To combat the winter dreariness, our family took our annual trip to Florida a few weeks ago. The sun and warmth are always a welcome reprieve from winter and the little man had started asking when we were going long before the first snowflake fell. It appears he - like us - has become accustomed to a little winter getaway.
The good news is that because we live in Kansas, we have easy access to pretty much anywhere in the U.S. The bad news is that doesn't mean getting there is quick.
But the little man doesn't mind so long as airplanes are involved.
To his delight, our trip to Florida this year took a total of 4 airplanes to shuttle our family to and from our destination - two flights up, two flights home.
And four cockpits full of pilots who love little visitors.
Fortunately, we had one little visitor who is not shy one bit. In fact, I'm not sure he even knows what the word "shy" means.
As we boarded our first plane the little man was eagerly tramping down the gangway. Once we stepped onto the plane, the little man said his usual "hello" to the flight attendant greeting everyone and as I prepared to direct the little man to our seats, he decided to take a detour.
"Hi, are you the pilot?" I hear the little man as I notice he is no longer in front of me, but rather in the cockpit of the plane. In the paranoia-fueled days of post-9/11, I immediately reached for the little man, wondering if his presence was OK or not.
"Oh, he's OK, you can stand back here and wait," the flight attendant said. My husband stood back and waited while I went on to our seats. A few moments later a very smiley little man came tramping down the aisle, telling me all about his new friends, the pilots.
As we took off, the captain made his usual welcome speech over the intercom, along with a personal welcome aboard to his new little friend.
The above scenario was then repeated three more times. By the last flight, the little man had made such a camaraderie with the pilots that they told both my husband and I to go ahead and sit down - that the little man could hang out with them.
As the final passengers took their seats, we finally heard a small voice over the intercom:
"I"m coming down the aisle now!" the little man's voice boomed over the speakers.
And a very smiley little man proudly tramped down the aisle.