Kentucky when she was 3 also. But, like Riley, she has no idea where her shoes are.

  13. Amie on April 2nd, 2009 6:23 am

    The trip sounds like a blast, and there’s a very good chance that Riley will remember it (not that it matters, it’s more about the experience for him anyway). My daughter remembers things from when she was two years old. She can describe them to me with incredible details, and she’s almost ten now. Sure, she may not keep those memories through adulthood, but you never know. I still have snippets of memories from when I was three or a little younger.

  14. karen on April 2nd, 2009 6:24 am

    So much planning and angst for one little trip. Hate to come at it from the perspective of a 60+ year old mother – but it’s not like you are throwing him in the back of a pickup truck and heading cross country…it’s a plane ride and a day-trip – and take my word for it – he WILL remember.

    Relax..have a good time….you will both survive.

  15. Christie on April 2nd, 2009 6:33 am

    Rather or not he remembers the trip he will ALWAYS have the wonderful pictures that you take of the experience and this does mean a lot. When I was a baby (5 months old) my mom and I and my grandparent went to the Upper Pennisula of Michigan over Labor Day to walk the Mackinac Bridge. To this day (32 years later) I hear the story of how my mom was pushing me in the stroller and I was happy as can be when my grandfather bent down to pick me up. They told him I was fine in the stroller and he said, “No, she seems fussy and wants me to carry her”, so he picked me up and carried me the 5 miles accross the bridge…and that picture of my grandfather and I is my favorite picture ever! Even though I don’t remember it, the picture and the story say a million words.

  16. Anais on April 2nd, 2009 6:39 am

    The earplug store!

    Oh, how I have laughed. He is so precious!

  17. Marie Green on April 2nd, 2009 6:41 am

    ooo, have so much fun! I love it out there and wish I was going too!

  18. Christine B on April 2nd, 2009 6:53 am

    I’m so glad you guys are going! Have a great trip!

    And, as others have commented….even if Riley doesn’t remember the trip when he is 16 and knows everything, YOU will. Memories are so precious, as you well know. Plus, the pictures. I *know* you’ll have some awesome pics!

  19. lumpyheadsmom on April 2nd, 2009 7:09 am

    CARES – have it, like it, think it’s worth it.

    Trip – yay. You’ll have a blast. “Sundry and Riley in DC” playdate?

  20. Mel on April 2nd, 2009 7:29 am

    Awesome!! Prep him, forget the carseat, and you will have an excellent time!

    And I agree that he will most likely remember it! Like you said they have amazing memories for experiences, but don’t ask them where they set the sippy cup down 30 seconds ago!

  21. pavz on April 2nd, 2009 7:57 am

    I took our 2yo home to Maui to visit my mother and sister last Oct and we had a wonderful time. She even listened to me when I explained that kicking the seat in front of her wasn’t an option. It was a wonderful opportunity for some dad-daughter time w/o distractions of younger sister, a very special time. And she remembers a lot about it.

    I think you’ll have a blast, even accepting that there will be moments (there always are — I spent 2 afternoon naps driving all over the island b/c that’s the only way I could get her to sleep). You’ll forget those moments and remember the best ones!

  22. CK on April 2nd, 2009 8:23 am

    We took our now 12 year old daughter to Disney World when she was 2 and she remembers pretty much the entire vacation. And what kids really will remember throughout their lives are all those times spent with you (and/or dad), wherever that might be – at the kitchen table for dinners or trips to D.C. ya know? I think Riley will always remember the trip, and even if he didn’t, he will remember time with you/bonding between he & you/etc..,

  23. Alyson on April 2nd, 2009 8:40 am

    Oh I forgot about travel toys! I used to carry around these magnet board things in my car (they fit into their own plastic sleeve and the board and the magnet shaps all fit neatly and FLAT inside it). #3 son was only allowed to play with it in the car or in places where I needed him to sit and be relatively quiet. Worked great. I think you can get them at the Lakeshore Learning store, or a store like it. They pack easily in carry on or diaper bag, and are all-in-one.

