By Brandy Black
It’s that time of year, when the sun pops out from behind the clouds and we all begin to think about traveling with our families over summer vacation. I found that planning a trip to Hawaii is daunting. I scoured through websites looking for the perfect house to rent and either ran into red X’s on the preferred dates of travel or simply couldn’t find anything in our budget. After much angst we settled on Hilton Waikloa Village in Kona on The Big Island. We stayed in a two bedroom suite with a balcony overlooking the ocean in one direction and an open lawn with a hammock in the other.
Although this resort is huge, so spread out that you can take a tram or a boat to get to dinner, it was a blast for the children.
At night we played freeze tag with the kids on the grassy grounds. Once tucked in and with the babysitter we had picnics by the water.
There were several restaurants to choose from including Chinese, Italian, Mexican and the children’s favorite, the morning buffet!
It was a great place to stay with kids and although we struggled traveling with three little ones. The resort did not disappoint. If you are off to Kona with kids you must check this place out!
By John Jericiau
I just returned from the birthday party of a classmate of my eldest son Devin, who is deep into kindergarten. The party was held in the city’s only bowling alley, which happens to be just a few blocks from our house. Twenty-two boys and girls enjoyed a game of bowling, which took just under two hours, along with some pizza pies and veggie platters. The game was not competitive at all; however, I was pleased to see that Devin came out of it with the highest score (87).
Devin seemed to have a great time among friends, and I have to say that I did too. I had our 5-month-old son with me, looking as adorable as ever, and during an early-in-the-party conversation with other parents he abruptly nodded off to sleep, snoring angelically for the duration. I enjoyed immensely the other parents and their jokes, and sensed that some of us had bonded, now that there’s eleven weeks left in the school year. Topics included summer camps, the kindergarten teacher’s recent elopement, and the desire to plan a “Parent’s Night Out” for all of us that are “barely hanging in there.”
One of the best (and the worst) experiences that goes hand-in-hand with having children in school is meeting new people, all who share a common bond. I love getting to know how everyone else’s family works (or doesn’t work), where they’ve come from, and where they are going. On the downside, there’s the gossip, judging, and backstabbing, but you have to take the good with the bad. You have to hang in there, if nothing else but for your kids. So you force yourself to talk to others, even if you don’t particularly want to.
Fortunately for me, I’ve always been fairly outgoing with people from a young age, and have tried to instill that curiosity and openness in my own kids. I was lucky to be this way when I made my way across the country alone on my bicycle at age 22. I had no problem meeting new people as I stopped in a city or rural town at the end of my day, which was fortunate since I had 60 ends of days. No sooner would I be chatting it up with someone outside a grocery store or fruit stand or mall when I would receive at least one invitation to spend the night with a roof over my head instead of ants beneath my body. Once we got to know each other, my new friend would expand their offer to include dinner, a shower, a clean comfortable bed, breakfast the next morning, and a packed lunch to last me through half of the next day. Occasionally I’d receive even more extras like cash, gift cards, hotel accommodations set up for the following night in a town along my proposed route, and yes, even a massage.
One of the most unique encounters I had was with Native American Indians right smack in the middle of the country. I ran into a family of them in a kind of rest stop along the main highway that bisects this midwestern state. The highway is peppered with connecting roads that lead to reservation after reservation.
The family quickly offered to let me stay with them, and although I felt some hesitation, I found myself slinging my bike onto the back of their pickup truck and hopping in. We arrived to their very modest house in no time, and upon entering through the front door I was greeted by a living room that had nothing but a brand-new, large color television right smack in the middle of it, with children and young adults alike gathered around it like a campfire.
I was offered a beverage, the choices being either water or beer, and then was shown my sleeping quarters, which turned out being a mattress in the basement with a rather large collection of cats. Needless to say the place smelled like cats and their byproducts. I wished everyone good night and laid my sleeping bag atop the mattress and hunkered down for a much needed rest.
