Home > Parenting > When You Miss the Plane But Not the Boat

When You Miss the Plane But Not the Boat

Flat Ella was packed to go on our Hawaiian vacation a week early. She stood on her tiptoes in my child’s coat locker (she was laminated, so sitting was impossible), waiting patiently for our departure date and her moment in the sun.

How Flat Ella missed the flight is anyone’s guess. Some might blame it on the mother. The mother might blame the father. The child might blame her older sisters. Suffice to say once our error was revealed, there were lots of fingers being pointed. But the reality was once we pulled away from our house, fashionably late for our flight, the checklist we ran through went something like: passports? wallet? flight information? bathing suits? oven off? alarm on? Flat Ella didn’t make the list, just like she didn’t make my child’s suitcase.

Catastrophe’s of this magnitude tend to be revealed at the moment she is least equipped to deal with them: the instant before her delirious head hits the pillow. And so it was, after a long day of line ups and airports and time zones, I lay down with her in her vacation bed, with visions of Mai-Tais dancing in my head, certain she will be asleep in a flash, only to have her bolt up into a sitting postion and wail, or should I say WAIL, that we forgot to bring Flat Ella. “Flat who?” I asked, so far was Flat Ella from my stream of hula-ing Mai-Tais.

Incidentally, Flat Ella is a project inspired by the book, Flat Stanley, whereby a hand-drawn, paper version of a child is photographed in adventurous situations. When I was a keen super-achiever parent, a Flat Stanley project once caused my friend to be stabbed by a potentially poisonous cacti in Phoenix. My, how the mighty have fallen.

A plan was concocted quickly lest we all lose an entire night of sleep: after spending a day on the beach, we would hightail it to a store to buy bristol board and markers, and a new (better! improved!) Flat Ella would be born. The lack of lamination was a stumbling point, but I assured her we would figure something out – at worst, no surfing for Flat Ella.

The next day dawned sunny and warm. We lounged on pristine beaches watching whales breach in the distance. We snorkeled with sea turtles and rainbow fish. We boogie-boarded and found sea cucumbers in tidal pools. But apparently nothing could be enjoyed, either in paradise or ever after, without Flat Ella. We packed up our loungers and headed for the mall.

After much input and erasing, a Flat Ella emerged that looked more like a brown-haired Tinkerbell in a strapless blue cocktail dress than Ella, but the most important among us was pleased with the result. Ingeniously we bought some clear tape and managed to create a water-resistent prototype. Flat Ella was alive and well, although another happy hour was lost to the cause. Our vacation was potentially saved: all we had to do was snap a few inventive pictures.

The next morning, we loaded Flat Ella, our beach chairs, snorkel gear, boogie-boards, towels, and yes, cooler, and trotted towards the beach. Passing the pool, the real Ella spotted her teammate from soccer, and promptly ditched Flat Ella to better accommodate her beach buckets and shovels. She was so intent on playing with her friend (and torturing sea cucumbers), she didn’t mention Flat Ella again, leaving us to pick up the slack.

Normally, I’m not one for completing my kids’ projects – but forfeiting happy hour had to amount to something.

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  1. March 20, 2012 at 2:54 pm

    I LOVE this post, Deanna! The project sounds fun to begin with, and now your including her in this post is a total hootl Love the photos, as well.

    May you and your family, Flat Ella included of course, have great fun in the sun!

    Hugs,
    Kathy

    • March 21, 2012 at 6:25 pm

      Ah, thanks Kathy – Flat Ella was such an instrumental part of our holiday I was making reservations for six, instead of five, by the end. I only wish my other children were as easy to feed.

  2. candice charlton
    March 20, 2012 at 10:53 pm

    Janet passed this on to me. I love it! You most certainly get high marks! Thanks for being such a terrific mother. It was fun seeing Ella on the beach- reality will hit next week when we see each other in the classroom. Until then I hope you and flat Ella have a great holiday! Candice

    • March 21, 2012 at 6:23 pm

      Thanks Candice – I intended on working in randomly setting up next to Ella’s teacher on the beach, but ran out of time. I’m still floored that it happened, however. So great to meet your little family – hope you had a wonderful trip!

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