Good parenting, as anyone will tell you, is all about flexibility. And bribery. And Cheerios. Yes, that’s it: flexibility, bribery, and Cheerios. Am I forgetting anything here? Oh, yeah, mindless repetition. If you haven’t the ability to listen to the same mind-numbing song, read the same stupid Elmo book, or feed the baby the same icky goop over and over again without wanting to eat a plastic choking-hazard sandwich, you might want to skip the whole Having a Child thing. Just a thought.
For the rest of you, let’s focus on flexibility. This trip has required lots of it. Since everything revolves around Hannah’s unpredictable sleep schedule, our plans change constantly. Meals get delayed. Nonstop adjustments get made. Logistics are discussed endlessly. That’s the kind of thing that used to send me into a panic, now I just sort of shrug and get on with it. If that means I can’t go snorkeling until tomorrow or the next day: waah waah, boo hoo, poor me.
Dinner tonight consisted of something called spatchcock that the waiter joked was made of the annoying birds the scavenge for crumb under every table on Green Island. Afterward, Sarah and I planned to put Hannah to bed and finally have some time for ourselves. Maybe drink a glass of iced tea and play a board game. You know, really go wild.
Hannah was having none of that. She wanted to play. She wanted to read. She wanted to watch the Americans beat the Russians in Miracle on Pay-Per-View. When we put her in the pack-n-play, the flail-and-wail was so violent and lasted so long that they probably heard it on the mainland. It was all our fault, and we knew it. The trouble was, as long as she could see either of us from her crib, she wouldn’t cool down. But we could not leave our child alone in a hotel room. That’s the kind of thing that leads to international media frenzies. So we cranked up the sound machine, took our wine and our board game into the bathroom, and played on the floor.
"That’s pathetic!" you might say. "You let your child call the shots so much that you’ll let her hold you hostage in a bathroom? Grow a pair, you weenies!"
I would say that Hannah didn’t ask to be dragged on this trip, but she is being asked to adjust to new circumstances every day. The onus falls on us to adjust. Hence: the importance of flexibility.
Besides, the bathroom was larger and more luxurious than our bedroom at home. Hannah was asleep in two minutes, and we stayed in there for at least an hour.