Monday, September 17

Traveling with a Baby

Recently my sister and I planned a trip to Portland, Oregon together so that our grandma, now 85-years-old and starting to lose her short-term memory, could see another one of her great-grandbabies. My sister was kind of a pain in the butt to plan with, she had a lot of stipulations: non-stop flight requests, specific times, etc. She was just worried about how well her precious baby would travel. In the end I said, we can go on this really cheap flight together (one stop) or you can go by yourself. We ended up going together and her baby was just fine. In fact, he was an amazing traveler. Distracted by our fellow passengers, books, movies and games on the iPad, he only screamed his head off during our descent into Houston when the pressure made his little ears hurt.

My sweet nephew is half Islander-half Chinese and wholly gorgeous. Everywhere we went, I saw people's eyes light up at his exuberant smile and his head full of long curls. When I travel by myself or with friends, we tend to stay fairly insular, speaking only to each other or wrapped up in our books and phones. When you travel with a baby, you have no choice but to engage with other travelers. Of course, you are constantly apologizing (for kicking their chair, for their screaming, for being so loaded down with bags and bumping people). But more often, it was just the simple act of making eye contact and smiling. Babies and young children do it all the time and it makes you remember that smiling and saying hello is an easy thing to do. It takes much more effort to not look at people.

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