Hawaii with kids?
Want to ratchet a parent’s blood pressure up about 30 points?
Ask if they relish the idea of boarding a plane with tiny, sticky humans who consider themselves conscientious objectors to sitting down, inside voices and not kicking seatbacks.
Things I have feared — besides my very own mortality, but perhaps with the same heightened visceral stomach-clenching horror — have been: poopsplosions, meltdowns, ear-popping pain, side-eye from kid haters and the inability to come up with a pleasing enough bribe to shut down shenanigans.
This is an abridged list, edited for this column, otherwise I’d be taking up the whole dang magazine.
Oh, and then there’s the whole “taking your entire family in a tin can, miles into the atmosphere and praying no physics pro got the calculations wrong.”
Despite all my Extreme Obsessing about What Could Go Wrong, ranging from poop to death, I still boarded a plane with two of my children (and my husband, because this is a team event). More than once even. Xanax-free, even, which, if you know me and my fear of flying, is a truly monumental testament to the sacrifices I will make for my children.
Here’s what happened on the sum total of those flights (sorry, not sorry, for the spoiler alert halfway through my word count this month): Absolutely Nothing. I mean, nothing of the traumatizing, humiliating, can’t-handle-this variety, at least.
The biggest, longest trip we’ve taken was to Maui. Not only did this involve taking flights that lasted around eight hours over the ocean, we also had layovers and takeoffs at naptime and landings in the middle of our night. Oh yeah, jet lag. A jet-lagged 2- or 3-year-old seems like a situation that could totally implode everything we know about the time-space continuum.
But may I submit to the jury that it could also cause you to take a pre-dawn walk on the beach, the air scented with plumeria? Positively Hallmarkian.
Lest my love letter to Hawaii, my children and traveling gets too fantastical, please know that I also accidentally allowed myself and my 9-month-old son, who I was wearing on my back, to get crushed by a gigundo wave, which doused us thoroughly and left us choking — him squalling, and me staggering and bedraggled. Some mom!
Traveling can ignite the curiosity and wonder of children. Even several years later, Ruby still talks about how we packed for “Ha-why” and asks when we’ll return.
The beautiful weather, walks on the beach to get fresh-blended tropical-fruit smoothies and a general flaunting of anything resembling our “real life” made an indelible mark on her.
Will Remy remember hiking through a bamboo forest as an infant on my back?
No. Not literally. But I hope it means he’ll just always feel like a citizen of the world, a steward of the environment, an open-minded, open-hearted ambassador or polite guest. (Ruby, too.) I hope it imbues my children with the mindset that we are not the center of the universe, that there is so much to see, do, understand, learn, mend.
Katie Dohman is currently living in the midst of a total full-house renovation with her one husband, three kids, two dogs and one kitten. She is tired.