The trip back wasn't too bad. The Moosh was a real trooper and slept for long stretches on both flights, so he was well rested and generally easy to entertain when he was awake. He got to burn a lot of energy at the McDonald's playplace in Germany, which, in my opinion, set us up for that return flight - he was tired out by the time he got on the plane and we had plenty of space for him to stretch across seats, so he slept for 3.5 hours of the 11 hour flight. That works for me.
Overall I'm monumentally disappointed in how the trip went. I was so determined to have a good time this year, and I spent a ton of money to acheive that end, and I feel like it all backfired on me. It's hard to pinpoint where things went wrong, exactly, but here are a few things that were biggies.
I think the family expected way too much from a jet-lagged 2-year-old. It's hard to define, but it was like they wanted him to hop around and be cute on demand all the time. Naturally, since most 2-year-olds don't like to do things on demand, he reacted negatively to that. I think the sheer number of people around all the time threw him off, too. We're talking about a kid who spends 90% of his time at home alone with one adult being forced to be around 10 adults who all wanted his attention anytime he was awake. It was just too much for him (and for me!).
I really tried to make sure that he got his sleep and had some space to be alone, but I don't think that the family really understood what I was trying to do. I think they thought that I was excluding them, which was not my intention. My main concern was for the Moosh's health and happiness. He needs time to himself after he wakes up and whenever he's tired, so I would often shut our bedroom door and put on a video so that he could have some time to recharge. If I left the door open, whoever was in the living room would shout his name over and over and over again until I was about ready to strangle the yeller. I cannot fathom how they didn't know how annoying that is.
Then there was the ever present difficulty of monitoring a child in a non-babyproofed environment. I think I said the word "no" more on this trip than I have in the previous year. My preference is to redirect with positive statements, but by the time the kid had grabbed the crystal knick-knack for the 1000th time, my patience had worn very, very thin. I hate that I lost patience with him over stuff that is normal for his age. It's totally normal for a kid to explore his environment. If only the environment were more kid friendly, maybe he could explore without his shrew of a mother walking around going NO-NO-NO all day long.
How is it that people do not understand that little kids need to sleep a lot? In point of fact, the Moosh needs less sleep than your average 2-year-old: he only sleeps about 12 hours a day, total, but he NEEDS those twelve hours. It does not help when people are having a party on the balcony at bedtime, or when they come over with presents at bedtime, or when they serve dinner at bedtime. This leads to a kid who can't sleep, which segues in to Mr. Super Cranky Baby the next day. Then the family would get upset that he was cranky, "Why is he crying? Why isn't he playing?" I refrained on multiple occasions from saying, "Because you idiots won't let the poor child sleep!" I mentioned this to a lady I met on the plane (coming from India with her 3.5 year old daughter), and she told me she had the exact same problem, "For the kids, sleep is like oxygen. If they don't get it, they can't function. But it's hard to impress on people who don't have little kids." Exactly.
I think they saw the laptop as an insult. This was so not my intention, but that's what I think happened. I spent so much money on movies and that computer, I don't even want to think about it. It doesn't help that the Moosh popped off that H key, necessitating that I pay for the computer, even though I can't keep it (R would KILL me). To make matters worse, I talked to the guy who arranged for me to have the computer today and he broke the bad news that it was about $200 more expensive than he originally thought. I could cry. I will probably end up selling it on Ebay or something, but I'm going to lose money even more money on this dea - money I can't really afford to lose. Sigh.
They don't use car seats in Iran. They generally try to pack as many people into a car as possible, and kids don't get their own seat - they almost universally ride in an adult's lap. Unfortunately for them. the car seat is a non-negotiable issue for me. Kids ride in car seats. End of story, as far as I'm concerned. My conviction to have him in a seat really bit me in the ass this year, though, because BIL had sold their family car to finance his sons' business venture. If we wanted to go anywhere, he had to hire a car and driver to take us, which meant that we lost a seat, so that if a 4th person wanted to go, I got crammed in the middle of the back seat next to the car seat. It was incredibly uncomfortable and I started to get carsick every time I got in a car. This is why I canceled the beach trip - there was no freaking way I was going to be crammed like a sardine in a car for four hours while driving over the mountains. Call me spoiled if you want... I'm just not doing that.
I have resolved that I will not travel to Iran by myself with the Moosh again. Sadly, it is just too hard on both of us. When R is there things go so much better, mainly because he can run interference between me and the family and the can tell them to shut the fuck up when they get too annoying. I need him... I need the R buffer.