Travelling toddler

1:20 PM

So in my Diwali summary entry I mentioned one of the lessons I learned this trip is that traveling with a 2.3 year old is significantly more challenging than doing so with  5-6 months old baby.
I did both, give me the baby anytime. Back in 2009, December to be exact, we took a Christmas family trip to Manali along with DH’s 2 brothers and their respective families, meaning a total of 6 grown ups and 4 kids. Ishita was 5.5 months then, my main concern was that the car seat came along with us as the road trip from Delhi to Manali is a long one and a solid part of it is dizzying mountain roads, in a worry to not get too much luggage as we were  going with just two cars, we packed intelligently: one big suitcase for DH and me plus Ishita’s diapers, and one smaller bag for all of Ishita’s clothes her 5 bottles and enough formula for the first week as we really didn’t want to run up and down the Mall in Manali to figure out where we could get some. Throw in a few stuffed animals, and that was it. Provided you aren’t a germophobe that is, which luckily I’m not, it was just a matter of having the bottles handy during the trip, the formula dispenser full and at the ready to fill bottles on the go, and a sponge and dish soap handy to wash the bottles in our room. Ishita as a 5.5 year old was stationary, pretty content to be in whoever’s arm wishing to cradle her, slept anywhere, and was pretty content watching her cousins antics and marvel at anybody cooing to her and giving her attention, all we had to be careful of was for her not to get cold up there…easy peasy! The second leg of that same trip had us back in Delhi and in the night train to Lucknow, and then back to Delhi and Bangalore, all of it easy, our child was flight proof, train proof road trip proof and crowd proof…bliss.

Now of course our 3 recent relocations across the country should have clued us in on how things would not have gone down so easy, between July last year and August this year Ishi has become more and more demanding while in transit and in unfamiliar places, and luckily a part of me was aware of it while packing our suitcases and cabin luggage, I was initially thinking to do without packing my netbook, but remembered that Ishita might want her dose of wake up cartoons, and would probably not show any reason at 7am when we would try to explain that it would have to wait until we all go downstairs, so the netbook went in my purse, her Dora the Explorer backpack filled with her favourite books and her favourite stuffed toy, a big frog was part of her entourage. The airport actually had her all exited because it is full of “ion” which is short for avion in French and means airplane. The executive lounge our Kingfisher frequent flyer status allow us to enter was entertaining, and the breakfast rolls her favourite food. When time to go into our own “ion” though things were a bit different, freshly experienced from our recent move to Mumbai I knew what to expect, she is 2 years old, pays a seat, but will refuse to sit in it during take off and landing, screaming bloody murder if you try to fasten the seat belt on her. Fortunately, airlines companies in India do understand this and they have no problem with parents to continue holding the child tight in their arms the same way they would with a child below 2 years of age, and no to all parents considering to fly in India coming from abroad, they do not do the lap belt extension like done abroad, you just hold your kiddo tight…works for me. The advantage of having a toddler seat paid in which your tots will not agree to spend much time though, is that after take off you just lift your arm rest and twist your body and it makes your flight more comfy, and because toddlers can’t really be trusted with a meal tray, that means you have one extra tablet to spread yours. But back to Ishita in the plane, well she sat on her seat for a little while at least, Mr Frog was the one strapped in the seat belt for take off and landing however, and on the flight back she actually screamed when I didn’t strap him, and did it herself.
We stayed with my BIL and family fro 2 days in Delhi, Ishita was happy, wanted to play with her decisively too old cousins who ignored her, but was still fresh and happy to go along with the whole trip idea, there were new toys to play with, and she even decided to be on her best table behaviour and ate at meal time.
And in the train we went on the night of day 2, we tried to point out to her it was a “choo choo” train, but I don’t think she ever got it, to her it was a weird looking blue thing, nothing like her Thomas the engine toy or Dora’s blue train, she started feeling a bit shy in the train itself, and not too sure about sleeping there, but at about 10.30pm she was beat and sleep got her, but god forbid I removed my arm from around her for several hours, so I almost left my arm to gangrene (kidding) and tried to keep my big grown up body balanced on the edge of the berth while she took the whole space, we spent the night, and she drank her bottle at 6am as usual…and speaking of bottle, these individual packs of soya milk rock!
We reached the in-law’s place, and she shied away from all grown ups, wanting to play with her 5 years old cousin, but she was tired and instead stayed safely in my arms where I suddenly noticed she felt hot, really hot…and yup she greeted her grand parents with a viral fever that had everybody (but me) on panic mode. And of course had Ishita even fussier than usual, she spent the 7 days we were in Lucknow wanting nothing to do with most grown ups, spending her time watching her favourite cartoons on my netbook and playing with her cousin, of course being a bit sick she decided not to eat, normal food, going for potato chips, and bread whenever she was really in the market for a munch. the day before Diwali we sensed she was really reaching her breaking point when it came to strangers, strange place, and the lack of home feeling, we visited two relatives house, and by the end of it she was screaming, and slapping any hands that were not mom’s or dad’s away, the same scenario repeated on Diwali, the only issue is that Indian families do not understand boundaries, and think babies and toddlers are cute little things that need to be teased, pinched on the cheeks, patted, poked, and engaged at all time, and if the said toddler is moody and just slap you away it seems to be appropriate to say something along the line of “Sho Shweeeeeeeeeeeeeet” and engaged into more patting and poking. I tried diplomatically to explain that she was a bit sick and moody and that it was best to leave her alone, but while it put an end to the poking and pinching attempts, it didn’t stop the relatives trying their best to get her happy again by being in her face, and trying to tempt her with treats she didn’t care about…yup even chocolate didn’t warm her to the aunties.
By the morning of the 27th she was at her moodiest best, she spent as much time she could trying to lure me back upstairs in our room to watch cartoon as she could, avoiding visiting relatives like the plague, and fussing a storm when we were waving good bye to a huge guard of honour composed of all family members and relatives, she only started relaxing when we reached the airport in Lucknow, and she did away with a whole bag of potato chips bought at a snack counter, and then another half pack of corn chips inside our flight, she lost patience with the whole flight when we were in transit in Delhi, and slept the second leg of the trip until the flight touched down in Mumbai, as soon as we reached home at 12am I might add she was business as usual, and the first thing she did was grab her toy story DVD, which we gently explained would have to wait the next day, and she was for once in the past 10 days cooperative again.
So 5 months old do deal much better with travelling than a 2 year old, toddlers need much more comforting things from home. I just hope she’ll do better by next July we are supposed to go there for her birthday and have a long awaited party for a sea of relatives, that I suspect will just come for the food, hopefully school will make her a bit less shy with strangers.


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