Tir­ing out a tod­dler

Maryland Independent - - Classified - By Me­gan John­son

We all miss our beds when away from home — but tod­dlers take it to an­other level.

Be­fore kids, Spencer and I would of­ten get away for the week­end or travel last-minute to visit fam­ily or friends. I thought noth­ing of pack­ing a tooth­brush and hit­ting the road. Af­ter be­com­ing par­ents, of course, that changed en­tirely; it was just too com­pli­cated and stress­ful to be away from home (and all of Oliver’s stuff).

The first few times we trav­eled with our young son, I be­gan pack­ing far in ad­vance. My own travel rou­tine was so old hat that I barely con­sid­ered what I might want; it was all about pre­dict­ing how many di­a­pers we’d need, one­sies we’d go through, bot­tles we’d use. I was the epit­ome of a ner­vous first-time par- ent, and some of those jit­ters oc­ca­sion­ally nag at me.

Still, Oliver took his first short plane ride at four months old and an­other last Christmas. The first was a breeze. The sec- ond still gives me night­mares. We’ve flown nowhere since, and that’s no ac­ci­dent.

To be hon­est, fly­ing with an in­fant was prob­a­bly 100 times eas­ier than fly­ing with a tod­dler now would be. Oliver does not sit still, and it takes mas­sive amounts of bribery with Teddy Gra­ham cook­ies and his fa­vor- ite books to keep him seated for more than two min­utes. That would def­i­nitely be no prob­lem on a cramped air­plane.

When we’re home, this isn’t an is­sue. My hus­band and I re- moved any­thing overtly dan­ger­ous months ago, and Ol­lie has his run of the down­stairs. Be- cause be­ing a par­ent re­quires con­stantly scan­ning to de­ter- mine any way an in­ven­tive child might in­jure them­selves, I’m al­ways mov­ing things to high- er ground — but for the most part, Ol­lie keeps to his fa­vor- ite “spots” and doesn’t dis­turb much. (Aside from the Christ- mas tree, as we’ve al­ready ex- plored. But you get the idea.)

When we’re out and about, how­ever, this be­comes a chal- lenge. We took ad­van­tage of a long week­end in Oc­to­ber to meet up with my mother- and father-in-law in Bed­ford, Pa., where we wan­dered through craft fairs in the pour­ing rain and fought to keep Oliver in his stroller. The whole week­end was one long tus­sle. And when night fell? Well. In hind­sight, my thrifti­ness in want­ing to share a ho­tel room with my in-laws, hus­band and baby was not my bright­est idea. But I fig­ured it would only be for two nights, would save us some cash . . . and how aw­ful could it re­ally be?

I knew we were in for trou­ble when Oliver was still tear­ing through the ho­tel room at 9 p.m., laugh­ing loudly with wide eyes. He had just taken his first steps a week or two ear­lier and was ob­sessed with learn­ing to run. He’s fast — es­pe­cially when he wants to get away from his ex­hausted par­ents — and I fig­ured he would just tire him­self out even­tu­ally. He didn’t. By 10 p.m., 11 p.m., mid­night, we were deal­ing with a tired-but-mis­er­able tod­dler who re­fused to sleep in his pack-and-play, a makeshift crib that is per­fectly com­fort­able but still not “his” bed. My mother- and father-in-law, typ­i­cally early to bed and early to rise, were just as sleep­less as we were.

It had been months since we’d trav­eled, but Oliver had done fine in July. At his grand­par­ents’ home. Where he was com­fort­able with his sur­round­ings, I sup­pose. But when we’d gone to the Outer Banks ear­lier in the sum­mer, Ol­lie would not fall asleep un­less he was in his car seat — a fact Spencer and I later at­trib­uted to teething and a de­vel­op­ing cold while also be­ing away from home. Poor guy was just out of sorts. That wouldn’t be re­peated, right?

Les­son learned in Penn­syl- va­nia. We even­tu­ally took Ol­lie out to the car some­time in the mid­dle of the night af­ter hours of him fret­fully fall­ing asleep for 30 min­utes in our bed only to wake up scream­ing all over again.

Ol­lie did even­tu­ally snooze — but only af­ter we’d cir­cled down­town Bed­ford for nearly an hour, the lone car mud­dling along the nar­row roads. I’m sur prised some­one didn’t re­port a sus­pi­cious ve­hi­cle to the po­lice. All Spencer and I wanted was to rest along­side Oliver, but we knew we couldn’t move him; those dark eyes would spring open if we tried to go inside.

We even­tu­ally parked in front of our ho­tel room and slept for an hour or two with the en- gine run­ning — just enough to reach 6 a.m., when my in-laws would be up and able to take over for a bit. It was rough.

I want to be the type of par­ent who en­cour­ages their child to adapt to his sur­round­ings, to be flex­i­ble, to roll with the punches. But we’re talk­ing about a not-quite-2-year-old here. There will come a time — quite soon — when Oliver has to learn to sleep away from his own bed, but that Oc­to­ber night was not it. We cut our trip short to make sure we were home by the fol- low­ing evening, and that kid slept like a log for 12 hours. He clapped when we walked in the front door.

This week­end is a fam­ily wed­ding in Get­tys­burg, Pa., and I’ve been look­ing for ward to our im­promptu re­union for months. I made reser­va­tions to stay one night at the swanky ho­tel where my cousin will be mar­ried long be­fore that Bed­ford week­end. In its af­ter­math, how­ever, I found my­self think­ing about go­ing through an­other sleep­less night with an in­con­solable Ol­lie . . . and af­ter de­bat­ing the pros and cons with Spencer, I can­celed our reser­va­tion. We’ll just drive up and back to­mor­row.

It’s not ideal — and def­i­nitely not the re­lax­ing night away I would have loved in my pre-par­ent­hood days. But you know what I love more than trav­el­ing? A happy kid. One who isn’t awake all night, dis­ori­ented and an­gry.

And with Spencer driv­ing, I might catch a lit­tle rest . . . es­pe­cially af­ter all the din­ing and danc­ing.

We’ll tire Oliver out yet.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.