Okayest Traveler

I’m still trying to figure out how to properly send you to my World’s Okayest Moms podcast without hyperlinking you to all of the places. But there are only so many hours in the day. I would love to be able to host TWO podcasts here, so you could listen in a post (as so many of you do), but I haven’t (meaning Kamel hasn’t) figured it out yet. Sigh. So for now, I will link you.

The specific podcast I am referencing is this one about traveling with tiny humans. And I think I’ve linked it here before. (There is a more recent one about co-parenting too! And how much I hate it, but it is also working out totally fine, but I hate it, but omg single mamas, you guys are killing it out there.)

I want to bring this traveling one back up again because I brain farted when we were podcasting and I didn’t tell the most horrible parenting story of my parenting life when I had the chance, even though I had planned to and saved my story for this one moment and EVERYTHING. And then poof. I dropped the podcast story-telling ball. Thank god there are three of us on there.

So now, I will tell you. The most embarrassed I have ever been as a mother happened in the San Francisco airport coming back from Miami. For full backstory, we had just gotten off a 5-6 hour flight, we had had to wake up the kids at there 3-4am. Gabriel had been very sad and very confused as to why we were making him get out of bed. He did not sleep on the plane. We were all sunsoaked and smelly and Fae eventually put on a pair of Gabe’s boxer briefs as pants while on our layover in SFO because her pants got too dirty and we had no extras for her to wear. Gabriel was living on a diet of yogurt bites and M&Ms. As a family, we were hanging on by a thread.

When Gabe gets over tired he becomes a maniac and acts out in ways that I do not understand. He becomes an anarchist. He will look at me like I’m not even there and act out for no reason at all. It is impossible to reign him in and it is totally the worst.

We had let him run free in the airport when we got there because he is 3 and had just endured 6 hours in a chair. And also because we had 2 hours to kill. BE FREE! We bought him a legit smoothie hoping he would drink it and eat some fruit. He had like 2 sips. We were sitting in these giant red chairs, per his request, and he was sitting and spinning and just kind of generally wandering around within my sphere of influence. The next table over from us was an older couple. The man was reading a non-english paper, and the woman was sitting across from him quietly. A few minutes later she got up and went somewhere else, leaving her section of the paper on the little coffee table thing in front of both her and her husband. In very literally a split second Gabriel reached over, grabbed the woman’s paper and flung it into the air as he walked past the table.

Let me let that soak in. He is walking past, grabs the section of the paper with his left hand, and flings it into the air without even looking at it as he walks by.

The sections separate and float down in different directions. What I believe are prayer cards that have been clearly removed from a very old book and that were folded into her section of the paper scatter.

And then I died.

I hiss in a loud voice, while marching over to grab my child, some form of parental scolding. The older man is just looking at me, saying nothing, with a face of total contempt and disbelief. Kamel is handling Fae and didn’t see what happened. I have to then explain to Kamel, breifly, what happened while I’m also explaining why he needs to keep Gabriel OVER THERE while I go back and run around picking up the paper and the prayer cards and trying to put them all back together again while I apologize profusely.

The man, my only audience, remains disgusted at my actions. Doesn’t utter a word, but watches me run around picking up all of the papers like a bad mother who can’t control her fucking kids.

I am still dying. It is a slow, terrible death.

When the woman comes back I hear him explaining to her what happened in a different language, while boldly gesturing in our direction. That’s when I shoo Kamel and the kids away. We need to go somewhere else, ANYWHERE ELSE.

Yes, yes children are an extension of our hearts living outside of our bodies. But they are also representatives of our arms and legs, and they move independently of us, so often to our extreme horror.

6 thoughts on “Okayest Traveler”

  1. I don’t have kids. I’m not a crotchety, old foreign man. I lurk your blog mostly, so I don’t really know you from Eve. But I think that man was way out of line and I’m mad at him on your behalf.

    Yeah, I get that being old entitles you to expect a level of deference/reverence. I get that foreigners might generally have a shitty view of Americans and are looking for things to confirm their worldview. But, he should understand that a 3 year old doesn’t understand that. That a 3 year old is trying to learn how to control their body and their mood and connect the two. I remember being super young and not knowing how to handle my overtiredness except by punching and throwing things and stomping around.

    You were not buried with your face in your phone not noticing what your kid did, or worse, completely apathetic about it. You saw it, immediately took control of the situation – scolded him, sent him away – and then began to right the wrong. You apologized and picked up the paper while this asshole watched you with contempt and acted as if what your kid did was tantamount to breaking into his home. Those prayer cards may have had sentimental value and been very important (if they were THAT important, I don’t think putting them inside a newspaper is the best way to store them…could easily be dropped or lost, but I digress…), but that guy needs to grow some empathy.

    /end rant

    Also… Don’t know if this helps… but my mom helped me with my overtiredness by buying me a stress monkey and a “punching pillow” The stress monkey was a stress ball shaped like a monkey that she would give me when I told her I was feeling “ootzy” (our word for the restlessness and general ick of overtired) and she would tell me to squeeze it and we would count our breaths. And the punching pillow lived on my bed. When I was feeling overtired and angry, I had license to punch it, throw it, bite it, rip it, whatever to get my “ootzy” energy out and calm down. Granted, she gave these to me when I was 5 or 6, so…. YMMV.

    Thanks for writing so candidly about your life. I really appreciate reading all of it, even/especially the things I can’t directly relate to.

    1. Thank you so much for this! I hadn’t even thought about how unfeeling he was. I had been spending this whole time just feeling horrible about violating someone else’s space. It was awful.

    2. Yeah, I’m with Paige. That dude was a dick.

      If this had happened to me, even if I WAS annoyed, I would reassure the poor parent that it was ok and help pick up the papers. Because c’mon. Airports are a) the worst, and b) toddlers can be crazy. These are universal truths no matter your age or country or origin.

  2. Ugh, toddlers. Mine gets that way when he is tired too, it’s like I’m not even there or at least have lost the ability to talk. I am lucky that we have not had anything like that happen. Yet, I’m sure it is inevitable. I would have let him run around like a crazy person too in the same situation. I haven’t listened to the co-parenting podcast yet (though, I love the ones I have heard) so I can’t respond to what you actually said. But, I am a part-time single parent and there is not a day that goes by when my husband is gone that I don’t wish he was here. (Usually night and early morning, actually.) I’m sure it would be different if he was here every day and I wasn’t spending all day, every day with my kids. But right now I just want a break. I’m sure it’ll change as they get older too. (Not trying to invalidate your feelings (I think that is the sentiment I’m going for) we all have our things, right?)

    1. Don’t worry at all!! I totally get you. And thank god for having a buddy to take some of the weight off of parenting. I definitely did not and do not intend on being the primary care giver, god willing. I get generally frustrated with having to account for someone else’s opinions – in my marriage and with my kids. Haha. This is totally irrational as these are the life choices I have made. It’s a weakness. 🙂

      1. Before the kids I actually really enjoyed the times when he was gone. I got to do my own thing without having to worry about what he wanted. I’m sure it’ll go somewhat back to that once the kids aren’t so needy. So I get that too.

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