Shielding your kids from your anxiety while on travel


Several years ago, we traveled to Tokyo when my son was about to turn four years old. He was young but already travel savvy. A few days ago at the airline check-in counter, the lady asked if our three small checked bagage was it and he proudly noted to her “we travel a lot. we are good at this.” Indeed, we are excellent at apcking and manage to bring just three small bags that actually could serve as a carry on but we don’t want the hassle of fighting over overhead bin space.Yes, he is an old hand at traveling.  He also has no memory of when his parents had moments of panic while abroad because we have tried to shield him from it.


In Kyoto Japan, we once managed to get on the wrong bullet train and had no idea where we were headed.  I was in complete panic mode internally and starte dto show it on my face. My son immediately picked  up on it and started to get scared. I had to immediately correct my face and not be scared, for his sake. In that moment, I knew I had to shield him from that panic. Sure, we do not want to shield our kids from all the bad things in life as those moments also help shape and mold our character. However, there was nothing character-wise to be gained from him seeing his mommy panic. I have always kept that moment with me. There are times to shield and time to not. We won’t always get it right but we can certainly try.


In our latest adventure, we managed to go from Los Angeles to Durban, South Africa with barely any hiccups. He handled the two 10+ hours flights fairly well with just one instance where his leg hurt. The flights were brutal in how much our legs ende dup hurting by the time we landed in Durban. I never get jet lag. Yet this time, I actually slept during the afternoon right after my landing. I never do that. I usually land and just hit the ground running.  However, two 10+ hour flights back to back is psychologically trying.  I so prefer an MRI. Actually, no, not really. I am slightly exagerating.

What drove me slightly batty today was trying to get from the airport to the hotel. Everything went wrong. I booked wrong hotel in that it was 40 minutes away, the airport/hotel shuttle didn’t actually take me to where they claimed to go, and once at the hotel found it to be in the middle of nowhere with no gym onsite. No gym? I was panicking. However, while I didn’t mind my son seeing I was upset over each of these missteps, I didn’t want him thinking we should just give up or immediately feel depressed and unable to do anything about these missteps. We worked out solutions together. I’m still annoyed but we are not only making due we are going to still have fun.

What did get to me, however, was the breaking news. Upon landing, I turned on my cell phone and received numerous breaking news alerts. The city of Nice had just been attacked. I shook my head. Two years ago when I landed in Melbourne, my phone alerted me to breaking news that a flight had been shot over the Ukraine and said plane had several conference goers. Back then I didn’t explain everything about the flight crash to my son. Today, my son read the CNN text on television and he was puzzled as to why someone crashed a car into the crowd. This is the 3rd breaking news the past month that he has become fully aware of. Time after time, someone being killed and my son wondering what is weird with the world. How do you shield kids from the carnage, sorrow and frustration with the world? It is getting to the point that I am afraid to turn on my cell phone upon landing after a long, international plane flight. Just can’t shield him from this mad, mad world anymore. 

I have to note that just as I write this the Turkish military has engaged in a coup. My son recognizes Istanbul as our layover transit city and is wondering how this will impact us. Amazing series and succession  of events. 

I did have a win today. He tried drumsticks. This is a huge won in my household. From adversity comes a new appreciation for chicken drumsticks. Onwards!



3 replies »

  1. Good luck with your travels!

    The only time I was ever afraid to fly it was only because my 4 year old daughter was with me. The turbulence was alarming, but my only thought was that if the plane went down, it was my fault she was on it. That was over 20 years ago. We’re fine.

    9/11 happened when my son was in kindergarten. Hard to shield a child from news like that, but you try to maintain some sort of cheerful normalcy alongside worry. You don’t panic.


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