Bennett and I made our maiden voyage to Minnesota last weekend. It was a trip I was both anticipating and dreading. Bennett's headstrong personality made me more than a little nervous to punish poor, unsuspecting airplane passengers. I also wasn't sure how he would handle all the new people and strange places. When my mom volunteered to chaperone, I jumped at the opportunity for an extra set of hands and a break from my single-mom status.
I filled my bag with snacks and stickers and new toys. We read books about airports and sitting still on airplanes. We scheduled flights for pre-nap hours, when we were still fresh from sleep and pre-afternoon meltdown. Thankfully, all our preparation paid off. He was a four-star passenger, patient, quiet and just a touch curious.
We were also lucky to have my cousin and her husband offer their new digs as our temporary homebase. With all the excitement and new surroundings, Bennett didn't want to nap. At home, that's a recipe for disaster for a kid who prefers twelve hours of sleep at night and at least three hours of mid-day napping. Even without the typical sleep, he did great as I schlept him North, South, East and West, introducing him to aunts, uncles, cousins, friends and new babies. My friends and family introduced him to the Vikings, Kube, pets both large enough and gentle enough to confuse for a pet horse, and a true O'Rourke tradition, "cheers!"
We were quite the pair, spending a great deal of the trip just the two of us. To reward him for his unexpected flexibility, his ability to overcome bedtime meltdowns with cookies, and surviving a near tragedy at the playground, we enjoyed a date at the zoo. We didn't get the chance to explore my other favorite Minnesota attractions like the Twins, Lake Calhoun, Eagles Nest, Paul Bunyon, so at least we got to cross off this Minnesota Must.
I think he liked the bronzed animals as much as the living. Unless we are talking about the giraffes. This kid loves giraffes. "They tall!"
More than the monkeys or the moose or the other amamals, more time with Grandma June was a must. We got lots of quality time together with suitcases, flash lights, and hammas. Of course, I neglected to take any pictures until it was time to start saying our goodbyes. Bennett was so excited to have grandma put on his socks, I had to take a picture. Thank goodness I did because it might have been the closest I got to a smile.
When we tried to take a real picture, he wouldn't sit still. He wanted to be the one capturing the moment.
Too bad he was taking the picture with a transistor radio; it was definitely a trip worth documenting. Now, we'll just have to hope he cooperates again next year. It was such a success, we are hoping to make it an annual tradition. I feel so lucky to have friends and family that might have to wait months and years to visit, but still feel like not a minute has passed. Even hundreds of miles away, I know just how blessed I am to have them in my life, and now Bennett's too.