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.


lelnet 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!