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.

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Claire
Claire
13 years ago

Great decision, I think! You can take the subway almost anywhere in DC (and definitely from National Airport to all tourist locations), so I’d look into that before lugging a carseat across the country – those things are heavy. Enjoy – I think he’ll remember it, and if not, this experience will most definitely shape other memories!

Felicia
Felicia
13 years ago

We like our umbrella stroller… I can’t remember the brand but it was about $40 at Babies R Us… Several friends told us that the cheapies (i.e. under $20) are total crap and fall apart randomly, so we went with the slightly more upscale one.

beach
beach
13 years ago

LSD dosed martian, I love it….you are going to have a blast!!!

victoria
victoria
13 years ago

Preparing him is key. Tell him what to expect at the airport, at the baggage carousel, in security, in the lounge, on the plane. Helping him to understand what’s happening will help him to be confident and happy, instead of overwhelmed and needy. (No, I don’t have any kids, but I remember finding airpors to be TERRIFYING when I was a kid. I had no idea what was happening, why my mother kept disappearing, why we were stanindg where we were, why we were walking down these loooooong hallways, why we seemed to have to keep geting permission from tehse official-looking people who seemed to have the power to cancel our trip at any moment, why we were being treated like criminals and having our bags searched . . . . all of it was terrifying. I really wish some adult had told me what to expect ahead of time and I wouldn’t have been on the brink of tears the whole time.)

honeybecke
honeybecke
13 years ago

Hooray for you guys! I think it will be great fun. Most cab companies will send a cab with a car seat/booster if they don’t already have one in the line up of waiting cabs. Or you could be all fancy and hire a car. Oooo!

danielle
13 years ago

You made the right choice! I still “remember” my 4th birthday party at Ferrell’s Ice Cream Shop. What I actually remember is the photos that I’ve seen at various times in my life. Those are enough of a memory for me to know that it looked like a lot of fun.

Mimi All Me
13 years ago

This sounds like so much fun. I would jump at an opportunity to do something like this with just my 3-year-old… special mommy and big boy time! And I betcha he will remember a good bit of it for a long time.

teralyne
teralyne
13 years ago

Sounds like a very good idea to me, have fun.

nonsoccermom
13 years ago

I think you’ll have a great time. And you’re right, kids can remember the strangest things. I’m always shocked at how good my son’s memory is for stuff that seemed like a non-issue to me.

Amy
Amy
13 years ago

Yay! I’m so glad you are going. It’s just so sweet. Also, it’s not just about the remembering of the specific experience but about how the experience will shape him, help him develop and bond with you. One great thing that happens might be the result of another great thing that happens, you know? Also, I remember my 2nd birthday party to this day and how wonderful it was!

kirida
13 years ago

I think you’ll have a blast. I totally disagree that a trip is not worth it if he’s not older enough to remember. Even if he doesn’t remember all the details, it’ll build his character and he’ll had all these added layers of happiness in his brain and can you imagine what an awesome kid he’s becoming thanks to a wonderful mother like you?

Traci
Traci
13 years ago

Have a great time! My 4 yr old’s favorite thing in the Air and Space Museum is the awesome movie- Cosmic Collisions- you lean back in your seat and the entire ceiling is the screen for the projection. He told me he wished he could go there everyday.

g~
g~
13 years ago

Can you not just ride the Metro after arriving in DC? Might make the car seat situation a moot point. Of course, it would SUCK to have to haul child and various child-detritus onto the Metro but my kids LOVE riding in “trains”. Just a thought.
g~

Sagey
Sagey
13 years ago

Excellent choice! I have traveled quite a bit with my kids and you will be surprised what troopers they are. Some airplane tips, have something munch or a filled sippy cup to eat/drink on landing and take off to help clear the ears. (You cannot take a filled sippy cup through security but get something on the otherside or when you board ask a sweet attendant to fill it for you). Also find some cool thing for him to do for just the plane ride and you can pull out the new toy at opportune times. :-)

