Thursday, May 18, 2006

File Under Flightplans

Right before the flight I knew we were in trouble. El Guille laid down on the terrazzo flooring in front of the gate and cried. We weren’t even on the plane yet.

Although I literally dragged him through security, I encouraged him onto the plane, hoping that things would settle once we were buckled in. The day before I succumbed to the lure of the Bulls-Eye Boutique and had purchased a portable DVD player, complete with wireless headphones. Consider it an investment in future travel, I reasoned. Secretly, I was a little annoyed at El Guille for throwing a pre-flight fit–he didn’t even know that he was going to get to watch a certain clown fish perform amazing adventures and if he’d known that then maybe he wouldn’t be getting off to such a bad start. Bygones.

We found our assigned seats, middle and aisle. The elderly woman at the window threw daggers at us when we rolled into the row. In Guille’s defense, he was being an angel at this point. No loud noises, no unreasonable requests, happy as a clam was he, eating his goldfish and drinking O.J.

Let’s pause here and say that I owe an apology to Roald Dahl. He tried to warn us all with the seminal classic The Witches, and I, for one, will admit that I thought the story was fiction.

However here, in real and toe-curling life, a witch was at the window. She looked like the stink of Guille (freshly washed) would make her ill. Every movement of his resulted in a flinch from her. At one point she used her long, curved fingernails to pointedly put a blanket on her side to protect her white pants. I don’t need this, I thought, come ON, you’re wearing white pants, how clean do you expect them to stay while traveling. An errant two year old is not your foe–or is it you square toed, bald harpy? I began to fume.

Guille waved his tightly sealed sippy cup around and she let some expletives lose.

I lost it.

"What? WHAT? You’ve never been two?"

She snorted, "Well I wasn’t handicapped when I was two. *Expletive*"

"You never had kids, your children were never two years old?"

"Well I certainly never let them behave like this. They never *expletive* behaved like that"

"Oh yes they did, YOU just can’t remember!" I let fly.

That shut her up.

At this point, 30 minutes into the flight Guille is actually starting to get restless. I, quick thinking super-mom on the move, pull out the DVD player, secure in the knowledge that it will solve all his needs. As I pull it out, I notice looks like...the in the "On" position. My heart sinks, and sure enough as soon as I start the DVD "battery low" flashes and it dies.

I have no backup plan.

In a moment of Jaimes induced clarity, I had purchased a new toy tractor for El Guille on the way to the terminal. That toy saved our lives. We walked up and down the aisle, he pushing the tractor and me observing.
Delta is awesome. A flight attendant named Connie, when informed of the fatality of the DVD Player, encouraged Guille to play in the galley at the rear of the plane. A little more space, some walking around. We spent 20 minutes in the bathroom at one point (playing in the sink.) You try entertaining a 2.5 year old with nothing but a tractor and simple carbs on a four hour flight.

Even the coloring book and crayons I thought I'd put into the carry-on weren't there. To top it off, the underwire in my new support system malfunctioned, repeatedly punching holes into me and into my shirt. Five gaping holes in my favorite turquoise shirt greet me when I raise my arm slightly. Oh the pride of the mighty; see how they have been stricken down by their worship of 7" false idols.

After my insinuation of our row-mate’s lack of mental acuity, we began making concessions to each other. She saw the death of the DVD and spoke sweetly to El Guille. She explained that as she can’t use her legs it is easy to injure herself (say from a child kicking them) and she wouldn’t even know. I assured her he wouldn’t enter her personal safety zone. After a few shared conversations she was even throwing endearments around--and Guille was lapping it up.

"You sure are a stinker," she growled. He’d beam up at her. "You’re full of crap and vinegar, yes you are, crap and vinegar." Megawatt smile.
The rest of the passengers pitched in, flirting with him, playing peek-a-boo, and sharing jerky. As one lady said, "So you have a kid, they can deal."

Thank heaven for Grandmas at the end of the gate. A sun-shiny ride to grandmother’s house: over the bridges and through the cypress trees we go!

Tomorrow: 9 holes, for mom, and more toys than one child ever has the right to own, for El Guille.


