Vacationing with a toddler is no vacation. That is if your idea of a vacation is lounging in the sun while sipping tropical drinks and reading a juicy book.
From sunrise to sunset, for a full week, I had to be a full-time parent. Pool time meant playtime. Dining meant kid-friendly. Drinking meant alcohol-free.
I don’t want to give the false impression that vacationing with a toddler isn’t a worthwhile experience. Quite to the contrary, it was one of the best experiences I’ve had as a parent.
Sure there were times that I longed for the concept of vacation that I once knew. Being a fulltime parent, even on vacation, is work. But it’s rewarding work.
There are many moments of this vacation that I will forever treasure. Hearing my son giggle when he says pickles and hiccups, because, well, because they’re funny-sounding words. Seeing him laugh uproariously when he spills ice down his T-shirt. Watching him swim on his own, albeit with the aid of a flotation device, for the first time.
When the vacation came to an end, I was ready to go home. But that’s true of almost any vacation.
On that last day, I learned a most important lesson in parenting. You can never carry too many diapers. Because you never know when you’ll need an extra. Like at the airport, while your plane is boarding.
This lesson we learned, unfortunately, too late. We’d gotten to the airport in plenty of time, arriving at around 5 PM for our 7:45 PM flight. We thought we were fully prepared. We had plenty of snacks. And, most importantly, or so we thought, we had a portable DVD player. At around 6:45 PM we (and by “we” I mean Mommy) changed what we (and by “we” I mean Daddy) thought would be the last diaper of our trip. But at around 7:25 PM, on the verge of boarding, The Toddler gets into that distinctive squat. Mommy and Daddy both eye each other, and then our fear is confirmed when The Toddler makes the official call: “Pooh-pooh.”
Okay, no need to worry. We’re fully prepared travelers. The plane won’t be taking off for another 20 minutes. Relax.
Wrong. Mommy is frantically searching through the backpack. I look warily. What is it?
“I don’t think we have another diaper,” Mommy says.
“How could you not pack enough diapers?” Daddy blurts unthinkingly. The day had been a long one and The Toddler had used up what we thought to be a generous supply of diapers already.
“We’ve got to do something and do it fast,” I add. “The plane is boarding.” Did I mention that I am Master of the Obvious?
Mommy looks annoyed.
“We could just wipe off the poop and reuse the diaper,” I state. Okay, so I flunked Parenting 101.
Mommy looks more annoyed. “We can’t just wipe off the poop and reuse the diaper,” she informs. Then she goes into SuperMommy routine. She finds a nearby parent and asks if they have any extra diapers. No. She grimaces and looks for other toddlers in the vicinity. There are none to be found.
“We’ve got to do something,” I say, throwing in my final, worthless, two cents.
Mommy nods, certain now that she’s married to the Dumbest Man on the Planet. Then she picks up The Toddler and scampers to the restroom.
Meanwhile, I’m sitting there holding all the baggage, nervously looking at the seconds tick away as I hear the last boarding group number called.
About five minutes later, I see Mommy chugging like a locomotive. The Toddler is flapping around in her arms, laughing like a hyena. Racing in an airport, apparently, to a toddler, is even more fun than saying pickles or hiccups.
Breathless, Mommy asks what is going on. I tell her that they just called our boarding group. We can get on the plane. She breathes a sigh of relief and as we walk toward the plane she tells me of her heroics. On the way to the loo she spotted a family with a toddler. She stopped, desperation dripping from her eyes, and asked if they had an extra diaper. They did, and it was even The Toddler’s size. Crisis averted.
We’re back home now, and it feels good to be home, just smiling at the thought of pickles and hiccups.