Wednesday, December 18, 2013

A Parent's Travel Guide for the Holidays!

Ward is a frequent flier because both sets of his grandparents live far away and they love having him visit because I guess they didn't get enough of toddler tantrums and surprise pooping the first time they raised kids. And now that he's old enough for his own seat whenever we fly, he has already settled into a routine of buckling up, pulling his tray table down, and demanding that complimentary Sprite every time a stewardess anyone comes by, which keeps him pretty occupied for the first three minutes we are on the plane. The rest of the time is just opening and shutting his window as rapidly and aggressively as possible. And I'm still trying to teach Ward the ole "I just flew in from Vegas and BOY are my arms tired" joke for whenever our families pick us up at the airport, but he doesn't seem to appreciate the hilarity of it...I fear he has his father's terrible sense of humor.

Ward, like most kids, is acutely aware that he has the upper hand with me when we are trapped on an airplane (scientific fact). This means once we step on board that it's a whole new ball game. With whole new rules. And whole new ideas. And whole new consequences. And whole new rewards. And whole new--are you still reading this part? Did no one ever teach you how to skim?

You Vs. Baby: A helpful guide to flying
Tip #1: Give your baby everything he/she wants. 
Are you just hanging out at home with your kid? Don't give them whatever they want, you'll raise a monster! Are you on an airplane with your kid? Give them everything they want! Give them all the things! Does your kid like cookies? Give them cookies. Do they like coloring books? Bring fifty. Hell, does your kid like gogo dancers? (Stupid question, I know. Who doesn't?!) Then you had better call the talent agency before your next flight. Like most kids, Ward loves candy. Every time he smells/sees/hears the word chocolate, he starts demanding some. If we are at home when he demands it, I just say NOPE and walk away while he lies on the floor kicking the pantry door (from the inside or the outside...both have been done). But in airports, that's not feasible. I mean, don't get me wrong, I have TRIED to walk away from him mid-tantrum at the airport, but nosy strangers always end up intervening with their pesky "Miss, was that your child you left crying on the floor ten gates back?" or the really annoying ones who are like, "I'm not sure you should stick your baby in the overhead bin, he doesn't seem to like that." Don't tell me how to raise my kid, lady! So, to sums things up, Ward generally consumes about 4,000 calories of candy when we fly.

Tip #2: Sit behind a young person. 
Ward loves putting his tray table upanddownandupanddownandup for li-truh-lee the entire flight. And he does it with such gleeful force that it pounds the seat in front of his every time. I used to try and stop him because I knew it was disturbing the passenger in that seat, but that would always result in an immediate nuclear meltdown that was now disturbing the passengers in every seat on the plane. So now I just make sure we are behind someone under the age of, oh, eighteen, because if there is one thing everyone knows about the tolerance of others, it is that old folks don't give a #&@% about how hard you're trying to control your kid. They just you to stop annoying them. Young people, however, still have enough self-consciousness and insecurity to let someone kick the back of their seat for two hours without saying a thing.

Tip #3: Try to coordinate your child's illnesses with the flight so you don't feel ethically conflicted about giving them "baby's special sleepy medicine." 
Because there aren't infinity pages in Sky Mall, a flight can get pretty boring after about the first ten minutes. Sleeping is like hitting the fast forward button, so as far as I'm concerned, being conked out is the best way to be, child and adults alike.   I lucked out this last trip because Ward had a nasty cough the day we flew home from Memphis. I gave him some hippy medicine with honey and melatonin in it, so he spent 90% of the nearly-four hour flight snoring...and talking yelling in his sleep "NO DINOSAUR," "MOMMY APPLES?" and (my personal favorite) "BEEF CANDY!"
Tip #4: For every person who seems annoyed with your baby's behavior, there are ten others who sympathize.
One time, I was flying from Memphis to my connection in Phoenix and Ward was still young enough to be a "lap child," meaning I didn't have to buy him a ticket, he could just sit in my lap the whole time. Do you know how long a two year old likes sitting still and facing forward on his mother's lap while staring at the back of an airplane seat? About zero seconds. The only thing that kept him from opening the emergency exit and parachuting out was the fact that I had Oreos and an iPhone for him to watch movies on. But of course, that only lasted to long, since up until recently, it was FAA policy to force passengers to shut off and put away their electronic devices during ascent and descent. I can only assume that policy was designed to most effectively oppress passengers and keep our morale down in the depths of hell where it belonged. When I reluctantly pried my phone out of Ward's hands to prepare for landing, his reaction can only be explained as...catastrophic. Or maybe apocalyptic? Yeah, that's the word: apocalyptic. He was thrashing around in my arms so hard that he cracked the (stowed) tray table and dove off of my lap into the aisle. And as I struggled to pull his trantruming body off the floor, the stewardess yelled from her jumpseat that I'd better contain him because we were landing, which was really helpful of her. By some miracle, I got him back into my lap and restrained him with a bear hug while he screamed and coughed and gagged because just before his fit, he had stuffed a whole Oreo in his mouth and chewed it but hadn't swallowed it yet . This meant that during the entire tantrum, Ward had been spewing out black Oreo gunk (which inevitably ruined both of our shirts so much that I had to throw them away later). At the fever pitch of this situation, the woman in front of me turned around and screamed, "COVER HIS F*CKING MOUTH!" If her objective had been to make me cry, she was too late. She did, however, succeed in encouraging me to stop restraining a raging Ward from donkey-kicking the back of her seat like I had been. Did I mention that he had earlier found a Sharpie in the terminal, so his face looked like this then entire time?
Was that the worst flight I'd ever been on? Yes. And that means a lot coming from someone who once flew from Amsterdam to Atlanta sitting next to a person I'm pretty sure was in the late stages of tuberculosis. As I gathered our things to deplane, felt humiliated and defeated. I slowly lugged a (now sleeping) Ward off of the flight as my diaper bag and purse hung from my elbows, banging on every seat as I walked down the aisle, which is how I'd imagine a sad Charlie Brown would get off a plane if he were a parent. However, once I got onto the jetway, multiple people approached me with kind words and encouragement. "It's okay. I once flew to Hawaii with my six kids and I'm pretty sure it gave me PTSD," said one guy. An older mom gave me a hug, "I've been there. We all have. Well, most of us." My connection wasn't leaving for another couple of hours, so I found a dark corner at an empty gate and held Ward as he continued to rest up for his next round of outbursts that would occur on the following flight. I didn't seem to mind as much that time, though, and I had those kind people to thank.

In conclusion, I'd like to say this: Flying with kids is like paying your tithing: it hurts and is hard, but if you do it, the windows of heaven will pour out blessings unto you. Wait, is that right? I'm not sure that simile is really working out. Maybe you should just stay home?

4 comments:

  1. They don't make you turn off electronics anymore as long as they are in airplane mode!!! New law!! I loved every description in this blog because I have experienced about all of them. Minus the spewing Oreos. :) and BOY does it get better when you bring 2 boys along. Ugh!!!

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  2. i almost peed my pants reading this. you were born to write, juju!

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  3. Mrs. Ward’s Mom, what you've just said is one of the most insanely awesome things I have ever heard. At every point in your rambling, coherent response were you spot on to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now happier for having listened to it. I award you all points, and may God bless you with an uninterrupted nap.

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  4. I called Susie in to read this post a few days ago and as she read she said I don't get that joke (about flying into Vegas) I told her I would explain it later.

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