Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Flying with a mini toddler

Do you sense a theme here on this blog? Yes, we fly a lot. We have horrible carbon footprints for that reason, which I hope is somehow offset by our other lifestyle choices. In any case, I’d like to share my advice for flying with walking babies who still can’t really talk and don’t understand the seatbelt sign.

1. Fly with a partner, if possible. It is awesome to be able to take a break from baby wrangling before you meltdown, yourself.

2. If flying alone with your 18 month old, try to rumple your clothing and hair more than normal, so you look as haggard and frazzled as possible. This will help convince nearby passengers, and possibly flight attendants, to give you a small break (perhaps entertaining the child while you pee, for instance).

3. Request a bassinet ahead of time (even if your kid is far too large to fit into one). At the check-in counter, remind the checker-inner that you have requested said bassinet. Also offer to give up your bassinet seat if they can supply you a spare empty seat next to yours (the bassinet seats are in the bulkhead, so the airlines like to offer them to other people for an extra fee). If they say that the flight is full and there are no bassinet seats, remain calm but convey silently your extreme fear of the prospect spending several hours with an energetic, wiggling child in your lap. If you are lucky, the checker-inner will feel bad for you and make extra efforts to rearrange things so you have a good seat. 
Miniature adult-like items, such as a little roller bag, are a massive hit. (Thank you, Granny!)
4. Spend a lot of time packing interesting, new, small toys for your child in the hopes that they will play quietly in the seat. Don’t spend a lot of money, though, because invariably your time and effort will be completely wasted, and the child will just throw everything into the aisle and whine that he wants something else entirely.

5. Order more wine.

6. Roam the aisles, batting the child’s hands away from exploring sleeping strangers’ limbs and underseat luggage.

7. Go in the bathroom and let him unravel an entire roll of toilet paper, then roll it back up in a giant lump, and furtively exit when no one is looking.

8. When the seatbelt sign comes on mid-flight and the child kicks and screams and refuses to be held or sit buckled into his extra seat (if you’ve got one), let him play on the floor between your feet, holding him with your legs to prevent him from becoming airborne during turbulence.

Oh yeah, there are also cartoons.
9. As long as he doesn’t weigh too much, older babies seem to be perfectly fine sleeping with their feet hanging over the edge of the bassinet. You will, of course, be much too worried about them leaping out of the bassinet the moment you shut your eyes to sleep, so instead watch some awesome in-flight movies or read a mindless novel. And maybe have some more wine.

10. When all else fails and your darling child has a tantrum in the aisle because he isn’t allowed to open the infant life vest the flight attendants have so thoughtfully given you, practice your Zen breathing, smile calmly at people giving you terrible “control your child!” looks, and tell them to go to take a long walk off a short pier in your head.

11. And lastly, flights, like childbirth, don’t go on forever.

Have a great time!

Monday, 15 April 2013

How to be a memorable surf student

Sometimes the world sucks, so I take a bit of my own advice, and think about something funny to prevent descent into a black hole of sadness. And I remembered that I owe you some advice on being a good surf student. This advice can also be applied to other types of instruction, such as ballroom dancing or sailing, increasing its value exponentially!

I mostly loved being an instructor for Surf Diva. It was inspiring watching women challenge themselves to learn a very difficult new skill, forming new friendships and strengthening bonds in old friendships through shared embarrassment, and laughing through the exhaustion of being repeatedly pounded into the sand by the Pacific Ocean. My hair became fantastically blond and I got extremely fit carrying boards, wetsuits, and tents to and from the van and the beach every day. But I didn’t love having to pretend not to be cold, repeating myself ad infinium, or narrowly avoiding stingrays every few minutes. And every now and then, I had a gem of a student who almost broke my veneer of enthusiasm. Here are some suggestions for being unforgettable.

1. Arrive with a squadron of people who will sit on the beach—or even stand ankle-deep in the water—and yell suggestions at you, disguised as encouragement. Preferably, they will shout such helpful phrases as “next time, don’t fall!” or “stand up longer so we can get a video” or “come on, just pop up!” so that your confidence is completely deflated. Also, the instructor won’t have to do anything if your boyfriend just barks orders at you from his chair.
Be sure that your instructor is sufficiently cool before accepting any directions from her.
2. Decline to listen to your instructor whatsoever. Did they tell you to use your arms to push your chest off the board? Screw that; use your head instead! Did they suggest lying on the board and getting situated before the next wave arrives? Nah, best to just leap onto the board as the wave hits you so you just roll off the other side immediately. Then you don’t have to expend the energy of getting back out into deeper water.

3. Demand to paddle out beyond where the waves are breaking. Then, demand that your instructor dive down and touch the bottom. Threaten to cry if she refuses.

4. Arrive at the beach in full makeup, with carefully coiffed hair. This way, when your mascara runs down your face and your cheeks look like they are dripping off, you will scare everyone but your instructor away and thus score a large area of the surf to yourself!

5. Wear a very tiny bikini that will adjust itself such that it becomes useless for body coverage once the first wave hits you. Don’t bother checking on it. Instead, continue to flash everyone at the beach too shy to point out that you are basically naked.

6. To get out of giving your instructor a tip, tell them you’ll leave their tip at the office. Then go shopping at Gucci instead.

This is a picture I took of a postcard. I encourage you to do the same after your surf class, instead of bothering with actual photos of yourself flailing about.

7. If you step on something slimy that wriggles and then you feel a sharp pain in your foot, remain calm and quietly tell your instructor you may have a small injury. Then show them your gigantic, gaping stingray wound, but suggest you keep surfing. This will cause the instructor to think you need the gravity of the situation explained, to entice you in to the beach. Upon learning that you have been stabbed by the venomous barb attached to a sea creature, totally lose it and collapse in a bleeding heap on the sand while your instructor frantically summons help. 

8. Get sucked out to sea in a rip current, with the hope of being rescued by cute lifeguards. Act disappointed when your instructor almost drowns herself rescuing you instead.

Once you have mastered these tips, you can move on to becoming a kook using advice from my previous post! See you in the water...