The Entertaining Speaker #3: Make Them Laugh
How many of you either have children, or want to have children some day? Those of you who have children, have they ever done something that drove you crazy at the time, but then later you could look back and laugh at it? Yeah, you’ll be able to relate to this speech.
And for those of you who plan to have children, pay attention, because in the future, you’ll be able to give a speech like this one, except it will be about your kids’ own unique…challenges.
I have two daughters, born three years apart. Because we lived far away from their grandparents, and because we moved to Japan when they were little, they traveled from an early age. Believe me, it wasn’t easy!
After my first daughter drank milk, she’d often start to hiccup. And when she started to hiccup, there was a 33% chance that it would end with her throwing up. Not a little dribble, but a full-fledged projectile vomit. It was like something out of the movie “The Exorcist.” Her grandmother heard about this, but she didn’t believe it…until I was handing the baby over to her, and she did a full “blaaah” all over Grandma.
Once I was travelling with my baby on an airplane. I packed a diaper bag with an extra change of clothes for her, just in case. I forgot to bring a change of clothes for me…. Five minutes into an hour-long flight…she starts to hiccup… and then does a full vomit…all over me. I smelled terrible! As a courtesy to fellow passengers, I stood at the back of the plane during the rest of the flight.
Of course, stuff came out the other end, too. Once before a flight, we had the bulkhead seats, so there was enough room to lay her down by my feet and change her diaper. A flight attendant walked by and said, “Mam, you can’t store your child down there.” Now, I do know the difference between a baby and a piece of luggage. A piece of luggage is much better behaved.
OK, so the vomit thing was a passing phase, and it got easier to travel with my first daughter. But we moved to Japan when my second daughter was one year old. Back then, diplomats got to fly business class if it was a long flight, so here we were in business class with two young children. Boy, were we glad that those around us could order unlimited alcoholic beverages…
Because every once and a while, she would shriek. Like this: “AAYYY!” She wasn’t mad or anything, she was just expressing herself. They assigned a young, male flight attendant just to us. I think he was still in training. For the rest of the flight, we got his undivided attention.
My second daughter was a wild child. She really was. The minute she learned to walk, she ran, and there was no holding her back. She was fast, too. It was especially difficult to keep up with her in airports.
We were in Tokyo’s Narita Airport, waiting for a flight to Washington, D.C. We were in one of those circular seating areas, with four gates around the circle. My daughter took off running, and she started to board a flight to London. Honest. We thought about letting her go, too, like the kid in the movie “Home Alone 2.” He ends up flying to New York while the rest of his family flies to Florida. But she wasn’t carrying her passport, so went and got her.
One benefit of flying between Tokyo and the U.S. was that you could stop in Hawaii along the way with no extra charge. We did that. There we were on the sunny island of Oahu with its lovely, sandy beaches, when daughter #2 decides she doesn’t like the smell of the ocean. No, she doesn’t want to go anywhere near the ocean. So what do you do with two children, on a tropical island, when one of them doesn’t like the sea? We rented a car. We thought we’d go for a ride and look at the scenery.
At the opposite end of Oahu from Honolulu, we stopped at the Turtle Bay Hilton Hotel. I’d heard it was beautiful and wanted to see it. So in we go, through the lobby, and head toward the pool. I never did see it, because the pool was near the ocean. Now, daughter #2 didn’t usually throw up, like daughter #1…But she smelled that ocean, and threw up in a potted palm, behind a bench, in the lobby of the Turtle Bay Hilton Hotel.
I did the helicopter lift. You know, where you grab them by the shirt, and we got out of there as fast as we could. Still, to this day, there’s a picture of my daughter on a bulletin board in the employee lounge of that hotel, with a red X through it.
In Tokyo, one time we got on a subway train with daughter #2, and she takes off running. She’s running between cars, the length of the train. We thought she might jump off onto the platform, and we’d be like Gene Hackman in the movie “The French Connection,” stuck on the train, while the bad guy’s back on the platform, laughing.
Thank God for the Zen master. An older gentleman, calmly sitting, his eyes half closed in meditation, put out his hand at exactly the right time, and stopped her. We admired his technique.
Our daughters are now 27 and 24 years old. The older one works for the U.S. government in Washington, D.C., and the younger one works in the T.V. business in Los Angeles. They are both very well behaved. I have to say I’m hoping for the revenge of the grandparents. That’s when your kids have children who are a challenge, so they can experience what they put you through. I’m also hoping that they if they do have kids, they love their children as much as we love them.