It wasn’t more than an hour into the smelly night when someone opened the door to the basement and began their tiptoeing descent toward me. I could hear heavy breathing and a few cat cries as the person got closer and closer. With two feet to go I could see that it was the mother of the house, Ruth, who was feeling a little tipsy and very amorous. I had to fight off all 275 pounds of her for what seemed like an eternity (but was probably no more than a minute or two) before her keen-hearing brother dashed down the stairs and saved the night. After they left, I kept watch until the morning, but the coast remained clear. And I hightailed it out of there at the first sight of the sun.
The rest of my bike trip was eventful and memorable. Everyone has a story to tell, but for the times I had other interesting encounters, the cat’s got my tongue. At least for now, that is.
By John Jericiau
We just returned from a last-minute trip to Palm Springs to cap off Spring Break. Yes, I was content to stay home and enjoy the stay-cation and go to all the local activities and play dates that I had planned as part of Camp Daddy. And yes, having to search for and book a hotel room, pack for five, and clean out the minivan was going to add stress to my already stressed schedule. But my husband, hard working as he is and preparing for his medical board exam (a passing grade is required every ten years to keep his medical license), felt that a short trip out of town was just what the doctor ordered. Plus the boys love going on trips and staying in hotels. Also, our nearly five-month old had yet to spend a night in a hotel room. So I quickly hotwired and kayaked until I found a hotel with lots of pool activities and a fun twisty pool slide for the boys, and a workout gym for the fathers, and off we went.
I must admit I was looking forward to the weather. Our beach community refuses to let go of the thick marine layer these days that keeps the temperature in the low 60s, so I did find myself salivating at the 90-degree predictions showing up on my iPhone. Although the days of lounging by the pool, alternating between napping and reading as my skin soaks in the rays of the sun and my tongue laps up an ice-cold drink, were a fantasy right now due to parenthood, it’s still quite enjoyable to hang out by the pool and watch the boys enjoy the things that I used to enjoy.
As I drove my family the 114 miles east to Palm Springs, my thoughts drifted back to all the fun I’ve had there. In the late 80’s and early 90’s my friends and I would spend New Year’s Eve there in sprawling all-gay resorts and hotels, dancing the night away to tunes such as Like a Prayer (Madonna) and Miss You Much (Janet Jackson). One year my physical therapy program at USC offered a short internship at a Palm Springs hospital, so I quickly jumped at the chance to spend the first two weeks of the year in a school-subsidized three-bedroom apartment. I requested an early arrival, as in December 29th, thinking that I could secretly bring my friends along and they could enjoy the apartment with me (and we wouldn’t have to pay for a hotel that year) as we celebrated New Year’s Eve and a few days of after-parties.
My request was granted. “Just pick up the apartment key at the management office down the street from your apartment”, I was told. My plan was working. I would drive my carload of friends to Palm Springs, park around the block from the management office, and run in and collect the key. Then it’s on to partying like it’s 1999, only a whole decade earlier.
The woman at the management office was very nice, giving me advice on where to run and exercise and eat and catch a movie. She removed my apartment key from the top drawer of her desk, but instead of handing it to me she says as she starts heading for the door “Okay, let’s go check out your place. Should you drive or should I?”
“My car is packed with stuff, so can you please drive?” I begged. “Just let me run back to my car for my wallet.”
Despite a puzzled look, she agreed and said to meet her out front in the parking lot where her white Toyota Tercel would be waiting. I sprinted back to my friends in waiting, briefed them on the situation, and told them to follow the Tercel to the apartment where they could park and wait for further instructions from me. I ran back and squeezed into her car as we drove the half-mile to the apartment. We walked up to the front door of the apartment as I glanced behind us and saw my friends park across the street, anxious to start their Palm Springs experience. As the woman slipped the key into the hole to unlock the door, I heard her say, “You’ll have the back bedroom, and your roommate’s name is Josh, a PT student from Colorado.”
