We just took a trip to the happiest place on earth with our little fam. It proved to be just that--we witnessed a side of our son that we didn't know existed. He was talkative, behaved, excited, laughing, connected, and oh so much fun! We loved loving on him and Todd kept saying, "I like him so much!" To us, that's a big deal. We always love him....the "like" part is not always quite as easy, if that makes sense.
Our flights there were great--uneventful equals great. On our drive to the hotel, I had a stroke of genius....I called and requested that they remove the TV's from our room. Matthew is obsessed with buttons and the TV becomes a focal point for him, often to the point of abuse. They, sadly, turned down my request and said they are unable to remove furniture from the room. As I thought more about the idea, I became more convinced it would make a HUGE difference in our trip--every time we were in the room, we'd have to deal with Matthew's obsession, telling him "NO" every five seconds, pulling him off the TV, trying to keep him from pushing it over, trying to threaten him and other such negative parenting strategies. We had already committed to put our phones away, so this would serve as a continuation of our electronics purge. So when we checked in, I asked again....and, perhaps because of my pleading eyes (and batting lashes--JK), they said yes!
Engineering dude arrives at our room and I quickly realize just why they don't want to remove it--it is bolted to the dresser. He gets ready to unscrew it and I almost said to forget it, figuring he can't do THAT much damage, right? Well, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that was a naive pipe dream and I let him continue his efforts for a few minutes. I started to feel really guilty, however, when he needed to leave for new tools and came back with the head of engineering to try new strategies to remove the TV from the dresser. It quickly became clear that we were the first people to ever make this request...and I'm sure the last they would acquiesce to. I tried to let them off the hook and explained to the sweet lady who was the head of engineering exactly why we were doing this. She reassured me it was just fine....and made me feel like she sincerely didn't mind. She could tell I felt bad, so she reached over and gave me a big hug before continuing her efforts. We finally decided that removing the entire dresser would be easier--so they did. We then put Matthew down for a nap in his tent (yes, we travel with his full-blown tent and mattress--don't ask me how, but we managed). Well, he wasn't ready and somehow ripped the entire front door of the tent open and climbed out! Todd and I were panicked and flashes of sleepless nights started to bring on serious anxiety. How would we contain our little demonic sleeper (he literally does not relax and settle down if not fully enclosed and contained in his tent) if the entire front of his fabulous dreamland has just been destroyed?! Stroke of inspiration strikes Todd and he goes to find our engineering friend who donates the largest roll of duct tape you have ever seen to our sleeping cause. DAY SAVED! I already loved her for hugging me....now I love her even more.
The next morning, Todd goes out to try to buy some water so we can avoid the $5/bottle fee at the park. He runs into our engineering friend and she says that there really isn't anyplace within walking distance to purchase waters, but that she could get us some from their staff lounge for $1/bottle. Gratefully, Todd gives her a several dollars and she equips us with the max she felt comfortable snagging from their staff lounge. Even more love for this fabulous woman.
After a fantastic day at the park, we come back to our TV-less room and find a CASE of bottled water sitting on the desk from this fine, extra-mile, incredible mind reader of a woman. I'm telling you, she made my day. I feel so grateful that people like lady exist in the world. Though perhaps not a huge deal to her, it was a MAJOR deal to us.
Fast forward through our trip (which, I again have to say, was absolutely incredible and we have decided that we are going to take Matthew back for his birthday so that we can truly celebrate with him--we have finally found what makes him the happiest and it leaves us overjoyed and willing to do it a million more times). We are ready to leave. Packed up, breakfast eaten....and Matthew starts to fall apart at the seams. So does Adi....Liam is still holding it together. Take us to the airport--kids are running absolutely wild. We are those parents that I'm sure everyone was feeling sorry for or judging. Good news is that we didn't feel either one of those things. People were very kind. Just as we are getting ready to board the plane, Matthew starts to throw an EPIC tantrum--one that no amount of one-on-one conversation, try every therapy strategy we know, get down on the floor with him to try to pull him out of it....nothing we are doing seems to be helping him at all. He is screaming, crying, flailing, throwing his body on the ground, etc. Mind you, all of this is happening at the front of the Southwest line as we are standing there preparing for family boarding. So every person in that line is witnessing this little exchange as we try our darndest to help our child get a little control over his emotions. I finally picked him up, looked at everyone staring at us in the line, and said "I promise, he'll be fine once we are on the plane!" I got not a single dirty look back. Some stunned faces, but mostly kind ones. Comments like "we have kids" and other nice reactions followed. I was shocked. So what do I do? I burst into tears. Then I'm totally embarrassed. I think I was completely overwhelmed by the whole situation and so incredibly touched by the compassion of those that had every reason to be a bit crusty that they were about to board a plane with what appeared to be the devil in a child's body. I start walking down the jetway and am trying to hard to get control of my emotions when the kind business traveler behind me says, "you're doing great, Mom." I could hardly turn around to thank him....I tried, but I still couldn't talk through my blubbering. He probably thought I was a crazy lady and ungrateful, but I was so horrified at my own inability to maintain any sort of control over my emotions.
As we boarded, Matthew grabbed some guys phone--literally dove into his lap and down through his legs to try to grab his phone. I grabbed him as fast as I could and quickly tried to explain to the guy what happened (the look on his stunned face was priceless), but as he recovered from the shock of the flying child, he laughed and said it was no big deal at all. Again, I almost re-burst into tears, but managed composure until we got to our seat where I spent the next several minutes trying not to talk to my husband because I was worried it would open up the flood gates all over again.
During the flight, Matthew peed his pants. Completely leaked all over the place. We took him to the back of the plane and changed him, stripping him of his pants and he exited the restroom in a pullup and sweatshirt. The flight attendant laughed with us and chatted it up with Todd who is convinced it is his fault since he took him potty last. Well, our half-naked kid who never poops decides to relieve himself of pent up yuck at 37,000 feet. It was unpleasant to say the least, and I'd be shocked if no one noticed....but no one did anything but smile at us and laugh at the irony of this pantless kid and his Dad (who qualified himself for sainthood by taking his poopy child and inflexible self into a room the size of a coffin for an acrobatic diaper change).
People are good. People can be kind. Those that aren't, I think I will choose to ignore. Those that are, I wish I could somehow express how much it meant to me to be the recipient of some of that kindness. I wanted to run up and find that dude who had said nice stuff to me that I couldn't thank through my "tears with snot" (as a dear friend of mine so affectionately termed a legit cry). I kept trying to figure out how to get him a thank you note or something, but I'm sad to say that I wasn't fast enough on the draw to make that happen before he deplaned. I get it--not everyone will be nice 100% of the time, but if everyone tried--like our engineering friend, or dude in the jetway--then we are one step closer to making this world a better place.
There are days when I look around at the people around me and feel jealous because things, like travel, appear so easy. But I guess that "ease" isn't what shapes us--it isn't what life is all about. We are given what we need to grow. I feel like I did a bit of shrinking today as I didn't handle my children as well as I could have/should have in my exhaustion and impatience, but I did grow in that I learned from the examples of kind people around me who did a little bit to make the world a little better for this mamma.