I am writing this from the couch of a cabin in Asheville, North Carolina, watching my 18 month old nephew “dance” to Ramblin’ Man by Led Zeppelin. It’s mostly adorable. This vacation marks my first trip (as an official adult) where there was a tiny child in attendance. Things are different. There is a lot more Elmo in my life. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing – there SHOULD BE more Elmo in my life. Elmo is an interesting cat. He’s always hugging people and talking in a high pitched voice. Those things are endearing. Well, at least endearing for the first 15 minutes. At some point, the law of diminishing returns takes over, but we are still in those first 15 minutes (for today), so I’m cool. Which is a good segue into today’s conversation piece – “Pros and Cons of Vacationing with a Toddler When You Yourself Do Not Have a Toddler.”
Pro: The aforementioned cuteness. Toddlers can be disarmingly cute. They do things like pretend to go to sleep, which isn’t that cute when Blake does it, but subtract 28 years and ADORABLE! There is also the unbridled joy that comes from getting an 18 month old to say your name. Or some version of it. I don’t know what it is, but there have been hours of activity based around one adult (let’s be honest here – me) sitting around repeating, “Say Kristi. Kris. Ti. Kristi. Say Kristi, Reed. Kristi. Kris. Ti.” And to be rewarded with a tentative – “trish. Ee?” Well, it’s basically like I have won some award for most awesome person to ever exist on the planet ever in a million years.
Con:Mornings. I don’t know if anyone else knows this, but toddlers wake up early. REALLY early. And they don’t just want to lie around like giant adult sized slugs, they want to run around yelling, “MAMA!” In normal situations, where there are three real bedrooms, this would not be an issue (or at least not one for me, the toddlerless), but in this particular cabin, those without kids (Blake and myself) have been regulated to the euphemistically named “third bedroom,” which, you know, is a loft. So, our mornings have been beginning at our equivalent of 6:30 by a toddler alarm clock, that yells, “MAMA!” instead of beeping. This is way cuter than a normal alarm clock, but some of us (ahem, Blake), don’t wake up on a normal day for 3 more hours, so a con it is.
Pro: Regulated nap times! Here’s the thing about little kids: they get to demand nap times! All activities must STOP, and naps are had! This is an amazing development. On normal trips, naps are hard to procure. There are a lot of adults that have to be convinced to stop their day so you can take a nap. But kids? Well, they trump everything. There is no negotiating nap time. So everyone gets a little mini-break and everyone wakes up super refreshed and ready for Day Time Part Two.
Con: Regulated nap times. Yeah, this a con too. Remember what I said about kids trumping everything? This is literally true. They can just fall asleep in the car, and there is hell to be paid for interrupting them. Yesterday, our lunch group splintered in two thanks to an ill-timed nap (or ill-timed lunch, depending on your prospective) that coincided with the drive to the restaurant. This didn’t really affect me because there were two cars, but I like this particular toddler’s parents and wanted to eat lunch with THEM. Thanks A LOT, baby.
Pro: More toys! I think most people forget this fact in the time between being a kid and having a kid. But toys are fun! They can fully occupy six adults and nominally occupy one toddler for hours. There are tops that spin and play music and shoot lights all over the place. There are balloon things that zip around, squealing. And bubbles! Staring at bubbles is the staring at fire for the toddler set. As an almost 30 year old, it’s been a while since I have stared at bubbles. Definite pro.
Con: Ok, Elmo. We’ve reached critical mass. Stop talking, ELMO.