  24. Pam on April 2nd, 2009 8:49 am

    The GoriWife beat me to it — I’m five miles from Dulles, too, and I work in DC so I can be of help at both ends — and I’d still love to buy you the much-needed drink!

    If you fly to Dulles– Metro is not an option. You can… take a bus to the Metro but with a 3 y.o. and luggage, I’d suggest just getting in a cab. (or, calling me or The GoriWife for curbside pickup like you’re famous!!)

  25. Megan on April 2nd, 2009 9:38 am

    Most cities do not require car seats for a cab. Its considered public transportation, like a bus where they also don’t require them. You can probably check online and see what the rules are.

  26. Bianca on April 2nd, 2009 9:39 am

    Okay, based on what you described about Riley’s memory already I really think he will totally remember it. I had a pretty good memory as a kid and I know this sounds funny but I still remember memories I made when I was 3.

    Does this make sense? I don’t remember the actual event when my dad took me to Knottt’s Berry Farm when I was about 4 but I remember that as a kid when I would think back to that day, I would get so happy. So, now what I have are memories of memories.

    Maybe when Riley is 30 he won’t remember the whole trip but trust me, he will think about it when he’s 4.5, 5.5 and so forth so when he’s 30 he’ll remember having those thoughts.

    I think it will be an amazing trip. Preparation is key, but you guys seem to have pretty solid communication. I can’t wait to hear all about it.

  27. Alison on April 2nd, 2009 9:41 am

    Just lost in admiration for your bravery – thinking about taking the kid on an airplane, for any amount of time at all, makes my brain want to explode – oh, the hair-rending, heart-weeping agony.

  28. Keri on April 2nd, 2009 10:07 am

    i wouldn’t bother with the carseat on the plane. riley can buckle up like everyone else. in DC, you can take the subway from the airport to just about anywhere including the museum. don’t forget that umbrella stroller! =)

  29. Beth on April 2nd, 2009 5:40 pm

    You guys will have fun. It will be crazy but more fun than crazy I am certain of it. We took my 2 year old to Paris for Christmas (we live in Australia so it was like a 30+ hour trip) and while I am certain she won’t remember it the memories I have from it – all her joy that I captured in my heart and mind forever was worth a gazillion hours of crazy kid shit on a plane. Good on you!

  30. Back Nine on April 3rd, 2009 7:19 am

    Umm, if you have some of those elephant tranquilizers left after the trip, would you mind sharing? AL

  31. Aubrey on April 3rd, 2009 7:51 am

    See if you can fly into Reagan National Airport, because it’s right on the Metro system, and like someone else said, you may not even need the car seat. Also make sure you take comfortable shoes…you’ll be doing a lot of walking.

  32. jess on April 4th, 2009 10:40 am

    you do realize that memories aren’t for kids, right? they’re always for the parents. photographs, scrapbooks, and stories…all for us. so we remember. not them. they can barely remember to use the bathroom regularly.

    we live in gainesville, va (right next to manassas, and i totally know where sudley elem is…i interviewed for a teaching job there!)

    anyway. we go to dc all the time. i take my 4 and 5 year old to the vienna metro, hop on the train, and go to the mall. the cathedral. all the museums. at least twice a month. they love it, they learn from it, and i enjoy it. i make memories with them each time, and although they never remember those times, i always will. every time i will look at the capitol i’ll remember the time my son told me the dome looked like a boobie.

    and sorry for the lack of proper caps. the damn shift button on my laptop is broken and i’m too lazy to walk downstairs to the desktop.

  33. Christy on April 6th, 2009 4:59 pm

    My recommendation for an umbrella stroller:
    My son is about the same age as Riley, and that stroller has gotten us through many a plane trip, and everything else. And if Dylan can’t fit into it now, he probably will very soon.

    I think this is a fabulous opportunity for you guys, and I think he will definitely remember it. Good luck!

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