We are home from our trip. I am still processing it, as it was a mixed bag and involved a lot of sleep deprivation right at the end, so I’m jet lagged and tired.
Pea and I are uncomfortably concluding that we did not do a good job parenting Spud while away. Strange foods, new locations, restaurant meals, and the expectations and requirements of the others we traveled with lead to Spud’s needs being compromised too frequently. Too many meals in a row where he wasn’t fond of the new options, was distracted by the new sights and sounds, and where we were distracted by trying to keep the peace in a public space rather than focused on his nutrition. Too many days (in a row!!) where his nap was on the road, in a carrier or the car, and shortened by more than half as a result. Too few moments of calm, with him on our lap reading and drinking. Spud is chronically under hydrated, and drinks most reliably while listening to stories. Too few offers of liquid during long days of touring. No real replacement beyond water for when Spud started refusing the European milk.
Spud had fun on the trip. He loved the corner of Pickled Fish Country we spent some time in before continuing east. He liked meeting all of his distant relatives, seeing many church towers (“Tick tock! Ding dong!”), and running on cobblestones. He demanded long outings in his stroller (which he calls “dodoyne”, unclear why, similar to his “nanu” for lawnmower) (“red dodoyne!” “Outside! Red dodoyne!” Clambers into stroller and looks at us expectantly).
Spud also got sick. He (and I) had the runs from day three in Historic Seat of Spud’s Patriarchy. We did not switch to bottled water til day seven, which was probably a mistake, but hard to know what was (and still is) causing our digestive upset. Spud spiked a fever on Friday afternoon, while we were out visiting a second cousin’s house in a town an hour from our hotel. Not wanting to disrupt the day, and not realizing just how high his fever was, we held him, let him nap in the car seat, and kept him outside where it was cooler as he was fractious and sad at the dinner table. We only got home at 8 pm, when we were able to measure his fever, which had clearly worsened on the drive home. Scary high, floppy kid, hospital visit. Overnight with a litre of saline IV and pediatric observation, and he perked up a lot. A viral infection that has left him with a brutal cough – we took him to the clinic this morning to check up on it.
We left Monday with a much improved Spud, and realized on the plane we hadn’t accounted for a meal he’d need, a time zone confusion. We cobbled together a day of seventeen snacks, and continued to try to hydrate him better.
Some of this was not our fault. We can’t prevent viruses from existing in the world. Spud is a busy and distractible toddler who has just entered a fussier eating phase. Two of the three shitty naps were because of a running miscommunication between the myriad groups of people, where we had been told we’d be home by nap, and only got back to the hotel well past Spud’s bedtime. Had we known the actual days’ events before leaving, we would have sat at least one of them out.
But some of it is on us. We didn’t pay close enough attention to what Spud was (or wasn’t) drinking. We didn’t speak up to demand a different timeline once unreasonable timelines became clear. We thought we’d pay for stretching Spud’s resilience in disrupted nights or a fussy kid. We didn’t anticipate him getting sick, or so very sick.
I’m working from home today to help our nanny navigate the combo of sickness and jet-lag, while still trying to comfort Spud with some solid routines. He’s a bit whiny and a bit clingy, but he’s also cheerful and chatty and curious.
I’m relieved he’s generally ok, exhausted from the twinned sleep deprivation and stress of an overnight vigil and then trans-Atlantic travel day, and fighting my own jet lag and gastrointestinal discomfort.
The trip was a lot of fun, and I’m glad we went. I’ll post a happier touristy update if I get to it, but my reflections have been on parenting while away and that’s why I started there.