Rachel said...

how fun. where in the world are you? and oh, the joys of flying with children. i just did 2!! kids on a flight with just one me and no was heinous and insensitive. little esther was short-circuiting and leah was actually as well behaved as she possibly could be. thank heavens for almost-4 and kind of out of the i-will-get-you-while-your-down, mom, phase. i, fortunately, was not sitting next to any manner of witch. she was nice, she was kind, and she was laughing at my little giggabot almost the whole way. the people behind me were a whole different story...

~j. said...

Wait - "I wasn't handicapped when I was two" - but she is now? I don't get it. Whatever you decide to call her, I'd like it to end in "hole". Witchhole works well.

Also wonderful with children - Frontier Airlines. Fellow passengers, not so much. (Don't even get me started...)

more caffeine, please said...

You are a brave, brave woman. May I suggest Benadryl for the ride home? Did I say that?

Bek said...


I was laughing and crying b/c this is so familiar to me. I try and fly Southwest if at all possible b/c of the open seating. You either 1) sit next to all the other kids b/c you all board early 2) Sit next to someone who chooses you b/c they don't mind babies or 3) sit next to someone that has no choice b/c they are too late to get a choice so it is their own d@#$ fault anyway. There is the coveted 4th one sitting next to you but that one is more elusive.

We took Lauren to London when she was 18 months (to visit Oh Judy and the Jolly Porter). We bought a DVD player too...but she wouldn't wear the headphones. Hence, the Best of Elmo for 10 hours. Even now if I hear those songs I want to vomit. She wasn't too bad b/c it was a redeye. On the way back.....not so much. We spent 11.5 of the 12 hours of the flight in the bathroom. Playing with the sink and the cups. :-)

When we took Jacob to Chicago last summer we had a similar challenge. 4 hours. We got a bulk head seat bu the cried and cried unless we gave him ice. :-)So the kind flight attendent gave us cup after cup after cup of ice. I am suprised he didn't explode. But we kept a jumping and screaming Jacob full of ice for 4 hours.

I have never had someone be so blatant about their hatred of kids. I have had a few dads mutter under their breatht that "if they wanted kids around they would be with their families". To which I have responded more then once OUT LOUD that they are pretty d@!#$ lucky that their wives haven't left them yet w/ attitudes like that. What is wrong with people?

Good job Mom!!! Sorry about the holes in your shirt and bravo for the tractor. We always buy at toy at the airport for that very same reason. Always!

cabesh said...

Oh, I'm so glad it turned out okay. I flew sans husband, but with both kids 3 times last summer. We had wonderful neighbors everytime--both men and women.

I hate that Delta doesn't let you pre-board with kids. It's not so easy to fold up an umbrella stroller while trying to control the 2 year old that was just freed from said stroller AND reaching around the 6 month old in the Baby Bjourn. Just let us pre-board!!!!

Good luck on the way back!

lisa v. clark said...

Thank you for reminding me of what traveling to Europe with two small children (one with diahhrea) was like, and thank you for reminding me of the traveling luxury I'm about to indulge in. . .

"YOU DON'T REMEMBER!" --my favorite line EVER.

La Yen said...

Carina, my soul sister. I feel you pain. So freaking much.

When my sister-in-law flew with her first child for the first time, Papo upgraded her seat to 1st class. She boarded, and the guy next to her gave her the dirtiest look--the "How
dare you infringe on first class with a one-month old baby" look. Then he accidentally spilled red wine ALL OVER her hand-knit white baby blanket and child. He got much nicer after that, and was a charming companion.

Sometimes a 10 hour drive seems easier than a three hour flight, if you are travelling with no esposo. At least no one will see the beatings.

Kiki said...

OMG!... did you not reach over and shove her head through the fuselage?

Thinking of traveling with children gives me the shakes. It's one of my worst nightmares. So to all of you mothers who travel with babies, I salute you. Y'all are more woman than I could ever be.

Azúcar said...

Well, first of all, I usually like older people, so that's why I didn't shove her head through. However, when I am tired, my fuse gets to be this small (very small) and I just can't or won't take crap.

Guille and I have flown often. This, however, was the first time with no nursing and no benedryl. I am going back to the benedryl.

Normally, people say "Wow, your child is so well behaved! I've never flown with a child like that!" To which I normally respond, "I slipped him a mickey."

We are in FLA USA.

Kiki said...

If you put those together, then you'd be in FLAUSA, which sounds like a really beautiful and exotic place unlike Florida, even though Florida mythically has some beautiful places like Arizona, New Mexico, and the Dakotas supposedly do.