There needs to be a word for babies that aren’t really babies anymore: Nine to 12 months, when they can’t walk or talk, but they can stay awake for hours, pull a shelf of books down on their heads and stick their finger in electric sockets. I vote for “Destructo.” Our boy hit the Destructo phase six weeks ago. He used to be the easiest, happiest kid! He could play with the same toy for an hour. He could sleep in restaurants or be smuggled into movies. No more. Now he gets his kicks from sticking his face in a dog bowl, or opening a drawer, pulling out all the clothes, then opening and shutting it until he slams his finger.You don’t want to travel with Destructo. We flew cross-country two weeks ago and I am still drinking two glasses of wine every night to recover. OK, three. All right, it’s a whole bottle. It was just me and him on the way back. Think about holding a 25-pound fish that’s wiggling to get back into the ocean for six hours as the fish emits bloodcurdling screams and you’re stressing that everyone hates you. Does that sound like fun? The one silver lining was the 12 different times we went to the bathroom. Destructo really liked the sound the toilet made when it flushed so I kept flushing it even though I was probably harming the atmosphere. When toilet flushing is the highlight of any trip, you know you’re in trouble.
Some tips if you’re ever on a plane with me and Destructo. First, don’t empathize by telling me, “I know how it is, I just flew with our baby for 12 hours, although he slept the whole way.” Great! I’m glad your perfect kid slept the whole way and mine didn’t! UP YOURS! Second, don’t say, “Don’t worry about us, we’re used to this.” What does “this” mean? Being tortured? Just read your Vanity Fair and shut your piehole. Third, don’t keep glancing back sadly like you feel bad for me! Just don’t! Fourth, if he falls asleep, don’t walk by me and say loudly, “He finally fell asleep, huh?” Unless you want a dirty diaper stuck in your carry-on bag. Fifth, if you’re the pilot, don’t interrupt us every few minutes because you’re excited that we might get in four minutes early, or that we’re flying over the Grand Canyon when it’s pitch-black. You’re lucky that door was locked. And sixth, when it’s over, don’t pretend that Destructo was good as I’m holding clumps of my own hair in my hands and staring into space like a mental patient.
Here’s what you can do: If you’re the flight attendant, keep bringing me wine like the nice lady did throughout our flight. I don’t know where you are, honey, but thank you again! And thanks for not judging me as I stumbled off the plane like Heather Locklear. No jury would convict me.