We Are Both Right

Taking a Break (from Sleep) on Vacation

©We Are Both Right

They look sweet enough, but try sleeping between them. ©We Are Both Right

When is a two-night stay at hotel and spa not an exercise in relaxation?

When you have to share your bed with a two-year-old and an eight-year old. A double bed. With two pillows.

While the facility advertised “luxurious linens, fluffier pillows & down comforters” I spent my weekend resting my head on a bright yellow duck pillow pet, curled up under a corner of the decorative blanket that looks nice when you first walk into the hotel room, but most people don’t give it too much thought when it comes time for actually sleeping.

Not that I did too much of that.

It was a quick getaway two hours north of our house. A visit to a museum, some laps in a hotel pool, a few meals out — a nice way to bond as a family. And it was. We had a great time. The grownups just didn’t get any sleep. Normally we’d put the three kids (11, 8 and 2) in one bed and the adults in the other (and sometimes the 11-year-old opts to sleep on an air mattress on the floor), but the littlest guy was coming down with a cold and had a cough, so I decided to sleep with him and my daughter.

Toddler S. still sleeps in the crib, so to keep him comfortable and safe in the bed, we positioned it up against the wall. Our daughter A. slept on the other edge and I took the least-coveted middle spot. (There’s a reason why when you are picking your seats on an airplane those seats are never taken by the way. Even so, an eight-hour flight wedged between two sumo wrestlers would be preferable to what I endured.)

It was 10 p.m. on the first night and we were all tired from the day and our trip. We had arrived at our room a half hour earlier and everyone was ready to settle down. Everybody that is, except S. who was excited that all of his favorite people were all going to “sleep” in the same room at the same time and whose second wind seemed to kick in the second we walked into the hotel.

“S., stop kicking the wall.” (pause, kick) “S., get your feet off the wall.” (pause, kick) “S., stop kicking the wall.”

“I not tired! I no want sleep! I watch tv! Turn tv on!”

Kick. Kick. Kick.

Eventually (e-ven-tu-al-ly) he fell asleep, but as those of you who have shared a bed with a toddler know, I still wasn’t safe. Because that’s when the kicking, punching and head-butting portion of our evening started.

The thing is, I’m a big advocate of bedsharing. We’ve done it with all of our infants. The problem I have with co-sleeping is that once the kids get older (and their heads get harder), sharing a bed with your little one is less of a portrait of a snuggling family cuddled up under blankets and more of an image of a WWE wrestling ring. And guess what parents? You never get to win. Ever.

Sigh. Still, I tell my husband all the time that one day in the far too soon future, we won’t have a little person kicking us in our sleep or leaving sticky fingerprints on the television or pouring an entire cup of RED fruit punch in the middle of the sage green living room carpet (two months later we still can’t get rid of the stain) and we will miss every single second.

Even in my no-sleep-induced haze, I know we will.

What are sleeping arrangements like when you are on vacation?

Now Boarding: The Plane for Grumpy Adults

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Child free flights? Either that or sedate kids before flying.

Far from my opinion, but that was the suggestion of one passenger on a cross-country flight my family and I took in October. My blood pressure had just about recovered from his diatribe when The New York Times ran an article that elicited some wildly fanatical comments and got me all stirred up again.

There’s no disagreement — on this site at least — that child-free flights are a stupid idea. Do we really need to complicate the already inhumane experience which is modern day air travel, just to appease people who think the world should stand still while they walk through it?

You know the type I’m talking about: those who live only for themselves and have such rigid schedules/diets/habits/pristine living spaces that nothing disruptive shall dare ever stir. Nary a child, nor another creature of any kind.

No, I’m not resentful that my walls bear the wrath of ketchup hands and my days (and nights) have not been my own since 2002. I just wish that some people would understand that life isn’t meant to be always perfect, predictable, and peaceful.

Maybe someone walks slower than you, speaks loudly, hums while they read, eats too fast, or drinks only hot water all day long. We’re all peculiar in some way — adults more so than children in my opinion. If you can’t tolerate the fact that not everyone is going to behave exactly as you wish — then don’t come out of your hole.

And if it’s children who especially make you twitch, might I ask how old you were when you were born?

