Thursday, June 22, 2006

First things first: traveling with toddlers.

Because my family lives on the other side of the country, my kids are more seasoned travelers than your average 2 and 3 year olds. They have both survived at least 2 or 3 cross-country flights in each year of their lives. I have flown alone with each of them before--Isaac at 10 months, Vivian at 3 months--but I have never flown alone with both of them together. Until this trip.

I have learned a few things about flying with kids in all our travels: schedule the flight around nap/bedtime; bring a few extra diapers in case the flight is delayed; carseats are a pain in the ass to lug onto the plane, but once you get them on, they are a godsend; and it's never as bad as you anticipate, even if it's really bad. The easiest kids to take on a plane are infants or pre-mobile babies. Once they are mobile, things become progressively more difficult until they are old enough to really understand consequences, around 2.5. At least, that's been my experience. Easily the worst part about flying with children is the logistics of it all: getting all the gear and the babies through all the lines and onto the plane without a meltdown (from the babies, you, or airport personnel).

All that is a really long introduction to the story of our flight a few Mondays ago. In retrospect, I should never have planned a trip to Carmel, which involved a six hour drive up on Friday and a six hour drive back down on Sunday, immediately followed by a six hour flight Monday. Yeah, I think that was a bit much for me, not to mention for the kids.

Our flight left at 1:30pm, naptime. Perfect. The difficulty lay in maneuvering both kids, the diaper bag, and two un-wieldy carseats through the security lines. Fortunately, Lance was able to get a pass to help us to the gate. We ate a quick lunch while waiting (airport food, yum) and got in line (Southwest, which allows families with kids to pre-board), then Lance had to go back to work.

With some difficulty, I managed to get both kids on the plane, in their carseats, and after a 10 minute delay, we were off. The first hour or two of the flight went well enough--no screaming, no fighting, but also no napping. Isaac required 3 separate trips to the bathroom; have you ever tried to fit three people in one of those tiny airport rooms? Even if two of them are well under four feet, it's quite a challenge. Around hour two, the captain turned on the seatbelt sign, as we were experiencing some very minor turbulence. Unfortunately, that sign stayed on for 4 more hours, the remainder of the flight.

For reasons unknown, neither Isaac nor Vivian slept at all during the flight. By the end of hour three, they were both tired of sitting in their seats. By hour four, Vivian was crying "Unbuckle me! Mommy! Get down!" at decibels loud enough to be heard in the cockpit. Isaac joined in, too, hollering to pee, grabbing whatever toy Vivian had in her hand, repeatedly kicking the seat in front of him and generally behaving like a jackass. That continued until we landed in Philadelphia around 9pm east coast time.

Here's what I find odd: I didn't really care. Wait, that's not what I mean. I definitely cared that both kids were so upset. I cared that I had to try and calm down both of them for 3 straight hours. But I didn't care what any of the other passengers thought. I didn't care if Vivian's crying was annoying them. I didn't care if they were tired of Isaac asking for more milk. I had enough to deal with, trying to handle the crises that was both of my children, and that's all that mattered. Further more, the way I figure it, if it was annoying any of the other passengers, imagine what it was doing to me, their mother. Cry me a river, people.

This is not my usual attitude. Generally, I'm very aware of the way other people perceive me, my children, and my parenting abilities, and I do everything in my power to ensure that we leave a good impression. But I don't know, on that flight, I just felt like it was all I could do to deal with the kids and I couldn't waste any brain function worrying about anyone else.

In the end, we made it to Philadelphia unharmed and I suppose that's something.

The flight home was easier for two reasons: one, Lance was with me, and two, the flight was scheduled for 6pm, which meant both kids slept for the majority of the flight. There was the unfortunate problem of the flight being delayed for 3 hours, however. This made for some interesting time in the Philadelphia airport. I must admit that at one point Vivian was running around with another two year old--chasing after him, and being chased, giggling hysterically (by this time it was 8pm, way past her bedtime), often running into other very important adult, annoyed passengers--and I didn't stop her. We'd been sitting there for 3 hours, every flight in the area was delayed due to thunderstorms, and I just didn't feel justified making her sit still any longer. I'm sure the kid-less people in the gate area did not appreciate her behavior, or mine, but I still feel no shame about it.

Right before we boarded the plane, a very nice couple who had been talking a bit with both Isaac and Vivian during the wait told me that both children were "adorable, and very well-behaved". I smiled sweetly and thanked them, not mentioning the chasing game which they had very obviously not witnessed.

Oh, and I should mention here too: at one point, a very kind woman, around 60, I would guess, came over and offered to watch the kids for me while I used the restroom. Lance had gone off foraging snacks or magazines, and she thought I was traveling alone with them. Isn't that nice? I just love when people are good, instead of shitty.

That's it for our plane travels, though we also survived another 6 hour car ride, this one from Delaware to the Outer Banks of North Carolina and back. Here's a recap of our schedule:

Friday June 2nd: 6 hour drive to Carmel
Sunday June 4th: 6 hour drive back to L.A.
Monday June 5th: 6 hour flight to Philadelphia
Wednesday June 7th: 6 hour drive to Duck, NC
Friday June 17th: 6 hour drive back to Delaware
Monday June 19th: 6 hour flight back to L.A.

Driving home


Yeah, I'm glad to be home.

1 comment:

isimsiz kahraman said...
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