how NOT to tell your tot you’re leaving for a few days

In ALL, RAISING HOPS INTO BEERS, TRAVEL by Stephanie Klein12 Comments

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I was driving the radishes to school yesterday, explaining that I’d be going on an airplane to California for two days, when Lucas’s lower lip started to tremble. "No, no, it’s okay. Mama will be back in two days. You can see me on the computer." Then he lost it, big fat tears.

"I want to go on airplane with Mama!"

"No, sweetie. You get to stay and play with Papa, Abigail, Norma, Megan, and Bikini."

"Noooooooo!" Inconsolable. I’m sure he’s over it by now, and maybe I shouldn’t have said anything at all. I was trying to let them know without making it a big deal.

"I understand that you sad, but Mama will be back soon, and I’ll even be bringing back toys. What would you like Mama to bring you?"

"A snake," Abigail chimes in.

"A snake?!" When Lucas hears me say this, he laughs.

"And how about you Lucas?"

"A turtle."

"A snake and a turtle it is."

"No, a snake and mouse for Abby," Abigail says.

"No, you each only get one animal."

She thinks on this, then says, "Okay, Mama. Abby wants one farm."

Lucas says, "Lucas want one airplane with Mama."

A YEAR AGO: Mulberry, Downtown Austin
5 YEARS AGO: Upper East Side, A Names, Purple


  1. I just read through your entire archive. All I can say is “thank you”. Lack of sleep but well worth it.

  2. I wonder how I would have responded. Lucas seems very sensitive. His favorite color is pink ya know.

  3. Yeah, so my babies are 15, 17 and almost 19…and it is still hard for them to fake the ‘stiff upper lip’ when I travel for work (more and more). And my sweet parents (70-something?) still worry and wait for the phone to ring telling them I’ve arrived safe and sound.

    The fact is, we’re a whole. When one piece of the whole is out of place, the whole has a hole. With sweet son in college this year, we have a hole that we are working to fill in – and with sweet daughter leaving next year – more readjusting. It’s not that we’re not fine and happy, just different.

    As much as I love traveling, there is simply nothing like coming home and regaining my place in our ‘whole’.

  4. I have similar conversations every day with my three year old as I drop him of at nursery;
    “Will you miss me?”
    So much, I’ll miss you so much.
    “What do you love me like?”
    I love you very much
    “Do you love me more than elephants”
    Yes, I love you more than elephants.
    “I love you more than baby elephants”
    Wow, thank you baba
    “Have a lovely holiday mamma”

  5. Hey Stephanie,

    On a completely different topic… I wanted to know your advice for moving in with a guy and what you learned from going from living alone to living with someone. I am taking the plunge and moving interstate to be with my other half after what feels like an eternity of late night calls and airports. Any thoughts?


  6. One farm – very smart, Miss Abigail! Great negotiation skills!

    In general, I too have learned that promising toys is a losing proposition. Next time, try promising something special you can do together when you come back. “When mama is done with work and comes back on the airplane, we can all go to the zoo together.”

  7. I hear advice all the time about how you can’t just leave without saying goodbye to your child, but it so often seems like more trouble than it’s worth! The days I’ve managed to just duck quietly out of the house and let my kids play happily seemed to have worked fine. I know when they wail as I’m leaving for work that it stops as soon as I’m out the door, so why did we all have to be upset? I like a sweet goodbye hug when I can get it, but more often than not anymore, I just sneak away and everyone’s happier.

    1. This is interesting! As a babysitter, it was such a pain when the mom, who read and heard plenty of advice about saying goodbye (mind you she’s a stay-at-home-mom who would just leave for errands and such) would say too many goodbyes (15 minutes before leaving, 5 minutes before leaving, at the door, and then again from outside would wave at the kids at the window). Now usually, the children (who now are 2.5 years old) didn’t mind but sometimes (like when they’re sick) they would just break down.

      It’s no wonder today on CNN they were discussing how people treat each other today (with selfish interest and not caring about the other person’s feelings) and apparently it is all Dr. Spock’s fault for advocating the way we raise children today (ie. the child is the center of everything, the child needs to feel good, etc).

      Anyway, that is not to say that saying goodbye to your children is bad, I just think sometimes it’s made too much of a big deal, which is why you end up with crying children sometimes.

      But Stephanie your children sure are adorable and I’m sorry Lucas took it so personally that you would be gone for a few days. But what’s best about goodbyes is the hello upon your return (as I just read on your facebook status, just too sweet!).

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