My grandchildren are coming! All of the jumping/hopping/pizza-eating/popcorn-popping establishments have been notified, and I’m striving to get all of my homebound ducks in a row.
I’m so happy they’re coming, but I feel guilty, too. Logistics-wise, it’s so much easier when Harold and I travel to see them. Traveling with children is like launching an Everest expedition with car seats. For my daughter, it was a toss-up: fly or drive? Two hours on a plane with a baby and a preschooler or 10 in the car? Is it less taxing on everyone to suffer the slings and arrows of airport security, be wedged in between…who knows who…on an oversold flight, or strap the kids in for long, long hours of driving and stopping and driving and stopping and trying to find clean restrooms along the way?
Of course bathroom facilities on the plane present their own problems. Apparently, there is a changing table in those two-by-two mini-baths that sometimes pulls down and sometimes doesn’t, which is not a fun thing to discover at 30,000 feet.
Other fun things to discover? That you’ve under-packed. I don’t know if you know this, but the airline will sell you a seat and a soda and headphones and Internet access, but you cannot buy a diaper on the plane. Or batteries for a video game. Or strained peaches. So, when a mom packs a carry-on, she has to account for any and all contingencies.
You won’t be the most popular people on the flight, either. I think that’s why the airlines let families with small children board first–so the rest of the passengers can avoid them accordingly, that and the fact that the C boarding group will be more motivated to check in promptly next time.
I remember traveling with my daughters from Birmingham to Chicago when my younger daughter (now-mommy) was still a baby. We ran out of diapers somewhere over Nashville and she screamed the entire way, while my older daughter sat next to me and ate her kid’s meal Jell-O with her hands. Deplaning passengers, visibly shaken, grabbed my waiting in-laws and said, “Good luck.”
This time, I’ll be the one waiting in baggage claim. I will position myself as close as I can (don’t get in front of me. I can’t promise I’ll be polite about it) and hold out my arms. There will be juice boxes and diapers and snacks and giant glasses of iced tea waiting in the car and chocolate cake available as soon as they get home.
I have baby beds and a vaporizer and a high chair. I have sippy cups and plastic plates and one of those brushes for cleaning out bottles, bubbles and balls and age-appropriate videos. I’ve stockpiled diapers and wipes and applesauce and graham crackers and those chocolate nutritional drinks that come in handy when a 4-year-old is swayed from eating in his usual healthy manner. (That happens a lot at Grandma’s house.)
Basically, I have the arrival covered. I just have to get my grandchildren through the flight, so I’ve come to ask that if any of you happen to be on their plane, be kind. Patient. I’ve suggested that my daughter send around a baggy of earplugs right up front. Maybe a tin of chocolate chip cookies.
And let me know how it goes (gently). I’m using this flight as a test run, because my other daughter will be coming from California with her little one soon.
That’s five hours in the air. She may have to buy everyone a round of drinks.