That’s what I should have asked the middle-aged guy on our flight who got on his soapbox in the middle of the aisle as we stood cocked to one side waiting to deboard. Speaking to everyone and no one at the same time, he stated flat out that all children should be sedated before coming on a plane.

Seems that the crying baby two rows behind him had made him absolutely insane, enough so that he complained repeatedly to a flight attendant and she actually went over and instructed the father to walk up and down the aisle to make the baby stop. It was a turbulent flight, and I felt for the father who was clearly flabbergasted and reluctantly obliged.

Oh how I’ve been there — you feel trapped, but at the same time know you’ve made every effort to appease your child, and yet there’s nothing rational about talking to an uncommunicative infant or toddler who is just plain uncomfortable, stir-crazy and ear-achy. My longest hours have been lived on seniors-only flights to Florida at midnight with an overtired infant and on descents that felt like days because my screechy toddler had just plain had enough.

The baby on our flight eventually settled down, maybe even fell asleep. But I knew her parents were probably holding their breath, hoping for a quick landing and escape. And just when they thought they were in the clear, our in-flight Parenting Guru got up and inflicted his opinion upon us all. Another father seated nearby ended it by telling him that a fussing baby was all part of life (his included), so he should get over it.

All I know is that I will never be one of those grumpy people. On the one and only round-trip flight I’ve taken sans kids in the eight years I’ve been a parent (which just happened this past January), I actually felt downright guilty to be reading a magazine while other parents wedged their way down the aisle with car seats and diaper bags. I wanted to tap them on the shoulder and say: “Just so you know, I get it. Don’t worry about changing your baby’s diaper in your seat, breastfeeding during the flight, or muffling baby’s cries. I’m OK with it, even if no one else is.”

That’s when I came up with this vow for my later years: I will never care if a child cries or fusses on a flight that I’m on. As long as I’m not responsible for them, nothing will stop me from napping, reading my book, or staring into space.

I promise. (Or you can kick my seat.)

Child-free Flights? Only if There Are No Grownups

 © iceneweb/stock.xchng

© iceneweb/stock.xchng

Couple of things before we start:

  • Kids cry.
  • Sometimes they behave badly.
  • You were a kid once.
  • When you were an aforementioned kid, you cried.
  • You probably behaved badly sometimes too.

Ready?

So in our latest installment of “How Children Ruin Everything,” there seems to be a new movement — a push for child-free and/or family-friendly flights on airplanes.

I guess the thinking is that because kids are more likely to be disruptive on a plane — tantrums, kicking of seats and other assorted annoying behaviors — isolating them with their parents on a flight of their own would be for the greater good.

Except that is some seriously flawed logic going on.

Why do people think that kids have a monopoly on bad behavior on an airplane? I don’t fly all that often, and I’ve had my fair share of talkers and kickers and too-much-to-drinkers and shoulder sleepers and seat-recliner-all-the-way-backers and from what I could tell, every single person seemed capable of dressing and feeding themselves and none of them drank from sippy cups, wore diapers or were big fans of Elmo. Can we give them their own flight?

And practically, how would that even work? What if you need to fly last-minute with your family and there are no designated “family” planes available?  I’m lucky enough to live in an area where there are literally hundreds of flights coming and going every day, dozens per hour. But what if you are from an area where there are only one or two departures? Will one be monopolized by a bunch of loud, snotty-nosed, brats?

And then when will the kids fly?

(See what I did there?)

What happened to empathy? Flying isn’t easy on adults, imagine how it must be for a child who doesn’t understand what is going on. You wait on long lines only to go and have to sit for a while. Then you wait on another long line and then sit again in a enclosed space with lots of people you don’t know. Then all of a sudden it gets noisy and bumpy and your ears start to hurt. And you aren’t allowed to get up. Or play. Or stretch your legs.

I dread air travel, for all of those reasons. Why would a 5-year-old think it’s fun?

And sure, there are some parents who don’t do the best job of keeping their kids in line. Kids who scream and cry and who make their presence very well known. But that’s a small number and you are going to find them everywhere — airplanes, libraries, restaurants, life. Should we have kid-free towns too?

Babies cry, toddlers have meltdowns and preschoolers throw temper tantrums. (You know what? Sometimes I do all three of those things too.) Is it unfortunate when it happens on a plane? You bet. But until grown-ups starting behaving perfectly all the time, we shouldn’t expect our kids to either.