Yes, the cheapo umbrella strollers are not worth it. My favorite stroller ever was the Maclaren umbrella type one (can’t remember the name of it). It is so light weight, folds up to the size of an umbrella stroller, has a shoulder strap AND it reclines). I am usually a huge cheapskate but that one was worth every penny.I would have gone with the Combi version of it but my 6ft 2inch husband kicked the back of it and refused to push it if I purchased it. Even if your child won’t sit in it, you can use it as a luggage cart. :-)

Have a fabulous time and he was SOO remember it all! :-)

Jenny
Jenny
13 years ago

Sounds like an awesome trip! Just please, if you do bring a stroller, DON’T bring it on the escalator in the Metro stations. You will get seething glares of death from DC residents, who are entirely capable of plowing over you if you don’t stand on the right side. I say this as a former DC resident who shot said looks at many a tourist as their Humvee-sized stroller kept me from catching the train to work.

Also, if you have time, try Booeymonger’s or Moby Dick in Georgetown. (Sandwich shop and kebab shop, respectively.)

*sigh* I miss DC, can you tell?

hanna
hanna
13 years ago

Hey, won’t you need the carseat for the plane? I thought they were required for kids (over two) still using them in cars? If so, I recommend http://www.zoomda.com/ProductDetails.asp?ProductCode=1004-UNIQR&click=32.

kalisa
13 years ago

Photos help children remember a lot. Elijah (15) often remembers things like trips from when he was very young, but we’ve got photo albums full of those events that keep the memory alive.

I think this will be unbelievably memorable for you both.

Ashley
13 years ago

Glad you’re going! Even if he doesn’t remember it, who cares you will :)

ritchiewoman
13 years ago

Excellent – you’ll have a great time. And you may want to get him a video called The Big Plane Trip. C watching the train one obsessively, so I assume the plane one will be just as fascinating to a preschooler. And you know what? All the things you will worry about between now and then won’t happen, and the one thing you didn’t think of WILL, and it will still be okay because you’re a great mom with a great kid.

Sunny
Sunny
13 years ago

Way to go!

thejunebug
thejunebug
13 years ago

My point in Riley not remembering was more that, if you thought that was the only reason you should go, you might not do it. As I said I think you should go for it and I think you’ll have fun. ;)

Re: the carseat. My sister swears by it; she said it was easier for her kids to think of it as a long car trip if they had the carseat to sit in. She “commuted” from Africa to the US every six-eight months while her kids were infants/toddlers, until the youngest was 3.

Riley’s suggestion of a “tiny tv” = awesome! iPod win!

monkey
13 years ago

I’m surprising myself with how jazzed I am for your kid.

ChelseaLI
ChelseaLI
13 years ago

I’m totally jealous.
I’d love to spend a night at the museum!
Sounds like an awesome time.

Sarah @ BecomingSarah.com

I think most cab companies keep car seats handy, so looking into that might be an option.

Wendy Wisniewski
13 years ago

As an ex-DC resident with two small boys there – we (probably unsafely) never used a car seat in a cab. What are you gonna do with it when you get out at your destination? So, while you might want one for the plane (which we also never used and we used to make the 14 hour trip to Tokyo pretty regularly from the time they were 2 and 4), you don’t want to lug one around for cab rides. DC’s pretty compact so you won’t be in the car for long. Have a great time. DC is Wonderful!

warcrygirl
13 years ago

He may not remember the trip in its entirety but you never know if one part of that trip excites him enough that it will stay with him forever. Who knows? Maybe he’ll grow up to be an airline pilot or a museum curator or what have you. I can’t wait to hear about the trip!

Kim
Kim
13 years ago

I love my $20 toysrus umbrella stroller. It may fall apart eventually, but it’s been totally worth it. Order one to be delivered to your hotel, and then donate it to the housekeeping staff. :) Also, if you fly into National at a decent hour you might consider taking the metro and avoid the whole booster seat issue altogether. YAY for big trips!

Rowen
Rowen
13 years ago

What did you think of the Series Finale of BSG?

