Well, Douglass Ali's parents survived their first big trip with him. What a relief! Thanks to everyone who offered so many good suggestions about air travel with toddlers on Baha'i Thought's Facebook Page.
Douglass Ali got to celebrate his 18th month with a trip to Chicago (very classy, yes?) The journey started in Boston with some anxious parents who thought they might miss their flight. Thankfully the flight was two hours late so that was no problem. It also gave us time to tire Douglass Ali out by letting him walk and run around the airport as much as he wanted to. He seemed to be having
a lot of fun exploring and saying "Hi!"
to every person he met ('Abdu'l-Baha would be proud I think).
During one of our walk/run sessions (my wife Maura and I took turns) we caught the eye of a salesman in a book store. This was one of those situations where you see a salesman or woman all alone in an empty store. If, as Michael Moore has suggested, capitalism is a love story, these souls are indeed the broken-hearted. He motioned for us to come in and then did a real song and dance routine with Douglass Ali about the books in the kids section. Douglass Ali picked this book called "Waddle" that when you
turn the pages, the animals move.
The salesman did such a good job that
I had to buy it.
We finally got on theplane and the little guy was fascinated. He smiled and looked all around pointing to this and that and commenting on it in toddler-speak. He also continued to say hi to everyone. Take off was the moment of truth and he did just fine. After about 20 minutes of the flight he fell asleep and slept the whole rest of the way, further evidence that somebody is looking out for us.
Once we arrived in Chicago we had a bit of a crazy adventure with our rental car trying to get the car seat in. Someone finally helped us and it turned out to be quite simple. We were on our way in a little red Jeep (I'd always been curious about driving a Jeep so that was fun). It was around 3:00am by the time we checked in and fell into bed.
The next day, Douglass Ali woke up full of energy and started to explore every nook and cranny of our hotel room. The bathroom as always was a favorite place for him to get into trouble including throwing his mother's iPod into the toilette. Another favorite was the safe which he would open and close and put various objects inside. By far though, his greatest fascination was looking out the huge window overlooking the city and Lake Michigan I believe. He would climb up on a chair nearby and spend a long time looking out and pointing at things.
We got a visit from an old college friend of Maura's who just loved Douglass Ali to pieces. She even helped out during a rowdy diaper change (changing his diaper is essentially a wrestling match these days).
The time finally came for us to go the Religion Communicator's Council Award Ceremony. We all got dressed up and Douglass Ali got to wear a suit and tie for the first time. He was a bit fussy during the ceremony so we let him wander the hotel a bit to blow off some steam. He did get to see dear old dad accept his Award of Excellence in Internet Communication though. After the ceremony we were joined by Ellen Price from the Communications Office of the Baha'i National Center and another college friend of Maura's for dinner.
On Friday got to take Douglass Ali to the Baha'i House of Worship outside of Chicago. We were very much looking forward to this part of the trip! As we approached the Temple, Maura and I
got very excited and started to play a game of who would see the Temple first. The anticipation was building and building. Finally it came into view and we both exclaimed that we had seen it at the same time. Perhaps Douglass Ali was showing excitement in a slightly different way. He suddenly threw up all over the place. Ah, parenthood. A moment of sublimity swiftly became one of horror/comedy.
Once we overcame our shock and got him cleaned up we made our way onto the Temple grounds. We took Douglass Ali into the Temple and enjoyed about 20 seconds of holiness before he began to get fussy. We then took turns having time in the Temple while the other parent spent time with him outside in the gardens.
It became clear that his favorite part of being at the House of Worship was the opportunity to climb up and down the stairs. I think my new nick-name for him will be "the Stair Master". Wait until this kid gets a look at the Terraced Gardens at the Baha'i World Center in Haifa, Israel. He will be in stair climbing heaven for sure.
We had an early flight so our visit was short and sweet. We raced to the airport and again found that our flight was a bit late which gave Douglass Ali some time to wander around. He met all kinds of interesting people and charmed them thoroughly. The flight home was not as easy however. He was awake the whole time and it took all of our skill to keep him happy and entertained. Near the end I had to give him my watch and Baha'i ring to mess around with and Maura had to take him up and down the aisle of the plane a few times. Luckily the flight was only about two hours and the passengers nearest to us were very patient and kind.
All in all it was a wonderful adventure and not a bad way to mark our son's year and a half on this planet.
"Praise be to God, those two faithful birds have sought shelter in one nest. I beseech God that He may enable them to raise an honoured family, for the importance of marriage lieth in the bringing up of a richly blessed family, so that with entire gladness they may, even as candles, illuminate the world."
(Abdu'l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu'l-Baha, p. 120)