Thursday, December 20, 2007

flight and fight

let it be known that flying halfway across the country with a 2 year old, a baby and no stroller is no easy task. because i'm sure most people would consider it to be a breeze, a walk in the park and a piece of cake. but i did it.

i had help, though. i would have died (figuratively) without it.

the day before the trip i called airport security and came up with a game plan with the lady on the phone. she was very helpful and a little too enthusiastic. it turns out that when you're checking in you can ask for a special security clearance thingamie for someone to come with you to the gate. gate h, in my case.

the flight left at 9.15 so we arrived at the airport at 8. my friend and i juggled babies and checked luggage. no biggie. then my friend decided to get a cup of coffee. again, no biggie. the boy was in awe of the real live airport, and a little nervous, so he stuck close. security and the gates are all upstairs so we had to take the elevator. so my friend, (a 6'3 metis woman with a cane) the boy, myself (with the baby strapped to my chest) and a luggage cart with my backpack and the boy's carseat got on the elevator. an elderly couple with matching walkers joined us. it was cozy. especially when the elevator got stuck.

it had gone up a floor and was hiccuping, going up and down a few inches, over and over and over... my mind went straight to the worst case scenario, where both babies start screaming, we have to be rescued with the jaws of life, and i pee on the floor. what actually happened is the older man pressed the 'open door' button and the doors opened. who, me? melodramatic?

then we realized that my friend couldn't go through security with her coffee. it was about 8.30 so there was no huge rush, but there was an insane line for security, so she slurped that coffee up. sort of. she is a pretty slow coffee drinker, it took her about 15 minutes to drink that little cup.

finally she was done and we were on our way. the babies and i flew through, i'd planned ahead so none of us had any metal on us. but my friend wasn't thinking about metal detectors when she had gotten dressed that morning... she ended up being frisked quite thoroughly by a man who called her 'sir'.

it was almost 9 when we reached the gate and the flight was already boarding. oops. i bid adieu to my friend (who, despite the delays she caused, saved my life. how could i have made it with a wandering boy, a carseat, a backpack and a baby without her? i couldn't. thanks, amber!) then got the pleasure of carrying everything while trying to herd the boy down the long walkway thing and onto the plane.

airplane aisles are not designed to accommodate people as heavily laden as i was. and half the people had already boarded. i got a lot of sympathetic smiles as i urged the boy to walk ahead of me, no, come back, ok, this is your seat, no move over while i plug in this car seat... i'm a slender woman but i felt huge, trying to navigate that tiny space.

eventually i had the boy in his carseat, next to the window. the carseat was critical to my strategy, since he can't get out of it without help. a lapbelt wouldn't have held him down for more than a few seconds. he loved his window. there was an airport out there! and a tanker truck and a pickup truck and people and... a huge, huge woman coming to sit with us. she filler her seat and overflowed into mine. did i mention that the boy's carseat was a few inches wider than his seat? i was left with about half a seat for myself and the baby. cozy.

the boy loved the takeoff and was fascinated with his view for a little while, but then it got old. so i broke out the snacks. those were great... for about ten minutes. then i pulled out some books he'd never seen before... there was another ten minutes of fun. then came an hour and a half of pulling at his carseat and complaining that he was stuck.

thankfully he never got as loud as the kid across the aisle, who was teething. compared to that kid my son was an angel. but 2 year olds aren't good at sitting still, being bored and overheated, for two straight hours. but he made it. at one point the woman sitting in front of us turned around to sing 'old macdonald' to the boy. it was surreal, having a complete stranger sing a silly song out of the blue like that.

deplaning was the trickiest bit. the airport is a tiny regional one where people have to walk outside from their aircraft to the building. so i had to bundle up both boys while still in that tiny space. a flight attendant helped me get the boy and the carseat to the top of the (icy) stairs. then an air traffic controller carried him down the stairs. then an airport employee carried the carseat & backpack while i got both boys inside... we had to walk very, very slowly, since the boy only has very short legs. eventually we made it inside the building... and there was no one there to meet us.

really, they showed up a few minutes later and everything was fine, but i wanted to end on a dramatic note. either way, good story, non?


  1. you did good Mama. All in all it could have been worse, but certainly sounds eventful nonetheless. Last time I flew with Autumn she was 3.5 months old, and cried the entire flight. Sucked. But doing it with two? I bow to your courage.

  2. Having heard your story in person, I can say the online version was much more tame. You sure seem to have a great deal more patience than I. Oh yes. But I bet I do a better "dead cat face". :-P

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