Sunday, April 12, 2009

so...that happened

I love having kids and all that, but one thing that I don't think I'm going to stop being jealous of childless people for anytime soon is their ability to travel. Because no matter how cool you are and how well-behaved and flexible your spawn are, once you have kids, your days of traveling as you once knew them are over. When you have kids, your travel is not dictated so much by concerns such as where you would like to go or what you would like to do when you get there, rather how long the flight is, what kind of kid-friendly activities are available, and whether or not chicken tenders and french fries will be on the menu as a backup plan in case your kid decides to eschew the seared ahi tuna on a bed of wasabi-infused slaw. Before Joe and I had kids, Joe and I traveled. Not as exotically as some of our friends, and not as often as we would have liked, but we traveled, you know? We went to Japan, Hawaii, Europe. And after Cal was born? Florida, Florida, and Florida. Oh, and Atlanta.

The real shame of it is, even if you dump your kids on someone and take a grown-ups only vacation (something that we talked about but probably will not do anytime soon) it's still not the same as before. Because while you can then fly to Prague or Chile or wherever, in all probability we'd just spend our whole vacation missing those kids. And that would just ruin everything. Therefore, whether or not your kids are physically present or not, travel after kids is never quite the same.

So while I know that the hipster thing to do would be to hate on Disneyworld--the commercialism! The artifice! The cloying "Disney Princess" empire (which, with one minor exception, as parents of two boys we have luckily not yet had to accept into our household)--I have to say this: I LOVE DISNEYWORLD. Do you hear that, cool kids? I love Disneyworld. I don't know anything about its corporate policies or unfair hiring practices or creepy communist-leaning history, all I know is that it's one of the few places in the world where you can take a kid and almost everything--EVERYTHING--you can do will be enjoyable and appropriate for them. And that makes it fun for me. Because while I would love to take a trip to South Africa without having to worry about how many sticker books and Play Doh containers and Pixar DVDs worth of cartoons to pack for the flight, I love seeing my kid have fun even more than that.

The nine hours we spent on the road each way were no fun, of course. Cal actually did fine--we packed enough amusements to keep him busy, and at the end of it all, there was the "Cars" DVD on my computer, so why wouldn't he be fine? But Mack--Mack was not happy. At baseline, he is a baby that likes to be held, so being crunched up in the carseat for that long, regardless of how many rest stops we made...well, let's just say that it made me rethink our decision not to fly this year. And even after we got there, poor Mack still had to suffer through being dragged around everywhere like some kind of teddy bear, napping in the stroller, eating on the run, propped up on the nearest convenient lap while his brother went on one ride or another. Oh, the woes of the second-born.

Cal, on the other hand, had probably the best time of his life. Because did I mention that there was a ride wherein he got to drive a CAR on a RACETRACK by HIMSELF? Well, there was! And he thought he was the man! (Don't tell him: it was on rails. Shhh!) And there were fireworks EVERY NIGHT. And ice cream! And he tried a roller coaster for the very first time and didn't die! Oh, but good times were had.

So anyway, we had a good week. Thanks to everyone who e-mailed me road trip entertainment strategies, they were well-appreciated and employed. And now we're all settling back in--back to work, back to school, back to...whatever it is that Mack does during the day when I'm not here. But that's not all bad. It was a nice time, and a fun trip, but it's good to be home, too.

(See full collection of photos here.)