I recall the first time Son #1 flew solo on an airplane. Well-traveled and independent, no anxiety preceded his flight (well, maybe a little on my part) and he boarded his flight in Baltimore headed to St. Louis where his grandparents would sign for him like a fine piece of carry-on luggage. Over the years, he would travel without me many times, and Son #2 would follow with an equal lack of trepidation. My expert travelers moved through security seamlessly even when they reached the age that they didn’t need their mom slowing them down. How I miss their childish outlook.
I appreciate that these guys figured out that the ability to move smoothly from point A in terminal C to point B in terminal A granted them the privilege of seeing more of the world than sometimes I could even show them. It made Son #1’s five-hour solo flight from Florida to California flawless and the school trip to Italy only natural. While not quite a jet setter, he knew how to read airport monitors for gate information, how to board smoothly, how to properly stow his carry-on bags (a skill many adults cannot manage), and even coached and counseled other less-courageous unaccompanied minors. Son #2 mastered the same skills, and learned how to score extra peanuts from the flight attendants. Little boys grow up fast.
A Little Taste
Safely on his way to St. Louis, Son #2 and I drive on to Hershey, Pennsylvania in our rental car showing a mere fifteen miles on the odometer. While the town of Hershey offers a myriad of activities and sites, some of which are candy-based and even more of the non-sweet variety, when traveling with a four-year-old, the focus lies strictly in the chocolate. To keep the experience on par with the attention span of a little boy, we ride through the make-believe factory and receive the complimentary miniature candy bar of the town’s namesake. As we exit the dark-ride style attraction with our milk-style chocolate, we receive word that Son #1 arrives safely in Missouri.
Like every well-themed attraction, we dump into a gift shop featuring all things Hershey, Reese’s, Kit-Kat and Kisses adorned, as well as plenty of chocolate delights in all sizes and quantities – little boy heaven. With photo ops, food, and five-year-old fun, there is no reason to explore any additional parts of this adorable town. Everything a child’s imagination invents exists in this warehouse-sized store. On the drive back to DC, even the exceptional sugar content couldn’t keep a little person awake after a full three hours of chocolate fantasy overload. Fully spoiled by his bite-sized adventure, these hours of candied adventure pale in comparison to three-weeks of spoiling Son #1 receives at the hands of his grandparents. Nevertheless, on this day, I think of my distance from Son #1, while Son #2 remembers Chocolate World as a child’s chocolate nirvana. And I remember their distant childhood as a parent’s heaven.