Family and Parenting Category
Pickles and Hiccups
Vacationing with a toddler is no vacation. That is if your
idea of a vacation is lounging in the sun while sipping
tropical drinks and reading a juicy book.
Many resorts today now cater to parents with children,
providing various forms of childcare so that the parents
can actually enjoy doing what adults like to do. Problem
is, most resorts provide this service only to children
four and over. So if you have an almost 2-year-old, like I
do, you actually have to be a parent, round-the-clock.
This, to me, the parent of a daycare kid, is a foreign
From sunrise to sunset, for a full week, I had to be a
parent. That meant doing things that the muchkin likes to
do rather than things that giants like to do. Pool time
meant playtime. Dining meant kid-friendly. Drinking meant
alcohol-free – at least until the munchkin's bedtime,
which, due to the exhaustion of being a fulltime parent,
oftentimes was too darn close to my bedtime.
I don’t want to give the false impression that vacationing
with a toddler isn’t a worthwhile experience. Quite to the
contrary, it, for me, was one of the best experiences I’ve
had as a parent.
Sure there were times that I longed for the concept of
vacation that I once knew. Being a fulltime parent, even
on vacation, is work. But it is rewarding work.
There are many moments of this vacation that I'll treasure
forever. Hearing my son giggle when he says pickles and
hiccups, because, well, because they're sound funny.
Seeing him laugh uproariously when he spills ice down his
T-shirt. Watching him swim on his own, albeit with the aid
of a flotation device, for the first time.
When the vacation came to an end, I was ready to go home.
But that’s true of almost any vacation.
The last day of our vacation was a challenge. We had an
early checkout time and a late flight home. That meant a
full day with no place to call home.
We learned two valuable lessons on that last day.
The first is never plan to spend a day somewhere without
first calling to see if it’s open. We drove over an hour
to a children’s museum only to encounter a true Wally
World experience. A sign at the front gate informed us
that the museum was closed for improvements. I now know
how Clark Griswold felt when he confronted a moose telling
him, “Sorry folks, park’s closed.” You want to punch
something. Of course, we had no back up plan and some five
hours to kill. As it turns out, disaster turned into a
wonderful experience. We ended up being steered to a
nature center that gave The Toddler the opportunity to
chase butterflies and touch a baby alligator.
The second lesson is that there is no such thing as
lugging too many diapers. Because you never know when you
will need that extra one. Like at the airport, while your
plane is boarding.
This latter lesson we learned, unfortunately, too late.
We’d gotten to the airport in plenty of time, arriving at
around 5 PM for our 7:45 PM flight. We thought we were
fully prepared. We had plenty of snacks. Most importantly,
or so we thought, we had a portable DVD player.
At around 6:45 PM we (and by “we” I mean Mommy) changed
what we (and by “we” I mean Daddy) thought would be the
last diaper of our trip. But at around 7:25 PM, on the
verge of boarding, the munchkin gets into that distinctive
squat. Mommy and Daddy both eye each other, and then our
fear is confirmed when the munchkin makes the official
Okay, no need to worry. We’re fully prepared travelers.
The plane won’t be taking off for another 20 minutes.
Wrong. Mommy is frantically searching through the
backpack. I look warily. What is it?
“I don’t think we have another diaper,” Mommy says.
“How could you not pack enough diapers?” Daddy blurts
unthinkingly. The day had been a long one and the munchkin
had used up what we thought to be a generous supply of
“We’ve got to do something and do it fast,” I add. “The
plane is boarding.” Did I mention that I am Master of the
Mommy looks annoyed.
“We could just wipe off the poop and reuse the diaper,” I
Okay, so I flunked Parenting 101.
Mommy looks more annoyed.
“We can’t just wipe off the poop and reuse the diaper,”
she informs. Then she goes into SuperMommy routine. She
finds a nearby parent and asks if they have any extra
diapers. No. She grimaces and looks for other toddlers in
the vicinity. There are none to be found.
“We’ve got to do something,” I say, throwing in my final,
worthless, two cents.
Mommy nods, certain now that she’s married to the Dumbest
Man on the Planet. Then she picks up the munchkin and
scampers to the restroom.
Meanwhile, I’m sitting there holding all the baggage,
nervously looking at the seconds tick away as I hear the
last boarding group number called.
About five minutes later I see Mommy chugging like a
locomotive. the munchkin is flapping around in her arms,
laughing like a hyena. Racing in an airport, apparently,
to a toddler, is even more fun than saying pickles or
Breathless, Mommy asks what is going on. I tell her that
they just called our boarding group. We can get on the
plane. She breathes a sigh of relief and as we walk toward
the plane she tells me of her heroics. On the way to the
bathroom she spotted a family with a toddler. She stopped,
desperation dripping from her eyes, and asked if they had
an extra diaper. They did, and it was even the munchkin’s
size. Crisis averted.
We’re back home now, and it feels good to be home, just
smiling at the thought of pickles and hiccups.
Randy Richardson's debut mystery, LOST IN THE IVY, won the
“Fresh Voices” Book Award and the Mate E. Palmer
Communications Award in 2006. His non-fiction articles and
essays have been featured in magazines and websites
including Chicago Parent, Absolute Write and Sanity
Central. A government attorney by day, Randy also serves
as president of the Chicago Writers Association, a
regional non profit writers organization. Visit his
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