With all due respect to Arlo Guthrie, I wonder what is more stressful – flying cross-country solo with two children or running drugs. Actually, I jest, because with backpacks full of coloring and invisible ink activity books, new Hardy Boys mysteries, and stickers the boys amused themselves very nicely for the entire flight. Which was relatively smooth to my great relief (I think my fear of flying is still a secret).
None of us may have been taking drugs, but we were certainly all wasted with fatigue. We spent the night before in a hotel room near the Philadelphia Airport and as it was Teddy’s birthday, he was on a the high of turning five and kept Tommy and I awake a good part of the night – which was short anyway since we had to get up at 4:30 to get the shuttle. Still hopped up on birthday happiness, he told everyone on the bus – a surprisingly jolly crowd given the early hour – that the day before was his birthday and that he was “sooo much bigger and sooo much faster.” Then he told everyone he could on the plane, as well as the guy working at Starbucks in LAX, the woman behind us on the escalator, the man behind the desk at the rental car company…
We arrived in Los Angeles early and within an hour had our bags and rental car and were on the road. We drove to Rancho Palos Verdes where great grandparents awaited the boys with much anticipation. If you’re ever in Los Angeles and have a chance to get out to this peninsula (just north of Long Beach and the port) take it. It was a perfect day and as we came down the hill toward their house, the ocean spread out before us and Catalina Island floating magnificently in the distance I almost burst into song. Of course that may have partly been because I was so tired!
I probably shouldn’t have planned for us to do anything that afternoon other than a nice family lunch, but the weather was so irresistible that I’m not sure I would have kept to that resolution had I made it. And who am I kidding? I’m almost always too ambitious. So we made a quick visit to the Point Vincente Interpretive Center just up the road. On a normal day this would have been just the boy’s speed. There is a small museum with exhibits about the geologic and human history of the Peninsula as well as a lovely little garden with great views of the nearby lighthouse. But exhaustion was catching up. Despite Grandma Sonia’s best efforts (she’s a docent) the boys were minimally able to focus on anything inside, although Teddy did really like the tide pool and kelp forest (both static exhibits behind glass). It really is a nice little museum and a good size for younger kids.
Our real reason for the visit was to try and see some gray whales as they migrated north. The crew of observers working there saw four in the morning. But despite some woozy attempts with binoculars, no whales for us. Just two crabby kids to pack in the car, which I did. We headed for Pasadena where we are staying on this trip.
So for the most part our cross-country jaunt went swimmingly. But there was one thing that happened on this trip that I’ve been dreading for the past eight years, and it’s made worse by the fact that it happened under my watch. Both of my children chose loveys when they were born that were irreplaceable. Tommy’s is a little doll/rattle (unimaginatively named Dolly) that came in a basket filled with bottles and burp clothes. Teddy’s is a customized teddy bear/blanket emblazoned with his name. After countless nights on the road – remember that Dolly came with us across two continents – I finally made the mistake of leaving a lovey, the precious Lovey Bear with whom Teddy has slept every night of his life, in our hotel room.
Exhaustion is no excuse here folks – I might as well have left one of the children behind.
I realized my error as soon as we boarded the plane and called the hotel before take-off. The nice woman promised to retrieve Lovey Bear and hold him for us until our return next week. I can’t tell you how much I’m hoping that she comes through. And Tommy valiantly offered to let Teddy sleep with Dolly for the duration of the trip, staving off sleepless nights while we’re on the road. But if Lovey Bear isn’t waiting for us in Philadelphia, well, I may just have to get on another plane to who knows where – I’m not sure I’ll be able to go home after that.
Tomorrow – touching real life sharks at the Aquarium of the Pacific. And a picture of me with a bird on my head.
(I’ll have practical tips and recommendations about flying out of Philadelphia Airport and into Los Angeles with kids in a later post).