Roommate? I had no idea about a roommate. My heart sunk as I thought about my friends outside. I took a brief tour of the apartment and was told Josh would be home from his internship later in the day. I thanked the woman and told her I’d hike back to my car later, since I was a fitness buff. When the coast was clear I collected my compadres and we infiltrated the apartment, all six of us, like bees to their hive. I explained my dilemma but it didn’t appear to faze anyone, as margaritas were already being served in the kitchen. We brought in our suitcases from the car, squeezed into the two remaining bedrooms, and waited for our new roommate to arrive.
Josh arrived to find six sloshed guys who had taken over his space, but since he had just spent the past five weeks bored and alone in the apartment, he was happy to have the company. We all ended up having the best time.
“Daddy! How long until we get there?” a voice yelled in my ear, waking me from my daydream. I looked over at my husband reading on his iPad, back at my boys playing on their Nintendo, and at my new son sleeping away under his blankies, and I realize how much has changed. Not everything, however. I still want a Margarita when I get there, and I still listen to Madonna.
By Brandy Black
I should have known what direction my 40th birthday trip was going when I woke up the morning of our flight with a terrible cold. If I knew then…
Our first day in Hawaii was spent at the pool with all the kids. I hadn’t quite thought through how challenging, even with three adults, it would be to manage twins and a five-year-old. Just getting out of the room was exhausting, the sunblock, floaties, diapers, wipes, bottles, snacks, the list was endless. Then I had the bright idea of purchasing an oversized (literally as big as I am) turtle for Sophia to float around on. I wasn’t thinking, didn’t consider that we would be toting that damn thing around for the entire week. I just saw the smile on my daughter’s face when I agreed to her plea. Once all kids were finally in the pool and on our floats, we quickly realized the water was freezing cold. I know it’s always warm in Hawaii but on the occasional 70 degree day it sure would be nice if the pools were heated! Our water is warmer in California and frankly the weather too! My oldest said “I thought it was supposed to be like summer in Hawaii?!”
“Me too baby.”
After about an hour of freezing our asses off in the pool just to say we did, we decided to have lunch and that is when it all began. Sophia complained of a tummy ache. At first it was minor but it continued to escalate and by the end of the day she just wanted to be in the room. We scrambled to think of what might have caused this and came up with the natural solution- constipation. She has struggled with this in the past because of her deathly fear of pooping (that’s a whole other blog) but all was typically resolved with a little MiraLAX. And shit! I didn’t bring it! I brought the entire house in our three suitcases but didn’t think to bring the MiraLAX! So off Susan went on a 40-minute walk to the nearest grocery store while I juggled three kids with the nanny. When Susan returned she happily held up a box of ExLax! ”Why did you get that?” I say, with an instinct that five is a little young for Exlax. It turns out that’s all the market had and there were no other stores anywhere near us. I asked to see the box, convinced it wasn’t safe and Susan read aloud ”Yep, it’s fine, it says half a pill for five.”
Reluctantly I agreed. Suddenly a few hours later the pain was worse. Our daughter was officially not enjoying the vacation. We eagerly awaited a poop to make it all better. The next day, no poop and still serious belly pain. By the afternoon we had to call the resident doctor onsite and she advised us to race to the hospital for fear that it was appendicitis. Now I was in a panic. Not only had we discovered at this point that Susan read the box wrong and Exlax is not for young kids but it can also make appendicitis burst! We left the twins with the nanny and called a cab to the hospital which was 40 minutes away. Sophia at this point was screaming “take this pain away, please why aren’t you fixing this?” and I in a full-blown panic. On the way to the hospital Sophia finally fell asleep spread out across my lap. What a relief -until I realized that I was wet, she was wet, the cab was wet and it really smelled! Yep, she shit all over everything and get this: I didn’t bring back up clothes.
