Susie returns to long-distance travelling

·3-min read
 (Susie Lau )
(Susie Lau )

We’re going places again. There’s a ‘rush’ to airports, which are overstretched and understaffed but also happy to be running nearer full capacity. Airline staff are seemingly beaming at the long bag-drop queues. And the looks on parents’ faces are withered before holidays even begin, as they drag along their offspring, tethered to Trunkis and juice cartons. Now that I’m hemmed in by school holiday dates, I steeled myself for the first long-haul holiday with my daughter since 2019, to Los Angeles. She became fixated by the palm trees and blue skies in shrill kiddy-influencer YouTube videos. Never mind that there are palm trees and blue skies in many other places. LA was Nico’s La La Land and I had friends to reunite with whom I hadn’t seen since before the pandemic.

I’d been out of practice doing long-haul with child in tow so I attempted to play the part of ‘that mum’ (basically an evolution of ‘that girl’ whose green juice-powered yoga-gear lifestyle has been memed to death). I prepped the healthy snacks in Zip-lock bags. I packed the volume control headphones that cushion her ears and enhance the umpteenth watching of Moana. I succumbed and brought yet another ‘useful’ gizmo — a mini suitcase that also doubles as a scooter — just to add to the growing child vehicle pile-up outside my house. No regrets. She sailed through a painful immigration line without me resorting to hoiking her on my hips, an important consideration when travelling alone without bicep back-up.

Selfishly, I feared she would obliterate my pre-child carefree days of hanging out in LA, bouncing from one taco joint to another. Turns out my preconceived imaginings of a nightmarish trip were unfounded. To my over-prepping and fretting, she side-eyed me with a ‘Whatever…’ (picked up from the aforementioned YouTube watching).

Because every day was the ‘best day ever’. Checking in to the hotel with its David Hockney flecked pool and sunny staff in chinos elicited excited squeals. Looking out the window at the Magic Castle Club and the Hollywood sign became a daily half-hour enthused exercise. ‘Oh my God, that’s SO cool!’ She danced her way down Hollywood Boulevard, seemingly forgetting that back in London, she’d be loath to walk more than 200 metres without asking to be carried. She began to say ‘Hi’ with three syllables to everyone we would encounter in the hotel elevator, which created awkward small chat exchanges that I obvs wanted to avoid at all costs. She shot the breeze with a homeless guy in Santa Monica at a water fountain as they found common ground in the joy of water. She had basically adopted the persona of a Mickey Mouse Club cast member to try and chip away at my natural cynicism.

The real revelation, though, was Nico’s holiday-induced laid-back state of mind, which has floored ‘that mum’ in me. She let me lie in until 9am as she was mesmerised by hills, sky and Nickelodeon. In a Korean 24/7 spa, she’d rub her temples and declare this to be ‘so relaxing’ after trying out three different temperatures of hot tub. Mealtimes, normally regimented and punctual back home, became loose and easy as we sassed our way from taco truck to dumpling shack to poolside guac and chips.

Serves me right for assuming the fears of holidaying with kids need to be ridden with clichés of screams, tantrums and tears. ‘Just chill,’ she said to me by the pool as I manically rubbed factor 50 on her face. I’ve been duly told.

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