Traveling with Kids

There should be an award ceremony at the end of every flight with children.  “The award for the most obnoxious child goes to seat 23A!” At this rate, I should have a whole shelf…

I knew the travel day would be a long one when the baby started being a grump hours before we even packed for the trip. He’s screaming now, in fact. So when he began screaming on the first flight, I was far from surprised. But, I’m getting ahead of myself. Lets back up.

At the airport security line, I struggled with getting him out of the stroller while my nine-year old daughter went ahead of me in the line. I assumed she was just taking her shoes off, putting her backpack on the conveyor belt and going through the device, as usual. Nope. The TSA agent came over and informed me she’s been selected for a hand wipe screening. I looked up just as they were doing the test. Gee, thanks for asking my permission TSA!

After the test, we waited for my mother to be publicly groped. (She’s in a cast, so of course they think she’s packing something in there.) During our wait, my daughter, near tears, explains how scared she was when they took her off to the side. They put gloves on. She thought they were going to give her a shot. I finally calmed her down.

Then, we waited to get on the plane. And waited. I’d purposely not breastfed the baby so I could do that during takeoff. But, our flight was delayed. Which meant, in turn, we’d be late catching our connecting flight. While we sat there waiting for them to board the plane, my baby ramped himself up to a frenzy level of a group of piranhas when a skinny dipper gets in the water.

Oh, and is now a good time to mention my mother upgraded to first class, leaving me alone with my three cracked out little people? It was like survival of the fittest back there in coach!

We get on the plane. The kids instantly begin asking if they can play their DS’s. No. It’s midnight. No. I finally nurse the baby and one by one everyone falls asleep. Fast forward two and a half hours. We are late arriving in Seattle. We have just minutes to board our next flight to Chicago. AND, you guessed it, it’s on the concourse on the opposite side of the universe. I look down, just as we begin our sprint, to find the baby is only wearing one shoe. Great. Whatever. There’s no stopping now. We take off. About this time, my preschooler starts saying his tummy hurts and he’s making the tell-tale pre-barf coughing. I put him on my back (I know, stupid idea) and push the stroller while booking it across the airport. My daughter is doing her best to keep up. We finally make it to Concourse Z , or whatever it was called. We board the plane, barf free.

Now, the baby is even more angry. He’s grumpy. A lady in front of me offers us a granola bar. He refuses. He wants a drink. We get him water. He’s even  angrier. Just seconds before full on Hulk Mania he latches on and falls asleep. During the flight, my preschooler orders yogurt, my nine-year old gets a sandwich and I order a cheese plate. (What in the world are airlines thinking with that option?) We all start to fall asleep. When I wake, the yogurt is gone. I ask my preschooler if he gave it to the flight attendant. He gives a somewhat guilty look. I realize as we are landing, the yogurt has fallen under his seat. I did not clean it up. Don’t judge me.

We get off the plane in Chicago. My preschooler spots the moving walkway and takes off running. I holler. Then, my mother screams his name in a manner that made every person from O’Hare to Anchorage International stop dead in their tracks. He comes back. We walk together the long, long walk to baggage claim. We leave, finally, with just one bag missing: my mom’s.

A two-hour drive later, we pull into the driveway of my brother’s new house in Michigan. It’s hot. The kids are running wild, seeing all their cousins and catching up. It’s fun.

After dinner tonight, I get the same question I’ve been asked since we arrived: “Where’s Uncle?” Great. We call a family meeting. I explain we are getting a divorce. There’s five kids there, not including my own. It’s a blended family. They know all too well what divorce means. I think, besides how uncomfortable it was telling them, that it will help my kids in the long run. Kids make good support groups.

After all that, I sit, typing with drink in hand. A well deserved drink. Oh, and back to that awards ceremony? After our second flight, an older woman who’d been sitting in the row behind us and to the right, taps me on the shoulder and says “You did a great job. I have six kids. It’s never easy. But you did just fine.” If that’s not the biggest award after a day of travel, I don’t know what is.

EDITOR’S NOTE: My mother was deeply offended reading this post. She feels I have portrayed her in a negative light, without sharing the whole truth about why she was in first class. She offered to move to first class, partly because you get to check two bags for free. In coach, you pay $25 a bag. So, we saved $50 that way. Of course, I’d feel a little differently on the matter had she not gotten free drinks the whole flight…


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Kalley C
    Aug 03, 2011 @ 14:13:48

    Traveling with kids is never fun. I only have one and it was not a walk in the park. I just love how you plan the flight to work around the nap time so that the child can nap on the plane. Of course the airline doesn’t understand this, and delays the flight several hours.

    So instead of having my child take her afternoon nap on the plane, my flight was scheduled for 7pm in the evening. I feel so sorry for the people on the plane. There were 4 mothers all with screaming children, including mine.

    At least someone gave you words of encouragement. When our plane landed, everyone ran for their lives and left the mothers with the screaming children behind.


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