Mary already filled you in on how awesome our vacation was. I can’t disagree. I was actually surprised by how great it went. I figured at some point, Susan would either:
a) Absolutely lose her shit on the airplane, thereby making us “those people.”
b) Freak out in the new environment and not get a wink of sleep, making her and everyone else tired and miserable for the entire vacation.
c) Get sunburnt, making us terrible parents of a lobster baby.
Miraculously none of those things happened. She was an angel on the airplane. She slept through the night the entire week. She escaped without a sunburn (Mary Jane and I, regrettably, also escaped without getting one inkling of a suntan because we are pale like vampires and allergic to sunshine). In summary, everything was dandy. Until the day we went home.
A trip that began with Susan laughing and playing on the way to Florida Tuesday ended with our baby screaming her head off in the car – like she never has before – on the way home Sunday. It was kind of like our own version of Saving Private Ryan, except instead of getting Matt Damon out of Nazi Germany alive, we were just trying to get our screaming baby home without losing our sanity.
It all started the second Mary Jane and I woke up on Sunday, which was the day vacation ended. Actually, no, it started 51 minutes before that because my alarm never went off and we overslept by almost an hour. That should have been our first hint that things would soon unravel that day, but alas, MJ and I were too busy passing blame back and forth (calmly and rationally of course, as most pre-6 AM discussions always are) to notice the signs. So because I blew the wake-up call, neither one of us had time to shower.
Susan woke up about 30 minutes after us, and by that time MJ and I had made up (it was all my fault…that’s all I had to say). Things were good again, and from then until we got to the airport, they stayed that way. We curb-checked all seven of our bags without any trouble, but as Mary was getting our boarding passes, I got the feeling that I’d forgotten something. We had all four suitcases, the Britax baby carrier, diaper bag and the baby carry-on with toys, diapers, change of clothes for mom, dad and baby. Cell phone? Check. Driver’s license? Check. Book that I had no chance of reading? Check. Still…I couldn’t help but think that something wasn’t right. It wasn’t until I strapped on the baby carrier that I realized I didn’t actually have anything to put IN the baby carrier. I turned around to see my father-in-law waiting by the car, just staring at me. “OK, now I’m ready for Susan!” I said. I'm not sure he bought it.
When we got to the security check (Susan facing out in the carrier, bobbing in front of me), we ran into even more trouble with TSA. Let me backtrack a sec – when we went through our airport in Raleigh, Wife just told them that we had some baby formula in our bag. They said ok great, you go right on and board then. We could have also had liquid explosives and cocaine, but I guess we looked trustworthy enough to the RDU security crew to get the green light. The folks at the Fort Myers airport, however, take their jobs REAL serious. They pulled every single item out of our diaper bag, ran it through their bomb machine and tossed it all back in once it cleared (thankfully we’d gotten rid of the explosives and cocaine by that point). If you don’t know my wife very well, I’ll just say that she’s very “organized” and that every compartment in that diaper bag is for a VERY specific item. So 10 minutes later, after she put the bottles in the bottle pocket, the butt cream in the butt cream pocket and the random shit in the random shit pocket, we went on our way.
The flights home were fine. Susan played or slept the whole time and never cried. Then we deplaned in Raleigh, and I got the bags and left Mary and Susan at baggage claim with the bags so I could bring the car around and pick everyone up. I got the car and circled back around to the terminal, only to then find Mary clutching Susan at arm’s length in the universal “this baby just took a monster dump” hold. Mary waved me over and showed me some serious poo stains on her shorts. Susan was very proud of her work and gave me a big smile. Mary took off for the bathroom with Susan and left me with the bags. It took me three trips to get everything in the car, but it took Mary even longer to rid herself and the baby of the doodie. It turns out that Susan smuggled her own bomb through security.
|Thankfully, TSA is prepared for in-flight diaper bomb emergencies.|
We eventually got moving and headed back to Durham. We managed to weather the minor inconveniences with grace and dignity to this point in the journey, but the real problems started right about here. We had to pick up our dog from the vet at 6:30 p.m. SHARP, but it was only 4:30 p.m. when we left the airport. Mary Jane and I thought it would be a GREAT plan to stop by Target and get our weekly groceries while we waited, thus killing up to seven birds with one stone. As Mary would so eloquently put it later, “This was a good idea, in theory.”
I said earlier that Susan slept through the night in Florida. What I didn’t say was that she napped terribly. To a baby, naps are just as important as night sleep, and less of one or the other will eventually compound and turn your sweet happy baby into a fussy, crying siren. We failed to realize the level of sleep deprivation that Susan was dealing with, and she decided to let us know about five minutes after we finished shopping.
Literally the second that Mary Jane wheeled Susan out of Target, our baby lost it. She screamed. And screamed. And screamed. There was no soothing her. Pacifiers were powerless. Beautiful melody from mom? Might as well have cranked up Ashlee Simpson's greatest hits. A light, soothing touch? "DON’T TOUCH ME, ASSHOLE," Susan said. Then we figured if we started driving, she’d calm down. She didn’t.
At that point we still had about 45 minutes before we could get Oscar, and he was only 10 minutes down the road. So what do you do with almost an hour to kill and a screaming baby in the back seat? You drive around the Target parking lot, of course. And you drive in circles. But not regular circles. They have to be like special circles where the car doesn’t stop, but doesn’t jerk too much, either. Oh, and also, it’s Target so you’re going to have to dodge traffic and pedestrians, too.
Here is the plan my wife envisioned:
And here’s what I did:
Needless to say, I did not meet the stated goal of calming our baby. The conversation between my wife and I got steadily heated until it resembled something like this:
Husband: What do we do?
Wife: Just drive in circles!
Wife: Just drive in circles!
Husband: I am driving in circles!
Wife: NO! Not like that!
Husband: I’m driving in circles like you said!
Wife: WHY ARE YOU STOPPING!?
Husband: BECAUSE THERE’S A CAR COMING AT ME!
Wife: WHY ARE YOU GOING THIS WAY!?
Husband: YOU SAID DRIVE IN A CIRCLE!
Wife: THIS ISN’T A CIRCLE!!
Husband: I CAN’T JUST DRIVE AROUND IN A CIRCLE IN THE TARGET PARKING LOT LIKE AN IDIOT!!
Wife: TURN HERE TURN HERE TURN HERE WHY DIDN’T YOU TURN THERE!!??
Wife: BACK THERE YOU MISSED IT!!!
Husband: OK LIKE THIS??Wife: WHY ARE YOU STOPPING!? WHY DO YOU KEEP STOPPING!!!
Husband: THERE ARE CARS!! THIS ISN’T GRAND THEFT AUTO!!!
Wife: IF YOU WENT OVER THERE LIKE I TOLD YOU TO, THERE WOULDN’T BE ANY CARS!!!
Husband: SCREW THIS WE’RE STEALING THE DOG AND GOING HOME
So we probably lost our cool a bit, but I think we did great under the circumstances. In all honesty, the whole scene could have been avoided if I'd followed my wife's instructions from the get-go, but I digress. Susan screamed the entire way home until we got her out of her car seat and into the house. It was like everything she was supposed to do on the plane – and for some reason didn’t – she saved up for the last two hours of the trip.
In the end, she really just experienced what we've all felt at one time or another, which is that coming home from vacation sucks. So let's be honest...all three of us were all feeling it; Susan was just the one who said something about it.