I'm writing this to provide hope to all the parents who are currently wrangling multiple children under the age of 4, particularly those who are flying with infants and toddlers this summer. Though sometimes God hands you a free one, if you have more than one tiny traveling companion (and sometimes if you only have one), just fasten your seatbelts and make sure your tray tables are up and locked for your looooong flight to Suckville. There are things you can do to make it better, of course, but you can't control everything, and if you're tightly wound like me, the anxiety of trying to fend off the screaming and whining and the hatred of your fellow passengers is its own form of torture even on the off chance that everything goes pretty well. Usually there is at least one moment in which you might contemplate jumping out of the plane without a parachute. The good thing is, it doesn't last forever.
Example 1: Mommy, Tweak (3) and Tink (18 months) Fly DC to Denver
We were flying out to meet my now-ex husband who had been at a conference and who, for some reason, had booked us into 2 seats so that I could have the joy of flying with a toddler on my lap while trying to manage the other toddler in the adjacent seat. My advice? Never, ever do that. Upon boarding, we were joined by the lady in the next seat, a Sanctimonious Older Woman (SOW) in a cream linen suit who took one look at us and said, "I hope your children aren't too messy, because I didn't bring that many clothes for this trip." I suggested she try to be re-seated, but she didn't do it. Let the buyer beware, sister.
Our journey began with a 2 hour ground hold. Gave kids the snacks I'd packed for mid-flight, and they turned on the seat back screens, the kind where you could pick your own programming. We chose cartoons, which was great for about 10 minutes until Tweak deemed them too scary. No more cartoons. Lots of discussion about why we weren't going anywhere, several potty trips, all in flight toys played with and dismissed, all crayons tossed to the floor and irretrievably lost. Then we took off.
Severe turbulence over the entire Midwest. Somewhere over Kansas, Tweak threw up all over himself and his carseat, which I'd installed on the plane to avoid fighting with him over keeping his seatbelt on. Changed his clothes and tried to decontaminate the carseat. About the time we got settled back in, he hurled again. Repeat process, but he didn't want to go back into the disgusting carseat, for which I couldn't really blame him. There was nowhere to stow the carseat, so
there was no choice but to shoehorn him in while he screamed bloody murder. Tink obliviously wanted to stand on my lap and Jump! Repeatedly! On my internal organs! Tried to re-introduce toys, which were so 3 hours ago. Tried to calm Tweak with ginger ale, which he threw up again. Tried singing, story-telling, sympathy, shushing, anything to keep everyone calm, but nothing doing. Tweak puked some more, Tink wriggled like a beached baby sea lion, and there was a lot of crying.
This! Really! Blows!
At hour 6 of this ordeal, we finally reached Denver, only to learn that there was bad wind sheer, and we would be circling indefinitely until such time as either we could land or we ran out of fuel and plummeted from the air. I really didn't care at that point which happened first, because right as they told us to stay in our seats, (1) Tink produced an especially foul-smelling poop, (2) Tweak threw up again, and (3) Tink kicked over the cranberry juice of the SOW next to us, all over her cream linen pantsuit (who orders cranberry juice while wearing cream linen and sitting next to 2 toddlers on a flight with turbulance?). The SOW felt that this was an ideal time to lecture me on my parenting skills, and I started sobbing.
The kicker? When we finally landed, as we were de-planing, the flight attendants offered the SOW a bunch of free drink tickets for her return flight. I think it was pretty obvious who most needed a drink at that point.
Example 2: Tweak (8), Tink (6), and Mommy Fly To San Diego
We flew out of Dulles, connecting through Chicago Midway. I gave Tweak some Dramamine about an hour before the first flight. The kids watched "Hoodwinked" on the iPad during the first flight and finished on the second flight. Tweak then opted to read his Choose Your Own Adventure Book, while Tink watched a second movie (Benji), then did some drawing with her new colored pencils and sketchpad. Kids had snacks, and we picked up sandwiches prior to our connection. No puking. I finished a novel during the flight and started another. It was awesome, y'all. I felt like this guy:
Anyway, I know that "this, too, shall pass" is not the answer people most want when they're neck-deep in the suck, but a lot of things do get easier as your kids get older and you get less worried about everyone else. It's not like everything is easy now, because there are different kinds of challenges, but I truly do appreciate the things that have gotten better.