We finally pulled up to a small driveway and I was convinced we weren’t in the right place. It looked like a Veterinary Hospital. We finagled our daughter out of the cab and walked into a dingy little waiting room full of a family of Hawaiian people sitting around talking. We signed in and then had to wake our finally peaceful daughter. She began yelling “What are you doing? Why are you doing this to me? My belly. My belly.” I insisted the doctor give her something for the pain but logically they wouldn’t, they needed to see what the problem was first. They wanted Sophia to pee in a cup but she refused to drink water because she knew the pain it would inflict. After much yelling and getting transferred into a private room because we were bothering the other patients, Sophia finally fell asleep again. I began calculating the hours that we were going to sit by her side watching her sleep with no real answers since she was certainly not going to wake up and pee in a fucking cup. After convincing the doctor that she had to come up with another plan she decided to do x-rays. Sure enough we identified the problem, Sophia was 100% constipated. The nurse came in a few minutes later with an enema and handed it to me.
“Do you want to do it?”
“What? No, I don’t know how to do it!”
We agreed that she should do it while Sophia slept and I would be standing by on the gurney in case she woke up. I was above Sophia and with no warning from the nurse, shit came spraying out of my daughter, all over me! ”Well that happened fast” the nurse says with a friendly tone.
We got back to the room at 3AM and hoped to wake to a better day.
Suffice to say, the days didn’t get better. Sophia still struggled through pain, our twin daughter threw up on me, I think because the food in Hawaii was a bit different for her. The wind was howling, making our beach trip a disaster that culminated in our double stroller toppling over and hitting a woman in the face. We were dying to go home early from our never-ending trip but the doctors actually advised staying because travel only makes constipation worse.
The final leg of the trip, a red-eye flight which had been recommended by veteran friends with twins, was a nightmare. The kids didn’t sleep well, Sophia shit all over herself in her sleep on the plane and I swear the flight attendants sent in a Hazmat team to clean up after us. Oh and after arriving back at our house at 7am, I had scheduled a work meeting at noon that same day. I think I’m still recovering.
By Brandy Black
I remember my first plane ride as a child. I made an X on each calendar day counting down to the moment I would fly high up in the sky. It was so exciting. I was thrown back in time today when my 5-year-old daughter told me that tomorrow she would have a big smile on her face because the day after we will be going to Hawaii. But the part she is most excited about is the plane ride. She doesn’t recall every being on an airplane, which is funny because she’s been on several but I guess it’s been a while for air travel since the twins arrived.
Tonight I walked Sophia through every detail of arrival at the airport, security, seatbelts, the lights that turn on and off with instruction to the passengers, the flight attendants, the food, the drink cart! She practiced what she would order. I can’t wait to watch her experience all these “firsts” again. I am bracing myself, thinking about holding a baby on my lap the entire trip while trying to juggle ipads, drinks, food, and toys for Sophia. I won’t even have Susan next to me as we are not allowed to have two infants in the same row. I worry about the passengers around us. This trip could be incredible or an utter divorce-inducing disaster. Susan and I travel really well…without kids. Vacations with kids is like Space Mountain—lots of dizzying twists and turns never really knowing where you’re going to end up. One minute the children can be happy and grateful and the next they are screaming at the top of their lungs in a public place and Susan and I have nothing better to do than take it out on each other.
So we venture forward, creating lasting memories. Celebrating big birthdays and watching our children grow up. Wish me luck as I zoom through the friendly skies.
By Brandy Black
It’s a family tradition to see snow around the holidays. Typically we’ll drive somewhere for the day but this year we decided to get a cabin in Big Bear, CA at Christmas. This turned out to be a great destination for our family because it’s only 2 hours away from Los Angeles, which is perfect if you are traveling with little ones. We have three kids! I will warn you that chains are a requirement to have with you over the winter season (this I did not know) and those switchbacks can be a bit dizzying, but once we got to our quaint town and adorable cottage in the snow, we were thrilled. Chalet Devora was a prime location for skiers, just a quick 10-minute walk to the slopes. We were set up on a hill, which was a little intimidating to drive on ice, but worth it for the sledding around the back. Fully equipped with Christmas trees (yep there were 2) and festive holiday décor, the place was lovely. It even had a hot tub! Although when we all got in one snowy night it was about as hot as a lukewarm bath so you might want to warn them to crank up that heat!
