Thursday, April 22, 2010

Pack Horse

People-watching in airport departure lounges can become an unintentional pastime for the zoned out and sleep-deprived traveler. Dad U is currently both, and it’s still before dawn on a drizzly California morning, when along comes a scene from my slowly-fading memory: toddlers with parents in tow. A distinguishing feature of families at this particular stage is the propensity of the parents to be on constant alert for the fun little game that Jr likes to play that involves bolting in random directions as fast as his little legs will carry him (ED: or her, this game is equal opportunity). It’s called a monkey strap for a reason. And no, you are not violating their civil rights if you use one… are preventing them from getting run over by a bus….. Another characteristic is the sheer mass of infrastructure that accompanies them. Dads traveling with toddlers can be ID’ed even without Jr being in visual range, solely on the basis of the pile of stuff they are on picket duty next to. Inevitably, such are the times when young Dad’s get to assume a new, unglamorous but unavoidable, role: The Pack Horse. While the wheel was a marvelous invention, there is only so much that can be stacked on a stroller. Your luggage, their luggage, carry-on’s, child seats, outerwear they have discarded, compulsive airport shopping by persons other than you (ED: please explain), lunch/snacks for the flight, etc etc, all have to be moved, preferably simultaneously. While you are usually only hauling for short stages, you end up getting quite the workout. Add long flights or hours seconded in transit lounges to the mix, and you get experiences that are either seared into your subconscious, or for obvious reasons, automatically blocked from recall by some kind of primeval survival mechanism. 
Fortunately, this stage of dadhood has a definite benefit. Ever seen a Dad with kids over 5 who is reed-thin?

Free tip of the day #1: Take advantage of any assistance or prioritization offered at any stage of the process: check in, the security line, the food court, or boarding. The way Dad U sees it is that you have signed up for numerous years of exit row-free travel, will spend a far greater time that you expect in bathrooms, plane isles, and the standing room at the back of the aircraft in an effort to do what you can to make the flight as smooth as possible for all concerned, so you may as well catch a break every now and again.

Free tip of the day #2: Find the elevators rather than attempt the escalators if you are pack-horsing. Trust me, that one was learned the hard way.
Dad U
-eventually they carry their on stuff

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