As I travel very rarely for work, my two-year-old son isn’t very used to the idea of it. The last time I was gone for more than a night was in December, which I suspect he doesn’t even remember. So I don’t think my goodbye really sunk in when I left on a four day work trip last week. To keep in touch, we FaceTimed every night and went through a very distinct stage each time:
Day 1: Elation mixed with confusion. When I came on, Sprout greeted me with “Mommy!” He didn’t know why I was talking to him via the computer but decided it was pretty neat. Trying to kiss the screen, he gave me a very up close view of his nose. He answered my questions and using his limited vocabulary, told me all about his day. As we finished, he gave me “butterfly hugs,” which how he hugs his grandparents when we FaceTime with them. He hugs himself and then does the sign-language gesture for butterfly with his hands. I think he came up with it on his own, because I’m pretty sure none of us taught him it. It’s ridiculously cute.
Day 2: Complete 180 in attitude. I think he realized and internalized that I was going to be gone for multiple nights for the first time ever. He greeted me, but it was far more apathetic. As I talked to Chris, Sprout got one of his longest books, placed it on the table where the computer was and idly flipped through it. Once in a while, he’d look up at me casually and then go back to looking at his book, as if to say, “You wanted to talk to me? Maybe you should have stayed home.” I asked him, “Do you want to sing a song?” “No.” “Butterfly hugs?” “No.” Okay, then. His teenage-lite attitude both broke my heart and made me laugh a little.
Day 3: According to him, Mommy’s absence is now the status quo until further notice. Instead of being thrilled or disgusted with me, he started testing the capabilities of FaceTime. I think he discovered the fact that he can see himself in the small window. In celebration of this realization, he started sprinting back and forth across the room. He would be off-screen, appear on-screen briefly, and then disappear again, yelling the whole time. I have no idea what he was saying, but it looked fun. I tried to get his attention, but apparently running around was far more interesting. Instead, I contemplated how terrible I look at the angle resulting from holding the phone propped up on my knees.
Thankfully, I returned on Thursday afternoon. At the airport, he said, “Mommy!” but then immediately was distracted by everything else going on. Moms, constantly needed by their kids except the very moment they want to be.
For a different and funny take on the phenomena of FaceTiming with toddlers, Mommy Shorts has her seven stages.
How did your kids react when you were on travel?