That American Life

“MOMMY WHO ARE YOU TALKING TO?” E demanded from her car seat in the rear, as I annunciated coffee words out the car window at a sign. It occurred to me my city kid had probably never been through a drive-thru before, or at least doesn’t remember having been.

“It’s finally happened,” she was probably thinking; “Mommy’s finally cracked.”

Then a magic arm reached out and handed me my coffee and I revved the Prius and was on my way.

God bless America!

We were back in the U.S. for two weeks, our first trip back since August, and Baby R’s first trip outside of London.

The trip from London to Portland, Oregon, is loooong. We were lucky enough to fly business class, so it was significantly more pleasant than it could have been, and both girls did pretty well. These ages are good for travel. E is old enough where she can be entertained by the TV and movies on board, and can listen and follow instructions, and she’s potty trained. And R is young enough that she isn’t able to move around, doesn’t take up much space on my lap, and doesn’t need any toys, snacks, or purees packed for her. By the time she’s 1, it will be so much harder. This is our brief window for manageable long flights with her for a while! I even braved flying back alone with the girls, so I could stay a few extra days after M had to get back to work. It went surprisingly smoothly (again, much of this was thanks to flying in business class), and I got lots of assistance from a really sweet flight attendant. I think this may be the only time I have ever filled in the feedback form on an airline website with something positive to say.

The 8-hour time difference is hard, too. The first morning we were there, E woke up for the day at 2 a.m. “Daddy, I’m not tired,” she said. “You have jet lag,” he told her. “My legs are fine,” she replied. And so they were up.

It was interesting to see how E has adapted to the London way of life this trip. She’s now used to walking everywhere (well, I walk, she rides on the Buggy Board), so having to get in and out of a car seat to go anywhere was a change. And certainly R had never been in a car that much. Sometimes I miss having a car, sometimes I’m glad we don’t have one, but you know what’s an under-appreciated aspect of having to drive everywhere? The car seat nap. 

E gave up naps when we moved here, but she was consistently falling asleep in the car this trip, either as a nap in the afternoon or if we were out for dinner and getting home late. Then we could just transfer the tired teddy bear to bed, no prolonged dawdle-y bedtime routine necessary. Our car-less lifestyle doesn’t allow for that to ever happen!

Later the same day as the Starbucks drive-thru, both kids fell asleep in their car seats and, I’m no fool, I wasn’t going to give up some gifted rare moments of peace and quiet, so when we got to the shopping center that was my destination, I just parked and sat in the car for a while. But then I got really hungry for lunch. Oh, look, a Panera Bread! Oh, look, you can order online from your phone…! I ordered my lunch, waited 10 minutes, and then literally ran inside, located the pick-up shelf, snatched the bag, and ran back to the car, praying no one had seen the two little ones asleep in a car by themselves and called the police in the 30 seconds I was gone. Mission accomplished. I felt properly suburban sitting there in a shopping center parking lot eating the Fuji Apple Chicken Salad I ordered from my phone.

My dad texted me that he was going to the grocery store, did I need anything? “Yes, come find me in this parking lot and sit in the car with the kids so I can go into Old Navy,” I replied. “And also more yogurt.” Grandpa to the rescue!


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