“I’m never getting back on a plane with the kids until they are all at least eight years old!” – A vow I made in complete sincerity just after I was one of those people on a plane.
Four years ago I was the pregnant mother with the screaming two year old at the airport. The mother from the family with the seats in the back of the plane. The mother who had to carry her screaming recalcitrant two year old down the entire length of the plane. As if announcing to all the passengers- here we are- and it’s going to be ugly. And oh was it ugly. Screaming, and more screaming- and seat kicking- and that was all while we were sitting waiting (and waiting, and waiting, and waiting) for take off. Shortly after we took off, my screamer fell asleep on top of me and despite the uncomfortableness that comes with having a small child sleeping in your lap in a tiny airplane seat when you are six months pregnant with your third child while your needy first child is crowding you for attention, I left her there – because I had a serious fear of more screaming. When we emerged from the hot sweaty hell that was the airplane. I swore I was never doing that again.
Until I did.
Last Christmas my Grandpa approached us with an incredibly generous gift. A Florida vacation to visit him and my Granny there in the early spring. His offer involved super nice things like a flight and a rental car and even letting us stay in their condo. But, and I checked, it didn’t come with the offer of a nanny to fly with our kids. I internally cringed at the thought of flying and said yes anyway.
And that is how I found myself headed up the stairs to wake up the girls (ages 3, 5, and 8) and head to the airport to break my vow from four years earlier.
I was prepared.
I had plans. I had been given advice. I was armed with new coloring books and tiny toys and snacks and kids who are experts at long car rides.
I was ready.
And then I went to wake up Jane.
The three year old.
The wildcard in all my fears for the flight.
And, while her sisters had bounced out of bed in excitement, she didn’t want to wake up. Uh-oh.
When I did get her up she promptly re-fell asleep on the couch. Uh- oh.
That’s right, I was about to get on a plane with three kids, two of whom were under my randomly assigned age requirement and one of those was sick.
“But”, I mentally reassured myself, “she’s just tired sick. I can carry her. John can herd the others, manage the tickets and we’ll be fine.”
And that’s what we did.
Then, as we were standing at the front of the line for the security check, she said it: “I think I’m gonna throw up.”
Just like that, we were gone from the line. I was holding her over a garbage can, John had disappeared looking for barf bags and a very nice woman was trying to convince me it was going to be fine. The garbage can was unnecessary. John came back- with bags. We re-herded the other two, got ourselves back in line and just after showing ID’s she said it again…
“Right this way Ma’m”
Jane and I were ushered through a security check point faster than I thought possible and directed to the nearest garbage can on the other side. Fortunately, it was yet another false alarm.
So we waited, in various states of health, excitement and dread, for our flight to board.
And while boarding went smoothly, I’m afraid Jane didn’t take in much of her first airplane ride.
Of course, we didn’t have a direct flight. We had to change planes with a bit of a layover because the only thing more fun than flying with small kids is herding little naive country children through large metropolitan airports trying not to lose them in the crowd.
Safely at our new gate, all in one piece and with some lunch beside, Jane perked up. Had a bit to drink. Had a bit to eat. Announced that she was gonna throw up and promptly did so all over the carpet at gate C21.
Interesting things of note:
-Some strangers will supply copious amounts of napkins, quickly and without being asked.
-Some strangers will affect not to notice the pile of vomit by their feet.
-No one will relocate to a different spot.
-Puking always makes kids feel better.
-And, despite the fact that she slept most of the rest of the way, I still really don’t like flying with kids.
(Not to worry, by the next morning Jane was her usual cheerful non-puking self and we had a wonderful vacation… Except for the turbulent flight home where she looked at me and said, “My belly hurts!”)