Now don't get me wrong, I only have one child-but I'm convinved that traveling with one toddler is like traveling with 16 regular children. James used to be all portable and cute and little (wait, he was never little) Ok, so James used to be all cute and um, cooperative when we flew places. I mean, really, he had been on 12 flights in the first 8 months of his life. It was great, little old ladies would beg to hold him and flight attendants would tell us he should be on the Gerber jars and the cranky security people would be quick to fold and unfold our stroller while smiling at him. Ah, what a dream! BUT, fastforward from 8 months to 15 months and MAN IS THERE A WORLD OF DIFFERENCE!
Ok, so people still stop and tell us how beautiful James is, and he pauses to smile at them as if to say "Ha Ha, silly people, don't sit near me on the plane". While we are still waiting in the terminal I have to suppress an overwhelming desire to buy large quantities of candy and earplugs to hand out to the people in all surrounding rows-but James has turned on the charm and I am 'lulled into a false sense of security", yep, just before getting dragged down into toddler travel he**. As a matter of fact, he was soooo cute in the El Paso airport: he picked the most crowded aisles of waiting passengers and walked between them, stopping to touch each and EVERY person on the knee and then smile at them. I was all aglow with mama pride as people went gaga over him (and his darling outfit)and thought "yeah, everyone just adores my baby". Yeah, they adored him because 1)They didn't have to hold him on the plane, 2)They hadn't yet sat near us on the plane, and 3)They didn't have to go home with him after being with him on the plane.
Ok, ok, so on with the actual flights. I don't know that I have the desire to relive what all 4 flights were like-so lets just do it Reader's Digest style:
So when you fly with a toddler, apparently the goal is to have approximately 15,000 activities/distractions/sedatives up your sleeve at any one time as to never have a moment in which they realize that they can't get up and wander the plane. AND NO, bringing his favorite things from home was NOT HELPFUL! HE didn't want his stupid old toys and books. Here is a true accounting of SOME of the things we did to entertain James on the flights:
*Let him have his way with every SkyMall magazine. Don't own a shredder? We'll let you borrow James.
*I used the safety info card to tell him a story about "Airplane's Bad Day".
*Put the tray down and had him try to pick up pieces of ice. (We also batted them around as if to play air hockey).
*Since he can't drink from a straw, I held my thumb on the straw and gave him approximately 50 drinks that way. (Hey, it took up time, right?)
(Fighting to get down)
*Played "where's the gold fish?" with his crackers. Hid it under, over, in, out, everywhere and tried to be excited about finding it for the millionth time.
*A personal favorite: Raising and Lowering the windowshade. It was my job to push it up, it was his job to pull it down. That lasted a good long while. Not too bad-until you realize that you're repeatedly blinding the people across the aisle.
(Back to crying)
*Made a puppet out of the barf bag. He was entertained as it tried to eat him. That lasted about 2 minutes.
*I bit the chocolate parts of Almond M&Ms off and fed the microscopic pieces to him. He subsequently spit the shells onto his white T-shirt. (Note to self: NEVER put a white shirt on a travelin kid!)
*I kissed, 'snacked on', tickled, etc his hand CONSTANTLY to keep him from pulling the people's hair in front of us.
*We stood the hefty 38lb boy on our laps so he could look at everyone behind us.
*Let him pull out tons of baby wipes and discard them as I try to clean up his foul milk-goldfish-applejuice-chocolate spit up. (SPIT UP? COME ON! You're 15 months old! Spitting up is for BABIES! HA!)
And there were many other strategic manuevers-I just don't want to relive them. At one point I told Ben, "If you can get him to sleep on this flight, I'll wash the babas for a week!" Yeah, I know where James' loyalties lie, Ben had him asleep in 5 minutes which made me want to yell, "WHY DIDN'T YOU DO THAT SEVERAL HOURS AGO????!!!!!!" Yeah, so its my week washin the babas.
I think one of the funniest things that happened was in the terminal in Dallas. He was literally stalkin this one 18-20 year old guy. This particular man happened to be eating out of a Mcdonalds bag, so I was thinkin that he wanted a french fry or something. (james had just recently had his first taste of fries, and is a fan-much to my chagrin.) Anyway, he kept inching closer and closer and giving this guy sideways glances and I was keeping an eye on him so that he couldn't go and 'beg' or steal. All of a sudden james ran over to him, grabbed his stack of napkins and THREW THEM IN THE AIR and RAN AWAY. The guy looked at him like "What the heck?" and I didn't know whether to laugh or apologize. It was just so random-but really funny at the same time. I picked up the napkins for the guy (though I hope he didn't use them after they were on the airport floor) and went after James.
So the best part of traveling with a toddler (besides pre-boarding)is how tired they get and how well they sleep at the end of it all. Oh yeah, and a vacation.