Saturday, December 09, 2006

Between two homes alone

It was cute when Macauley Culkin's movie parents managed to forget him--twice. After all, what parent could imagine actually forgetting a kid, even with a passel to keep track of? But this season, we get a bite of realism, apparently. Unacommpanied Minors, this year's kid comedy, strands a bunch of unrelated kids in a snow bound airport, kids whose only connection is that they're all from divorced families or similar situations that force them to travel alone during the holidays. I haven't seen this yet, but a review in the New York Sun recounts a precocious line one of the children uses when a grown-up remarks on the kids' antics: "Divorce kids are more resourceful," he says. How adorable.

Maybe I'm losing my sense of humor, but this scenario seems a little too real to actually be funny. Do you know anyone whose parents traveled somewhere for Christmas and actually forgot a kid at home? I'm guessing not. The unlikelihood of that situation was part of what made Home Alone something we could laugh at. But chances are, if you're a child of divorce, you've made a trip or two (or thirty) by yourself; if not, you know someone who did. I jokingly call O'Hare Airport my second home because I've flown through there (and occasionally, other hubs) alone since I was 7. The first time my mom put me on a plane by myself, she cried the whole way home, afraid I would get lost and end up in South America or someplace crazy. My first time going to LAX, I got stuck for an hour or more at some sub-terminal while my dad (in the days before cell phones) fought traffic and I worried that perhaps he really had forgotten me. Mostly the trips were uneventful and promised a plastic airline pin, a baggie of crayons, and a nice stewardess or pilot to walk me between gates. Yes, the experience (multiplied by the number of times I did it) gave me confidence and a reliable sense of navigation in airports. But, sorry Hollywood, it didn't make me a good target audience for a fun-filled family film about kids traveling alone getting stranded and having to rely on themselves to get out of a jam. Try again.

2 comments:

Matt said...

Perhaps if my mother had been willing to trust the systems that seem to have gotten you through OK, I'd have been able to know my father when I was a kid, instead of getting almost everything I know about him from his friends at the funeral.

It's surely a long way from perfect. But I'd have traded lives with you in a heartbeat.

Kristine said...

The system is even harder on families nowadays, actually. Airlines will no longer allow kids to travel alone and make a connection, so kids have to have a direct flight, which means if I were traveling to my grandparents' as a kid now, they'd have to drive 4 hours each way to Chicago or St. Louis to get me.

Believe me, I'm tremendously grateful for a mom who not only was willing to take the risk of putting me on a plane by myself (trusting me to God's care, of course), but who was also willing to keep up on ongoing correspondence with her former in-laws to ensure that I had a relationships with them and my dad. It couldn't have been easy, but she did it for me. She's awesome!