Of Mice and Men

Jan 10 2011

Ah, the blessed sound of snoring children.

A perfect end to a busy day.

We did it!

We made it to California with three kids in tow, and we hit Disneyland for 2 hours before bedtime.

Traveling with small kids is never easy, but always entertaining.

I’ve traveled enough that I have some tricks up my sleeve.  In the Unsolicited Travel Tips category, I offer you this list of items to pack for plane trips with little ones:

  1. Teeny, tiny bottles of bubbles.  You know the kind you get at weddings that are almost impossible to open?  Yeah – that kind is perfect.  You can pack those without worrying that the kids are going to open them (they can’t) or that they’ll explode in your luggage (you should double-bag them now that I’ve opened my big mouth).  Anyway, small kids LOVE bubbles.  With bottles that tiny, you can’t make a big mess and the bubbles all stay contained to your set of seats.
  2. One bag of mixed-color pipe cleaners.  I keep the pipe cleaners and make my kids order things from me.  That really stretches it out.  Can you make a dog, Mom? Absolutely.  Will it resemble a dog?  Not at all.  No one cares.  After they get their hand-made pipe cleaner item, they can mash it, morph it, turn it into whatever they want.  I can’t tell you the infinite ways kids can make up stories about a bear, a flower, a heart, a car and a shoe.  (Make sure you bend over the ends before you start creating… they can be too sharp otherwise.)
  3. One roll of Scotch tape.  Did you know that the airplane magazine is yours to keep?  It is.  So you can really go to town on that thing.  You can rip out actual pictures from the magazine.    You can identify letters, colors and numbers.  You can make snowflakes and paper dolls.  You can make pages into shapes.  You can’t bring scissors, so you have to do all of it with tearing.  Which is loads of fun and makes the paper dolls really interesting.  Then, with your tape, you can decorate your seats.  We’re always back in coach when we fly…  not so sure they’d take well to tape all over leather seats, but tape is easily removed from cloth seats.  Tape is also really cheap and kids almost never get to waste a whole roll, so they’re already into your plan the second the tape comes out.
  4. An empty gallon zip-lock bag.  Do your flight attendants a favor and clean your space before you leave.  I’m convinced this is the only reason they’ll let my family back on a plane.

This trip, however, was a fly-by-our-seats experience.  I didn’t do any of my usual packing.  Which explains why my husband’s on his way out of the room to find an all-night grocery store so he can buy pull-ups for Cael before he wets the bed tonight.  Oops.

We also didn’t manage to bring the tape, the bubbles or the pipe cleaners.  Fortunately, we made it onto the two-hour non-stop flight to Los Angeles so we weren’t stuck with a marathon round of entertainment.

Here’s what we did instead:

Cael practiced his Airplane Seat Calisthenics routine.

You want to know who was sitting right in front of my twins with this routine going on?

First, say you don’t believe in miracles.  Go ahead.  Say it.  I dare you.

A MOTHER OF FOUR-YEAR-OLD TWIN BOYS.

If anyone’s going to be able to take sitting by my kids, it’s a mom who’s living on my planet.

If you don’t believe in miracles now, I give up.  There’s nothing more I can say that will convince you.

She called my boys charming and well-behaved.  I asked her to be my best friend.

After the calisthenics were done, I read the entire safety instruction booklet aloud to Cai and Cael.  Entire.  Cover to cover.

We discussed every picture.  We talked about how to hug our knees when we’re getting ready to crash.  We talked about what to do if the plane catches fire.  We talked about how to get our life jackets out from under our seats and deplane in the event of a water crash. (FYI, they call these water “landings”… water landing, my big aunt Fanny.  If I’m on a plane and it’s in the water, I’m getting crash credit.)

Cai and Cael loved it.  The safety booklet is their new favorite book.  They were sad that we couldn’t take it with us.  Cai was also sad that he didn’t get to wear a yellow oxygen mask or use his seat cushion as a flotation device.  I couldn’t convince him that not crashing was a worthy trade-off.

Boys.

We arrived in California hungry.  Even though I’m a fantastic snack packer.  (OK, fine.  My 12-year-old packed the snacks that my husband bought at the store.  But I put M&M’s on the list… does that count?)

After organizing everything in our hotel room, including a drawer for each kid’s stuff (all on top of each other so they can push and shove and slam each other’s fingers in the process — I’m so clever), we went to get food.

I don’t really know why I bother taking kids to places like Disneyland.  They were entertained plenty by the airplane and In-N-Out.  We could’ve gone home happy after our burger dinner.  Did you know that they give kids STICKERS and HATS at In-N-Out?!  Me, either!  It was like Christmas.

Before leaving home, hoping that we would actually make it to this destination, I packed the kids’ Disney sweatshirts and Mickey Mouse Ears.  They’re adorable and perfect for photos.  I mean, seriously, how cute is this?

That was two years ago.

This is Cael entering the park tonight.

Yep, in his In-N-Out hat.  He wouldn’t take it off.  And, I admit, I didn’t try very hard to convince him since I found it hilarious.

Besides, if the Big Cheese doesn’t care…

…then I’m good.

Good night y’all, and thanks for keeping me company.