- Melbourne at dawn February 5 2012
Jr is developing his spoken category of communication. For the observer this can be many things including, cute, amusing, confusing and sometimes pretty darn funny. A few weeks ago he started saying cock and pointing. “Cock, cock, cock,” he exclaimed jumping up and down while pointing what seemed like nowhere! Somewhat embarrassed I tried to usher him along. What was he pointing at? What was he saying? Where did he learn that word? I was pretty sure it wasn’t from me. Periodically from then on this scenario would play itself out again, with me ushering him on until it stopped. The other day I figured it out when at home he started doing it again. He was pointing at the clock on the wall! He was saying clock and he was excited to show me what he had learned. What a relief! Now I know.
Jr and I are down under. That is right Australia! We came here to join up with Mrs. Daddio who is here working.
How do you sum up 24 hours airline travel with a 2 year old; fun, tense, frustrating, complex, intense, stressful, exciting? I guess that depends on how you look at the entire picture. Air travel, travel in general is difficult on everyone not just the wee ones. Who said that human beings were meant to zip around at 70 miles per hour in automobiles let alone at speeds far in excess of that when travelling by air? Yes it is true if we were meant to fly in the natural course of things than we would have been born with wings. It is a good thing then that humanity has become so adept at creating so many unnatural machines that allow us to jet here and there. That is what has created this wonderfully connected world for us not Mother Nature. Of course travel is tough on us our bodies just haven’t been designed for it. For a two year old toss everything else they are dealing with in the salad and you get quite the mix of variables.
For starters I need to go back to what I’ve been saying recently and yes children may be little versions of us but they are not little adults. They are living, breathing learning centers. Whereas some adults may be the same our main focal points in life are more competition, survival and anti aging in nature. They are where we once were and where more of us still need to be. Their bodies are still developing both micro and macroscopically and also not just externally but internally. We often ignore what we can’t see and we often ignore how the little ones are growing in ways we don’t see with our eyes. We’ve all seen or heard of adults wigging out in tight circumstances (road rage, things not going well on a flight, unexpected delays, long lines) and often right it off as upsetting or emotional but when a child has a difficult time with his or her environment it is generally thought of as behavioral. Maybe sometimes it is conditioning but generally speaking they are just emoting what their bodies are feeling too. They understand, rationalize and know less about their environment and when they act out against it more understanding is needed not less.
Jr is pretty good on the plane. Part of that is that he has plenty of experience flying. He even has his own air point collecting card. At 2 ½ he has already made at least 5 round trip air flights from the American Midwest to the Canadian western provinces or to the west coast. Top that with many car trips to southern Ontario, one to upstate New York and even one across the continent to Lake Tahoe and Jr is quite the seasoned traveler. I know many adults who have travelled far less. If adaptability is the true measure of intelligence than travel is one of the things that initiates adaptable learning. You can see that in adult populations where when little new perspective or fresh blood is available stagnation occurs. In populations where emigration is prevalent and multiculturalism is normalized new ideas, fresh thought and vibrancy flow like a mountain stream during spring melt. Hopefully Jr’s early life experiences and exposure to different cultures and geographies will help aid his adaptability curve.
Amazing to me is that he already understands the complex notion of air travel. He understands what planes do and that when he is in one that we are flying in the air. He understands that it is taking us somewhere. He understands landings and take offs and waiting in line. I am certain that he doesn’t understand intercontinental travel but then again why would he. Some adults still don’t believe in it. Some adults I have met have never left their area codes. Some adults are also quite childish!
Considering the 20 plus hours of air travel that we had coming here Jr handled things exceptionally well. He is famous for making friends with strangers especially young ladies. This trip was no different as the chatting up at security checks, waiting areas and in flight was status quo for the young fellow. When the lights go on so does he. He didn’t sleep on the Detroit to Los Angeles leg of our journey but technology in the form of his mother’s tablet loaded with children’s movies and applications designed for young minds kept him busy. It also kept him awake. Transfers at the big airport in Los Angeles are not exactly friendly to anyone who is not completely mobile. I may be able to haul 4 bags and a little guy all in excess of at least 150 pounds of awkwardness down flights of 20-40 stairs and onto a bus to take you to your transfer point but what about someone who is handicapped or even just less mobile than I? What about families? As it was for us even I enlisted the help of others kind enough to help. In this day and age big city facilities should have a better understanding of things. As it is that LAX air stop is kind of antiquated…and expensive. A bottle of water and a chocolate milk for Jr cost me $8.00! I guess that is what happens when you build one of the world’s largest cities in one of its resource poorest places.
Between 2am and 2:30 am our time Jr finally fell asleep. Our LA to Melbourne flight had boarded and we were taxiing on the runway. That is when Jr fell asleep. With 16 hours of air time ahead of us that may have been a relief. He ended up sleeping for 6 to 7 hours on and off. I was even able to eat some dinner then get up and stretch a couple of times. Getting that early part of the trip underway stress free certainly helped our situation some. After he woke he was good for a while playing in his seat but he was still tired. He played with the tablet and watched some TV that was set up on the back of the seat in front of him. After a while he wanted up on my lap. That is where he spent the rest of the flight snuggled in and fussing around on pop watching TV and banging against me. We had a good 6 hours plus of that. I kept telling myself that soon he will be too old to sit on my lap and that I should enjoy this. That worked until we had about two hours left. By then every muscle in my neck was wound tight like nautical rope causing a headache that felt like I had knives trying to penetrate my skull from inside out. We couldn’t have landed soon enough. Rule #1 A one plus about being a dad is never show any signs of weakness. I smiled the whole time through.
If you have never flown in to Australia there is one thing that you need to know, they take their customs very seriously. First we had to wait for everyone to disembark ahead of us. I could carry Jr and all our bags but I couldn’t fit everything down the aisle at one time so that took two trips carrying Jr the whole time. Once off the plane there was a long walk to the customs area where we needed to be stamped into the country. After that there was a lot of herding into a great room to get our checked bag and then more herding all while carrying Jr and handling what was now 5 bags. Next we had to clear customs being careful to claim Jr’s snacks. The Aussie’s are very serious about foriegn foods and the potential harm they may cause.The whole procedure took well over an hour. It was hot and crowded and Jr was a soldier the whole way through. A non-conformist soldier but a soldier none the less.
Now here we are in a new country, on a new continent with adventures to come.
Peace and love all.