We've just landed back at home after a wonderful family vacation in Alberta.
Mountains, aqua-coloured lakes, wild animals.
It was eight days of visual candy. And we ate it all up.
My iphone did, too—just ask my Instagram feed.
All said, the kids did very, very well. There were minimal blips in behaviour, and we made it through eight breakfasts, eight lunches, and eight dinners electronics-free. I had quietly set a goal that we be able to maintain our at-home rule for being without screens and gadgets during meals, but I wasn't confident we could pull it off.
I worried about the effects of time changes, routine shake-ups, and long restaurant waits. But I didn't have to. There was always a lot to talk about—like our plans for the day or our favourite parts of the days we had already left behind.
They were so good about rolling with the punches: the unexpected rainfall, the lack of movie time in the cabin without cable, the long car rides. They enjoyed each other's company, and were thrilled to have our undistracted and undivided attention. They also had the added gift of travelling with a grandparent, and new bonds were created along the way.
But don't let my words, or the above photo, fool you into thinking it was all easy. It's always challenging to put your family outside their comfort zone, and it can be downright intimidating when you're doing it in front of an audience.
And travelling with a rowdy, exuberant, stubborn, fearless three-year-old just ups the ante/sweat/tears for everyone. Based on her performance on a flight just over a year ago, we had reason to fear the four hour journey there and back. And although she redeemed herself on the flight to Alberta, there was a good foot-stomping, arm flailing, screeching episode that came just as another row of screeching toddlers had quieted.
I scooped her out of her seat beside JB, who looked at me like he wanted to throw me up against the emergency exit and kiss me passionately with gratitude, and ran for the cargo space at the back of the plane. We sat on the floor in the dark, as the flight attendants quietly walked around us, and we talked about how hard it was to sit for so long. We named all of our beloved stuffies at home, and talked about how excited they would be to see her. We sighed with contented delight at the thought of being reunited with our favourite pillows. We got excited about seeing her favourite cousin when we got home.
The sobs eventually subsided and she put her arms around my neck and whispered into my hair, You are my best Mommy.
And I knew we would be okay.
We headed back to her seat, where JB greeted us with a lollipop, and big sister offered her the pink headphones. A new episode of Toopy and Binoo popped up on the screen, and all was quiet again. I thought about returning to my book, but I realized there was only an hour of vacation left, so I put my own headphones on, and we laughed at Toopy together.
Undistracted and undivided.