The flight back to L.A. on Sunday went almost as well as the flight out, which leads me to believe that perhaps my children’s Stepford behavior is either a reflection of our parenting or of their rare love of sitting still for five straight hours. Nonetheless, it was not a trip I am anxious to repeat. Traveling that far with the boys is hard.
They love their grandparents and relished the time with them. Benjamin spent the entire time asking “Where Grandpa?” whenever he could not see either grandparent, as he called both of his grandparents by that name. My mother-in-law was probably relieved because at the beginning of the trip he had called her “the lady,” shortly thereafter upgrading her to her given name, perhaps to differentiate her from the other Grandpa.
And, we got to see some old friends and relatives we have not seen for a long time: cousins who came down from New York just to see us, the boys’ great-grandmother, J’s best friend and his family, and, most notably by Zachary’s standards, J’s brother’s family. While Zach barely acknowledged the presence of his aunt and uncle, he was completely smitten with his cousin. He actually has two cousins, but neither boy was interested in the baby, because she cannot walk yet, so she falls away into that category of baby-who-belongs-with-the-adults. But her sister is just a year younger than Zach is, and all they wanted was to play with one another, with Benjamin hopefully tagging along behind. It made me mourn for what might have been, were we raising our kids in Philadelphia, less than two hours away from these cousins.
But we are not. We are raising them here, three time zones away. By the time the kids adjust to a new time zone, it is time to turn around and fly back. I, of course, adjust sooner because there are always things that must be done on local time, but it does me little good, because I must also keep the time the boys are on. This translates to little sleep there, and even less when we return and there are no helpful relatives around, J is back at work, and the boys take a week to adjust. I end up burning the candle in two time zones.
To be honest, only one of the boys takes so long to adjust. Zachary has a strong internal clock, and changes like this are difficult for him. While we’re going for full disclosure: disruptions of all kind are hard for him. I spend most of my time with him putting out tantrums before they start. Others wouldn’t even notice it, as he just seems happy and excited, but it is a song we are familiar with by now. Zachary’s stress is underneath until it isn’t anymore, and even good things stress him out. We’ve put him through a lot of changes lately, hard for any child his age, but particularly difficult for him.
So, now we are back, and I am paying the price, both in my sleep and his mood. He will take a week to get back to normal, just as he does every time we take visits. Were we living closer, these would be regular weekend trips, and they would be smoother. But we are not, and so they are not.
Getting off the plane, breathing in drier, more temperate air, I was glad to be home, although how this can already be home is a mystery to me. It is a maze of boxes and unexplored side streets. Nonetheless, it is the closest we have right now, and I am glad we will not be moving or changing or transitioning for a little while. We need to spend a little time standing in one place – all of us. Zachary, however, was not so happy. “Why did we have to leave Grandma and Grandpa’s?” he asked. “Did they not want us there anymore?”
Benjamin has been moping about, frequently asking “Where Grandpa?” a question that seems to include both grandparents.
They’re at their home, baby. And we’re…? Sometimes it’s hard to tell.