2010.05.12 It was my fault...can I blame it on jet lag?

Written by David Green.

By COLLEEN LEDDY

I don’t know how many times I had to say these past couple weeks, “It wasn’t my fault.”

I’m not the one who selected that photo of Maddie to run with my column. I am responsible for forwarding it to David, though, but then Rosie came up with another photo and I e-mailed that to the Observer to use, the one where Maddie is languorously lying asleep across the back seats, not the one he put in with her head propped against the car door, hair disheveled, mouth open, a hint of drool at the side of her mouth.

When I saw the bad photo on the layout page it was close to deadline, David was swamped, and finding the right photo was going to be an ordeal. I cringed, but I knew Maddie wasn’t going to put up that much of a stink.

These days, my kids are kind of immune to what goes in the paper about them. I still ask first if it’s OK to write about them; sometimes I even send the column to preview before it appears in the paper.

They usually just say, slightly dismissively, maybe somewhat resignedly, I don’t care...It’s fine...You can write about it.

“Ha i dont care..isnt it a little late to be asking?” Maddie texted when I asked at 11 a.m., four hours before deadline a couple weeks ago.

“Yes. I’m way too late on everything,” I admitted.

“Well then what if i would have said no...probably means you owe me...” she responded.

It’s kind of a joke...you owe me...we’ll say that to each other, but we don’t always follow through. Or the “payment” will be something insignificant. I laughed because I knew she didn’t mind, these things don’t bother her anymore.

Maddie is way past the time of life when my big white underwear hanging on the clothesline would send her into paroxysms of protest. Heck, she can even eat sushi and travel to Bali by herself. The University of Michigan has made a grown-up out of our baby girl.

But not even a U of M education could help her deal with jet lag. I just read a snippet in a little brochure called “The Little Book of Travel Wisdom” that came with an issue of “National Geographic Traveler” magazine. It’s not a book at all, it’s just a compilation of tips on traveling.

“Leave Jet Lag Behind,” is the title of tip #23 which offers this observation, “Some medical experts estimate that travelers require a day of recovery for every time zone crossed.”

Oy, I wish I’d known that sooner. I would have been a way more understanding mother. Maddie crossed nine time zones and spent 44 hours straight in airports and airplanes as she traveled from Bali to Los Angeles.

We gave her a couple days to recover at my friend Sondra’s in Long Beach, but when we hit the road headed for San Fransciso, she was still suffering.

Jet lag, it’s a cruel thing. Compound that with an ignorant mother and sister who laugh at you for falling asleep at the drop of a hat, who yell at you to look at this, look at that, just as you’re entering sweet slumberland in the back seat, who wake you up for bathroom stops and lunch in bright and sunny restaurants, and who make you sleep in the most uncomfortable of beds.

Before leaving the LA area, we booked a room at a cheap motel in Cambria.  Rosie and Maddie found it online and I called to confirm and get directions. We had reserved the room with one queen bed because the price was cheapest of the available rooms at this location.

We could have reserved a room with two doubles, but it was a “pet friendly” room. I don’t hate animals, but I don’t especially want to sleep where they have roamed before me, where one might have jumped on the bed, or left a mess or fleas behind.  I don’t have much faith in the cleanliness level of a place that is charging a cheap rate in a popular town.

Besides, my kids were raised with the family bed concept when they were little; we figured we’d be just fine with the three of us in a queen. When I called for directions, I mentioned I was traveling with my two daughters.

When I checked in at the motel, Rosie and Maddie stayed in the car. The friendly owner was chatting about all the sights around Cambria and started to tell about one that kids would like. He stopped himself to ask, “How old are you daughters?”

When I said 24 and 21, he cocked his head, looked at me kind of funny, and said, “Are you sure you’re gonna be all right in that queen?”

We were not all right. What a mistake. Besides the overall shabbiness of the room, the queen mattress was a lumpy, dumpy affair and we were all cramped. When did we all get so much bigger? I should have booked the pet friendly room.

Maddie’s right. I owe her.

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