Travel days. Not one of my favorites. Traveling isn't so bad if I'm headed out alone, but add a Dudette to the mix and we're talking about six year-old stress and headache. I kid you not.
Plus, there's the direction. Heading north means the trip is just starting and adventure awaits. There are grandparents, an aunt, uncles and a beloved cousin at the other end of the journey. There are visits to parks and museums, restaurants to eat at, gifts to open and just plain fun to be had.
But, then the day comes when its time to go from north to south; to head home again. It begins with packing, which means hunting down the gaming unit that's gotten itself lodged between the pillows of the couch somehow.
It means convincing said six year-old that leaving the Easter baskets behind and putting the hordes of candy in a zip top bag won't make it taste any different. It means waiting for the wails to die down after ducky has been put in a suitcase and will now be squished because there's no room for him, bear and bunny in the backpack.
Somewhere in there it also means packing one's own bag, stripping the bed, saying good-byes and rushing out the door. After all, the first destination is one of the busiest airports in the U.S.
After all that, breakfast is missed. Totally forgotten. Oops.
The worst part of 'oops' is that there isn't time to eat at the airport either. The intention is there, as is the hope of something, even a stale, day-old muffin from some over-priced kiosk.
But, the lines for the ticket counter are long, giving an idea as to what's coming at security. And there it is. Even though Dudette doesn't have to take off her crocs, those five seconds saved don't do much for us.
People inch along, waiting for their turn to put their belongings in bins, then be scanned with some new-fangled wrap-around device. Arms are held high, like in the midst of a stick-up.
Dudette, being just a child, is shuffled through the regular metal detector, me tagging along behind. It makes one wonder what's so bad about the other that it's safe for adults but not children.
Once everything's gathered again, the race is on. Travelers weave their way around slower walkers as they try to make a flight on time. We follow in their wake, Dudette pulling her princess suitcase behind her, me checking the gate numbers and wondering why we always end up at the last gate in the terminal. Every time.
Finally we're on the plane. We've learned about how to use our cushions as flotation devices and why we can't sit in an exit row. We've been told that drinks will be served. Drinks? Just drinks? My stomach growls. Dudette would normally think that was funny, but hers drowns mine out.
The solution, Easter candy. Yes, I'm a great mother, feeding my daughter chocolate and sugar for breakfast.
Six hours after leaving the northern climes, we're back home. Home in the south, where the temperatures are in the mid-sixties, the trees are budding and the grass is already green.
Dudette stays outside while I head to the kitchen, grab her a Quaker Big Chewy Bar and bring it out to where she's sitting, tired and hungry.
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