Toddlers. They’re an interesting breed of humans, aren’t they? These tiny, messier versions of other humans make everything in life an adventure.
I had a play date with a friend of mine last week who has a son seven weeks older than our daughter, Avery.
Originally, I suggested a nice dinner out with our adorable toddlers, but my friend wasn’t about that life.
“We don’t go out to restaurants, right now,” she said. “It’s too hard at this stage.”
I totally get it. Avery is 15 months old and hasn’t quite grasped the concept of appropriate public behavior.
But this is where my friend and I differ. I still take Avery everywhere. Sure, other diners may not like our toddler intensely staring them down from the next booth. Other shoppers may not like her loud grunts and shrill cries for whatever happens to be just out of reach of the shopping cart. But I’m somewhat unapologetic.
I don’t mean to sound rude, but I kind of think everyone can get over it. Toddlers are going to cry. They’re going to misbehave. They’re going to squirm, want out of their chair, then want back up in their chair. They’re going to throw food on the ground, want to pick it back up and then eat it. And they’re going to throw a fit if they don’t get their way. I feel like people should just embrace it and understand that these interesting little beings come with their own rules and codes of conduct. I don’t think parents should have to avoid public outings simply because they have a toddler.
So even though it can be stressful, we take our toddler anywhere we go, all the time. Although she’s pretty well behaved, Avery has her moments. But how is she to learn appropriate public behavior if we avoid public places?
Now, let me be clear, we aren’t taking our daughter to quiet, sophisticated restaurants, at this time in her life, but we do take her to family-friendly ones.
We also take her on trains, and planes, and excursions while traveling. Not only do we refuse to avoid public places during her toddler years, we refuse to stop traveling. In fact, I am motivated to travel even more with our loud, messy, rambunctious tot.
Yep, you read that correctly… I am that crazy parent who wants to travel more now that I have a squirmy, stubborn mini-human.
She’s a little sponge right now. She observes and absorbs everything around her. Even if it doesn’t seem like it, toddlers are learning new things every day from their environments.
We have been traveling with Avery since she was two months old. Traveling with her now is a lot easier in some ways and so much harder on other ways.
When she was an infant, flying with her was a breeze. I would nurse her on take off and she would instantly fall asleep. We would go sightseeing and she would sleep in the carrier… The kid slept all the time… With one big exception. She refused to sleep at night in a hotel. She didn’t sleep through the night for the first nine months of her life, and on vacation, she slept even worse.
Now, as a toddler, Avery is finally sleeping through the night, and does pretty well in hotels. (Thanks God!) But she is mobile now. She doesn’t want to be constrained to a carrier or a stroller. She doesn’t like to sleep in the plane anymore. In fact, she wants to walk the aisles, play in the floor and does not like to sit still ever. So plane rides are a challenge. We haven’t done a long, overnight plane ride, yet. But it’s coming. In fact, it’s already booked. We will venture overseas in August for a two week trek through Germany, Czech Republic and Poland. I would be lying if I told you I wasn’t a little worried about the plane ride and the jet lag, but it will be a learning experience… Not only for our little sponge, but for us, as well.