Thursday, July 7, 2011

Traveling with kids & dealing with homesickness: the Toot & Puddle connection

Toot & Puddle: I'll Be Home for Christmas
A little while ago, I wrote a blog post about how to deal with homesickness and separation anxiety when you're either traveling with kids, or traveling away from your kids. Right now I'm living that reality since I'm in Sweden with the kids while my husband is still in Canada. The kids are having an awesome time with grandparents and other family here, but of course they do miss their dad.

Since we arrived in Sweden, my 8-year old son has watched Toot & Puddle: I'll Be Home for Christmas at least 20 times (it's part of the DVD-stash I brought along for the trip). At first I was really wondering about this new DVD-obsession. After all, it's a Christmas special, and it's summer-time now. Why the sudden interest? Then, I finally sat down and watched it with him. And as soon as I did that, I got it. I guess I'm just a little slow on the uptake sometimes.

The Toot & Puddle connection
In this episode of the show, travel-happy Toot travels to Scotland by plane and promises his home-loving friend Puddle that he'll be back in time for Christmas. Toot learns about kilts and all sorts of other Scottish traditions with his family over there. Meanwhile, Puddle stays home, getting their house ready for the holidays and missing Toot.

In the end, Toot does manage to get home just in time for Christmas, but he runs into all sorts of travel-related delays at the train station and airport, and there are more delays in store once he lands back in America as well.

The attraction is pretty obvious, right? My son is watching this show obsessively right now because he can totally and completely relate to it. Every morning and every night, he and my daughter tell me that they miss their daddy. At the same time, they also want to stay in Sweden and have fun with their grandparents, something they've been looking forward to for months.

Interestingly enough, my son also tells me how much he misses daddy right after he's had a lot of fun over here: like right after he's gone fishing, or played in the inflatable jacuzzi. It's almost as though he's feeling a little guilty about having so much fun when he's also missing his daddy. I know how he feels, of course.

It's OK to be homesick
So I tell him it's totally normal and OK to miss home and to miss daddy, but that it's also OK to have lots of fun while we're here. I tell him we're staying here to have fun and socialize and do things with our Swedish family, and then we'll head home again to the other people that we also love. It seems to help.

Watching Toot & Puddle seems to help too. At the end of I'll Be Home for Christmas, when the two friends finally reunite, they tell each other about what they've been up to while they've been apart. The moral of that story really hits home with me and my children right now.

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