What to do with kids in Big Bear
There is a great little ski camp at the slopes that we enrolled our daughter in for 2 hours. It was her first time skiing and she came out with a good snow plow and the desire to ski down her first bunny hill. I couldn’t believe I was more terrified than she when we all went up on her very first chairlift.
There are a couple nice inner-tubing places that are great fun for kids. We spent the afternoon making snow angels, having snowball fights, and sliding down the hill.
I wasn’t sure if there would be much to do with the babies (they are one). People thought we were crazy motivating with twin babies, but they had a blast. We took them to Big Bear Village and bought a sled and pulled them around in the snow. We happened upon a tiny hill that every toddler in town has spotted and had great fun listening to them giggle as they traversed through the snow.
What to Eat
If you are a foodie, you might not be terribly impressed with the restaurants, but I thought it was just what you’d expect from a lovely little village town. I couldn’t get a good sidecar to save my life but I enjoyed my meal and fireside table at Captain’s Anchorage. They even had the 80’s salad bar.
We had a great trip and will surely do it again, although my next ski destination is Mammoth. Any recommendations before we go?
1. Gas station attendants are fairly generous with plastic bags—especially when you tell them you have a puking child in their parking lot.
2. You can toss a child’s puke-saturated clothing in a gas station women’s room and it will in no way alter the aroma of the place.
3. Per the laws of mathematics and physics, sleeping with two 35-pound children in a queen-sized bed should be fairly equivalent to sleeping with one 70-pound child in a queen-sized bed. It is not.
4. The removal of wet sand from a six-year-old’s butt crack must be done one grain at a time.
5. It is possible to get sick of eating a delicious dinner out every night.
6. My children never eat enough in a restaurant to make it financially feasible to buy them food. Alas, it is illegal not to offer them food occasionally.
7. Collecting shells on the beach is enjoyable in theory, until you have to figure out what to do with the three full buckets of shell shards your children collected and insist on transporting the 1370 miles home.
8. The person who invented portable DVD players should be awarded a Nobel Peace Prize.
9. Pelicans are freaking huge and scary as shit.
10. My children are not, nor may they ever be, the “outdoorsy” type.
11. Hiking straight up the side of a mountain is strangely less exhilarating than it sounds.
12. My daughter has to pee exactly every twenty miles while travelling. It is a mathematical and biological wonder.
13. For the purpose of peace and tranquility, you should never travel with fewer handheld electronics than you have children.
14. The Toyota Camry has unbelievable trunk space. Seriously. I could easily fit three children and all my luggage in there. Luckily, it never came to that.
15. Children do not care in the least to look at the breathtakingly beautiful mountains when cradling a handheld video game in their hands. Insisting they look is pointless, as they will not sufficiently appreciate the beauty and it will just piss you off.
16. My youngest son is either slow or annoyingly defiant, as he absolutely refused to play on the beach—he lay around in a beach chair whining about how he preferred the pool—until the very last day of our trip. On the last day, we had to drag him kicking and screaming from the beach.
17. Applying sunscreen to every inch of exposed flesh on five pale, pasty Minnesotans takes longer than I had initially imagined it would.
18. I can and do peel.
19. I have a great deal of respect for people who bathe their children every day. (I am normally not a believer and justify my laziness by telling myself that the cold Minnesota winters dry out the skin enough to make a daily bath an unnecessarily torturous affair.) With the combined salt and chlorine of the beach and pool—not to mention the aforementioned ass crack sand issue—my children received a bath every single day of our trip. It is freaking hard work.