Eric's Mommy
Eric's Mommy
13 years ago

So glad you decided to go! The trip sounds so cool.

Katherine
13 years ago

I ditto what folks said about the car seat. Not worth it if you’re just in a few cabs. A good umbrella stoller would be a good investment, at least if he does’t ride in it you can push your crap there.

Most importantly, invest in a portable DVD player or use your laptop to let him watch 100 hours of Dora or Diego on the plane. Worth it.

Allison
13 years ago

Since you mentioned BSG, what did you think of the finale? I don’t remember seeing a detailed description of what you liked/disliked about it and since you’re the one who got me and my husband hooked, I’m wondering what you thought.

cbrks12
cbrks12
13 years ago

Doesn’t matter if he remembers it, you will! And your pictures and the words to go with them will always be there for both of you.

Carrie
13 years ago

I’m with cbrks12 – he won’t remember it, but you will. And the experience of watching your child respond to something fantastic and new – mostly pretty awesome!

I applaud you for going for it! The flight may be a big stinker, but there is much to look forward to both on the journey there, and on the journey home.

Best of luck with it.

Carrie
13 years ago

And I just noticed you’re researching the CARES device for the plane – we have one, and it is fairly okay. I got it when my son was younger and I was still having crazy anxiety about air travel without any restraint. Bottom line, for close to $90, you might want to just invest in a better umbrella stroller that may hold up for Dillon as well.

Allison
Allison
13 years ago

When I lived in NYC my friend had this for her young toddler. It’s not cheap but perhaps you might have further use for it? I’m not 100% sure how big a kid it fits but I know it was a LIFEsaver when my friend and I were out and in and out of cabs etc. It’s also approved by the FAA for inflight use.

http://www.amazon.com/SitnStroll-5-n-1-Combination-Carseat-Stroller/dp/B000F0G0EK/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=baby-products&qid=1238632184&sr=1-1

aimee
13 years ago

Great decision! This is the best time of the year to visit DC. The weather should be lovely. You can definitely count on the Metro if your hotel is close to a stop. We recently had a much easier cross-country flight when we checked the carseat rather than have our 3yo sit in it. (We had to bring it b/c we were going to San Diego and would be taking many car trips upon arrival.)I know the most safe thing to do is the carseat, but he was so much more comfortable (and was able to sleep) when he could cuddle with (really, sprawl out on) me. If you need any DC-specific help/suggestions don’t hesitate to contact me!

Christina
13 years ago

Yeah for you two! I think kids remember more then we give them credit for and also I think it expands their little minds even if it is not a strong memory. We travel a lot with the little ones and every time we take them on a big trip they come back changed, for the better. It is like all the change and stimulation made them grow. It is crazy. It will be a fun adventure and maybe the start of family tradition! I cannot wait to hear all about it!

wealhtheow
13 years ago

You’ll have a wonderful time! feel free to contact me with any DC questions.

Lisa
13 years ago

Carseats are not required for planes, and I’ve never lugged one with me for that purpose. As for cabs – well, they aren’t required for cabs either, which makes no logical safety sense, but I guess without this clause parents all over manhattan would have carseats strapped to their backs as they walked through NYC. Are you flying into National or Dulles? You could borrow a carseat from us if you’re going through dulles -we are close by!

Mika
Mika
13 years ago

I second the opinion someone had on the CARES — though I really loved it for my son when he was a bit younger (like 1-3 years). But if you like the idea of the security of a fourpoint harness, it really does the job for in the plane (not for use in cars though) and takes up almost no room in your carryon. Now that my son is four I don’t bother using it anymore. And I’m psyched you are researching umbrella strollers because I need advice on that too! Can’t wait to read what people have to say.
BTW, in my experience, sticker books are also very useful on planes to keep kids distracted. And of course iphones with kids games on them :-)

TheGoriWife
13 years ago

No carseat or booster is required on the plane, and the regular seatbelt keeps my 28 month old contained just fine because he knows he’s not allowed to unbuckle it. Car seats aren’t required in cabs here either. (I KNOW!) But a booster wouldn’t be all that hard to pack into your luggage if you were fine with no-booster on the flight and checked it in with the luggage. My all time best advice for flying on planes is to give then small crappy toys one by one, and once they’ve tired of them, give them the barf bag. My kid spends 30 minutes min. each flight putting said already-bored-of small toys into and out of said barf bag. Then let him stand up in the seat and make faces at the people behind him. There’s bound to be someone back there willing to stick out their tongue at him.

