Q. "As a moving consultant, I differ with you on a couple points in your column about children and moving.
"I've found that every move--local or long distance--is a big move, bringing a real level of stress, but children under 6 are the least affected. I find it difficult to believe that an 18-month-old child has any idea what is going on.
"Also, I have reservations about the idea of a photo album for the child. Does it make the move easier to have pictures of what is left behind? After all, good-byes are not usually joyful. Wouldn't it be better to make an album of the new location?"
A. If you had lived somewhere for 18 months, wouldn't you want to remember this patch of life? Wouldn't you want to see pictures of your old haunts?
Although a child might not be as affected by the move as the rest of the family, she would reflect any stress around her. It's better for parents to take a child's needs and emotions as seriously as their own. It doesn't matter if the concern is wasted, but it would matter very much if it were not there when needed.
Q. "We had a lovely vacation by car last fall with our baby. She napped between meals, slept in a portable crib and was no problem at all. We are tentatively planning a summer vacation to Iceland (my husband has relatives there), and we need advice on traveling. Our daughter will be 14-15 months old by then.
"I wonder if an overseas journey is too ambitious and if we'll regret it."
A. When parents expect things to go well, they usually do, unless, of course, the child is between 18-30 months. Many children are dandy then, for quite a bit of the time, but you'd have to live in an F.P. (as in Fool's Paradise) to expect serenity.
But 14-15 months is a prime time to enjoy the trip: She'll still take long naps but she'll show off for the relatives too. She probably will be able to say a few words--for those with good ears and loving hearts--and will delight strangers with her generosity, as she offers a cookie (and takes it back again). You can expect her to find joy in adventure, but still be timid enough to stay near you. Her curiosity will be nicely balanced by her inability to move very fast.
There are sure to be some mishaps, of course, but that shouldn't prevent the trip. A child thrives on new faces and spaces, so long as her parents don't demand too much of her and they seem happy to be where they are.
To encourage you to travel with your child--to Iceland or anywhere--read the charming, first-person book, Europe with Children by Kathy Appler (Alexandria Press, Inc., $4.95). It's written by a Maryland mother, printed by a Virginia publisher and filled with joy, sound advice and the kind of attitude that can get you through anything.
It's enough to send any family to Europe--even with a 2.