20. Despite everything I have ever believed, my family in no way has my back. This was glaringly evident when they all stood around giggling like little school girls rather than helping me as the ocean waves knocked me down over and over and over again until I eventually had to crawl on my hands and knees out of the ocean like some primordial sea creature.
By: Brandy Black
I am a long-time fan of the Huntington Dog Beach. We have taken our wheaten terrier there since he was a tiny pup but now that we have kids it’s hard to motivate for the hour-plus trip to the dog beach with everyone in the car, only to turn around and come home later that afternoon. But it seems unfair for our dog; I mean how will we celebrate his birthdays? Yep it’s true, we took him to the dog beach every birthday; we even once threw a party for him there, presents and all.
I’ve since discovered two fabulous family hotels that accept dogs and sit directly across from the dog beach with stunning views of the Pacific. This beautiful 42 miles of coastline is a great destination for a luxury family vacation. Aside from riding bikes and playing in the sand there are quite a few things to do in the area. There are plenty of shops, restaurants, and the pier -we even went for a family gondola ride at sunset. But we are simple, playing in the sun all day is how we like to roll.
Our first night was spent at the Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach. When I think Hyatt, I typically think “corporate” -reserved for trips with computers and conference calls and without children -but not this Hyatt. There is a mix of all crowds, the Slyders water playground and Lagoon style pool makes this hotel a great getaway for the whole family. Our daughter couldn’t decide between the beach or the pool and lucky for our dog we got to do both. This property even has a Camp Hyatt for the kids so we checked in to the spa. I mean seriously, we all know how “vacations” with children can be, typically I either need a strong martini or a soothing massage or both to get me through. The accommodations were nice and the views picturesque but most importantly at the end of a long sun-kissed day the children slept soundly and so did the parents.
Day Two was spent at the Waterfront Beach Hilton Hotel and was just as lovely. I thought this property was a little more plush and fabulous than the first and maybe better suited for couples and their dogs rather than the whole family but we were certainly happy and well accommodated . Dinner might have been a little long for our four-year-old after a day of sand castles and shriveled fingers but she hung in there because the hotel-planned s’mores fire-pit was waiting for us at sunset. Bundled in blankets and singing campfire songs we were thrilled to end our evening with sticky fingers and a resounding “this was the best night ever” from our daughter.
I love to get away, and even better with the whole family (pets included), but I don’t like to go far with three children, two of them under one year old. This beach vacation is just my style: short, sweet, gorgeous, and only a short car ride away.
If you travel like I do, you might want to check out this site for more info on fun beach vacations.
By: John Jericiau
Three more days to go until the end of our Costa Rican vacation, and I’m ready to go home. Don’t get me wrong – I’m enjoying everything about this vacation. We are at an all-inclusive resort, and we haven’t excluded anything. We enjoy every breakfast, lunch, and dinner, topped off with a dessert or two. We are having fruity drinks and smoothie drinks and alcoholic drinks. The boys sip on pineapple-mango concoctions throughout the day as if they won the lottery, in between or during their kid’s club activities at the beach or the pool or the art room or wherever they want. We’ve watched wonderful live music and dance performances on stage. We’ve done massage on the beach and reflexology at the spa, daily workouts at the gym, and some napping at poolside. We’ve done long ocean swims and walks along the shore. We’ve ramped up our man-on-man time to a frequency not seen since 2004 B.K. (Before Kids.) We’ve stayed up late watching good old movies on TV (albeit with English subtitles), and have slept in until the boys wake us up at the crack of 10. We’ve been able to lounge on our hotel room patio and talk leisurely together about our goals for the next five years, our landscape plans for our back yard, and our deep inner thoughts about John Travolta. We’ve bonded as a family, and have enjoyed every minute of it.
It would be unbearable to leave all of this behind if not for the fact that things are so great at home. We are walking distance to one of the most iconic beaches on the planet. We can walk to a beautiful municipal pool. Or to an awesome outdoor promenade. Or a library. Or the market. Or a bowling alley.