TheGoriWife
13 years ago

Oh, and I’m five minutes from Dulles if you need anything while you’re here. (I know you used to live in/probably still have fam. in Manassass, but should you find yourself in need of random, anonymous internet help, I mean…) Feel free to email for background/criminal history requests!

Alyson
13 years ago

That sounds like a blast. I always tried to do individual things with each of my kids when they were little, so they felt a little special once in a while.

BTW, I’ll be in DC May 12 through 17. If that’s the same time frame as the event, and you need an extra “mommy” (OK, older Auntie, give me a break – I’m STILL 27 in my mind), give me a shout out. I’ll have some free time, and by about mid-week, I’ll likely be a bit “kid-needy” (Lord knows why!).

Stacy
13 years ago

Alprazolam for toddlers is called BENEDRYL and don’t be afraid to use it. Also, lots of coma-inducing snacks.

EvenFlo makes a $40 umbrella stroller that I lug around on airplanes and squash into my truck. It works great and it is gets ruined, $40 … it’s no MacLaren but honestly, who needs all that jazz?

I live in DC (ish, Maryland to be exact). I am pretty sure you can have a kid toddler sized in the back seat of a taxi and not be in a booster seat. I know, semi-safety hazard, but legal – still. Or you know, fly in National Airport and take Metro into the city? Website: http://dctaxi.dc.gov/dctaxi/site/default.asp

Genie
13 years ago

I’m glad you guys are going. It should be fun!

Nic
Nic
13 years ago

As someone who flies regularly and does not have children but sits near them, I would bring the car seat. They aren’t required on planes for kids over two (also, in a previous life I was a child passenger safety technician) but there are a couple of BIG advantages: he’s used to sitting in one,he knows that he has to sit in it and that he can’t get up and walk around and explore; It’s actually a more comfortable seat for him since his legs will be able to bend and he won’t be fidgeting as much; it’s more comfortable if he falls asleep and has a place to rest his head and hold him upright; if he does find the plane scary, it’s a piece of comfort and he will feel safe. It may be annoying to lug with you but worth it in the end.

A few other things: prepare him for going through security and taking his shoes off, bring new activity type toys that he’s never seen before and snacks he loves but doesn’t usually have. Don’t worry too much, even if he gets ticked off and starts screaming, if you are trying to get him to stop and distract him, people will understand (worst comes to worst, you buy them drinks).

Nic
Nic
13 years ago

And duh, one other point. I’m in DC for work right now and there’s not a chance in hell I’d trust the cabs to come up with a reasonable car seat. (hell, I got into a cab in Philadelphia this morning that didn’t have the female end of the seat buckle.)

Ellen
13 years ago

Glad you decided to go, you will not regret it (um, famous last words). Or maybe I am saying that because I am STIR CRAZY and the thought of going anywhere, anywhere at all, so appeals.

Elle
Elle
13 years ago

I just love your humor Linda.
When I was Riley’s age I went with my grandmother, uncle and aunt on a trip that to this day I remember.
I remember rocking a relatives baby, the tea we had in the morning and afternoon, I remember my uncle fishing and barbecuing the fish and I was 4 yrs old.
I also remember the car ride, and back in those days in Eastern Europe we didn’t have car seats, I remember laying down on my grandmothers lap and sleeping.
I remember when my cousin was born and I sneaked up inside his nursery to hold him. I has just turned 4.
Kids remember so much, and if by some chance Riley does not remember, YOU WILL. It’s worth it. Go, have fun with your son and enjoy yourself.