Written by Lana Dalley:
If you know my husband, you know that he wears cargo short every day. Like, EVERY day. It doesn’t matter if it’s 30 degrees or 90 degrees; it doesn’t matter if he’s got a meeting with an executive producer or he’s working from home; he’s always wearing his cargo shorts. And, to be fair, unlike the drunken, cargo-wearing, frat boy contingent, Tristan actually uses all of the pockets in his cargo shorts. Before getting in bed the other night, he laughed and said, “feel how heavy my cargo shorts are” and then handed them to me across the bed–they were, indeed, startlingly heavy. Eleven pounds heavy. At a friend’s house, he once spontaneously and simultaneously produced a string cheese and a flashlight from his cargo pocket. The guy knows how to wear a pair of cargo shorts, and he wears them every day. I love so, so many things about him, but this just isn’t one of them. (Once you’ve been married seventeen years, it’s okay to say stuff like this. We’re past the “I love everything about you” phase and just hoping to stay happy in the “I love almost everything about you and am willing to put up with the stuff that I don’t like” phase.) A while back, I reminded him that it was unacceptable to wear cargo shorts in Paris.
So, rather than spending time wandering the streets of Paris alone, he ordered some jeans and today they arrived.
He ordered four pairs, thinking that he would keep two and send two back. Without exaggeration, watching Tristan unfold the jeans and then figure out how to fold himself into them was like watching my cat get stuck in a paper bag and then try to work himself out of it. He’s obviously really pissed that he’s in the bag, but he’s too prideful to let you know and he mostly wants you to know that any awkwardness you’re witnessing is the bag’s fault. So, when Tristan tried on the first two pairs, he launched into a diatribe about jeans with “stretch”–“Wait. It says these have stretch in them. What does this mean? Seriously, why do these have stretch in them? Did I order the wrong ones? I thought I was ordering jeans. What does ‘stretch’ mean?” And I was like:
Before trying on the third pair, he held them up and was like “these look too dark. The wash is weird. I don’t like them.” And I was all (in my best non-chalant, “I’m not trying to make you look cool. I just want you to be you” voice), “I kind of like them. They’re distressed in a few places and that looks pretty cool.” In response to this, he held the distressed parts really close to his face to examine them; it reminded me of the way my grandpa would look at my cassette tape covers in the eighties, conveying a mixture of curiosity, disdain, and just a little far-sightedness. After examining signs of distress in his prospective jeans, Tristan was like, “Oh, yeah, um . . . I think those holes are supposed to be there.” And I was all:
He finally found a winner with the last pair. These particular jeans were from Old Navy, which is where he buys his cargo shorts, so I think they gave him some sort of emotional solace. They were a good fit and a good wash and, because they were from Old Navy and cost about $24 on sale, he didn’t feel too uppity about replacing his cargo shorts with denim. So, we had one pair, which solved half the problem, but he really needs two. At this point, I tried to make a helpful suggestion (in my kindest, most obliging “I know you’re making a huge sacrifice not wearing your f&*king cargo shorts to the most beautiful and romantic city in the world” voice) about obtaining a second pair: “Maybe tomorrow, you could go to Old Navy and see if they have any jeans in that same size/fit but a different wash. You know they fit well and you know you like them, plus if you go to Old Navy you don’t have to deal with the mall. And I’m pretty sure everything’s on sale there right now.” The look he gave me made me wonder if all those hours on Duolingo were paying off and I had suddenly starting speaking French. He seemed to have no idea what I was talking about. In a completely dumfounded tone of voice, he was like, “But why would I buy a different wash. I like these jeans. Why wouldn’t I just buy another pair of these jeans?” And I was all, “You totally could. But I was just thinking that, if you bought a different wash, then you’d have a little variety.” And he was like, “But why would anybody do that? It doesn’t make sense. Why wouldn’t I just buy the same jeans if I know I like them?” And I was all, “Well, sometimes people like variety.” And he was like:
And, I was all, “You’re totally right. You should go to Old Navy tomorrow and buy another pair of those jeans.” And so that’s what we’re going to do, because I love almost all the things about him, and I’m willing to put up with two pairs of those jeans for the next month.
People often ask us how we travel with four kids because it seems like a pain in the ass. And so I want to preface what I’m about to write by saying: IT TOTALLY IS. Please make NO mistake about that. It’s kind of terrible. For the longest time, I thought I hated flying; on a recent flight without kids, I realized that it’s not flying I hate, it’s flying with kids that I hate. Nothing about a 10 1/2 hour flight with four kids (and the 3+hours in the airport beforehand) is pleasant–although free booze on international flights does help–but being able to travel and live in a new country with your kids is pretty much the best. So, one of the ways we make the flight less horrible is by making sure that each kid (even the littlest one) has their own carry-on (something small enough that they can actually carry it through the airport). Here’s Dashiell’s backpack:
Let me break this down for you: when you have four kids, that means there are eight kid arms and four parent arms. Also, four kid mouths and two parent mouths. (I was about to break down the parent/child ear ratio, but it totally undermines my metaphor because kids are really freaking loud and yet they don’t seem to hear it as much as we do) There’s just not enough parent to go around. So, we figured out that the best way to have a good flight was to make sure that each kid has everything they need inside their own carry on. So, we pack each kid a variety of activities for the plane (a dinosaur sticker book for our toddler, a Highlights magazine for our six-year old, a new novel for our nine-year old, a MAKE magazine for our teenager, and sketch books for all of them), a bag of food, and basic toiletries (wet wipes, tissues, lip balm, etc…):
This is the best because it means that kids have everything they need at their fingertips and they don’t need to bother you EVERY. TWO. MINUTES. If, like us, you’re “the meanest parents in the world” and deprive your children of things like fruit snacks and fruit roll-ups and processed food on a daily basis, you can up the ante here by giving them those things on the flight (see above illustration for examples). When our kids realized that I bought fruit roll-ups for the flight, it was like Reverend Shaw Moore had suddenly allowed dancing again:
While my kids are mainlining high fructose corn syrup, I’ll be sipping Pinot Noir and catching up on The Affair. Happy travels, fellow parents!