The weather is incredible. It’s warm but not hot. We don’t have tornadoes, hurricanes, or ice or snow. We have a bike path down at the beach that is great for running. We live across the street from a kid’s park and a dog park. We have a very roomy backyard (roomy by beach community standards anyway).
The boys’ fantastic schools are walking distance from our house. We have lots and lots of relatives close by (husband’s side of the family), and even more friends and playmates. Our town has 20 movie theaters in or around it, and our minivan at last count has 17 cup holders and a three-inch layer of beloved toys on its floor. The boys have their karate class, and their swim lessons, and their YMCA.
We’re at T minus 19 weeks (probably less) until our much anticipated Baby #3 is born, and we’re all (especially the boys!) getting more and more excited about its arrival. The boys also want a dog, and a cat, and a garden, because “we big 4- and 5-year-old boys now and can be do more and we promise to help with the baby boy no I want a girl and feed it and wipe it I promise Daddy and Papa okay please I’ll be good okay please?”
Two weeks is plenty for a vacation, and we’ve got so much fun to look forward to. I can picture myself at home unpacking these suitcases we’ve been living out of and finally machine washing these clothes we’ve been recycling. I can’t wait to stock the refrigerator and wash the car and make the beds. Bring on the sweeping and the repairing and the play date planning and the organizing.
Because there’s no place like home.
By: John Jericiau
I’m writing this as our driver is careening through the Costa Rican countryside on the way to our beach destination. We were picked up at the airport two hours ago, and except for a stop at a river overpass to spy on a dozen or so crocodiles bathing in the murky water, we’ve been moving right along. Today is my husband’s 40th birthday, and we’ve planned a mega-vacation to celebrate. Plus we thought we’d get in a good trip before Baby # 3 enters our world in just 21 weeks. We were hoping that one thing we might do on this trip is pick out either a boy or girl name for Baby # 3, but the ultrasound this past week was out of focus. Actually, it was the doctor that was not focused … he was a substitute doctor that showed so little interest in our baby’s anatomy that I don’t think he would have noticed genitals if they slapped him in the face.
Anyway, we’re happy to be close to our first of three destinations in Costa Rica. Our five- and four-year-old boys had less than stellar performances today, but who can blame them? I myself wanted to kick and scream by the time we got to our layover (in El Salvador), as I was dragging from being up since 4:11 am to finish packing. I had estimated that I was 98% packed by the night before our trip, but that last 2% is always the toughest. Just a few more socks, and a few more snacks, and did I remember a razor? Inevitably I find myself vacationing with two razors and too many socks.
It seems like days ago (it was this morning) that we taxied to LAX, flew through the line at TACA Airlines, and were stopped dead in our tracks by a gate agent who, after looking at our four passports, and then us, and then the passports again, requested the “permission letter from the mother of these children” in order to complete our check-in. Hmmm.
“We’re both the fathers” I said with a smile, and I could sense the hairs on the back of the birthday boy’s neck rising. Those hairs were fully erect and standing on end when the agent came back with “Well, do you have a copy of their birth certificates proving that?”
I immediately fell to my knees and began to search my backpack, more than a little distracted as I wondered if this was normal procedure for everyone. Certainly there have to be thousands of single parents, or at least one parent travelling alone, who travel with their kids. Do all these parents run into this same roadblock? Or is it just the fact that we are two men, and our boys couldn’t look more different from each other? After about a minute my husband, who assumed I was just faking the search for something I did not have, bent over and whispered through his teeth “We should just rush home and get the proof while we still have time.”
Almost simultaneously I found the copies that I had stored in the zippered part of my backpack the night before, and presented them to the relieved-but-still-puzzled-looking agent, who sent us on our way with boarding passes in hand.
My husband gave me the “good job” thumbs up for having the presence of mind to copy birth certificates, and I silently thanked my friend for giving me the idea.
Doing something right is always a good way to start a vacation.