Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Travels with the Grape: Preparing for Launch

I apologize for starting with an unoriginal thought: Whoever said that getting there is half the fun clearly wasn't traveling with a toddler.

No one has told the Grape. He's beside himself giddy about our upcoming airplane trip. In fact, whenever he's pitched a fit over the past week, I've asked, "Do you want to go on the plane?"

"Yes! Yes! Yes!" he'll scream, with the enthusiasm of a dog asked if he'd like steak for dinner. The Grape has no idea the tickets are non-refundable, or that it would be illegal to leave him home alone. Although we have engaged a live in house sitter, a verifiable mature adult, so maybe... Kidding!

Instead of dwelling on the far fetched nature of my new favorite threat, I just say, "Well, then you need to [insert desired behavior here]."

Little does he know that the plane will be "fun" for roughly ten minutes, or that we'll all be exhausted by the time we actually board. Despite his insistence that he can't wait to go on a trip, the Grape is doing his best to undermine our departure at every turn.

With under twenty-four hours left until go time, and my evening tonight booked with a professional obligation, I haven't started to pack. Packing would require doing laundry, identifying the proper bags to bring, and assembling all our stuff in neatly folded piles  - all without alerting either the Grape or Lila the Dog.

Lila hyperventilates whenever she sees suitcases come out. She shakes, pants, pees herself and suffers palpitations.

Meanwhile, the Grape enjoys "helping," which involves unfolding each item and dragging our clean clothes up and down the hall, as if he's trying to ensure that every last speck of dust in our place crosses the Atlantic with us. Or jamming every one of his stuffed toys into the largest suitcase, then bawling when I tell him they can't all come. Or zipping Siren the Cat into one of the carryon bags (she is too senile to protest or care).

Note to self: Get visual on geriatric cat before leaving for airport, to avoid unpleasantness with domestic and/or foreign customs personnel. Better, yet: save a few bucks on the taxi and check for passports at same time.

For added pre-launch fun, the Grape, team player that he is, spent the past two and a half days convalescing with some kind of disgusting toddler plague, one that featured high fevers, mouth sores, malaise and a complete monopoly on my attention.

Thoughtful, locally produced hostess gift for cousin? Probably downgraded to duty free booze. Fun Bostonian souvenir for new nephew? Hopefully the airport stocks tot size gear.

Thorough house cleaning in anticipation of aforementioned mature adult's move in? She'll have to settle for a quick last minute vacuuming. Don't roll your eyes - the Grape is napping and there is no way I'm going to wake him up for anything short of a life-threatening emergency.

A few acquaintances have taken stock of all this and asked why I want to schlep overseas with a preschooler.

Because, once we get there, it'll be great. The Grape is a game little guy, and I know I can't expect him to become a good little traveler if we never take him anywhere. And if he's a  total disaster, at least I'll return home with copious amounts of new material.

Besides, my parents toted us overseas all the time. Back in the good old days when you could send the kids to the cockpit for the bulk of the flight. I'm told they frown on that kind of thing these days.

Since we're at T minus 23 hours, I should sign off and get on with key preparations. Such as finding a valium for the dog. I'll write again after our travels. Until then, as the Italians say, The Little Grape is:


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