Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Tate and the Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Flight

I had a small break in my schedule in April, so we quickly located tickets and planned a trip to North Carolina to visit my parents. It was supposed to be warmer in Charlotte than San Diego; Tate had not met his youngest aunt yet; and I needed some real R&R. So off we went.

We were smart about it: we got Tate his own seat.

And we are about as experienced as any other casual traveler can be. Heck, in the past 12 months, including this trip to North Carolina, our kids have been to Washington state, China, Hong Kong (which I suppose is part of China), Ohio, and now North Carolina. That's a lot of miles in a single year.

Well, it turns out our "big kids" have spoiled us. They sit quietly. They do not scream. They do not kick. They mostly entertain themselves with food and games and movies and sleeping. They are mostly patient. They are pretty darn good travelers.

But Tate- not so much. My first mistake was booking a flight that coincided exactly with nap time. He got super exhausted and then just cried and cried and cried (really, screamed and screamed and screamed). Normally I would just let him cry himself to sleep, but of course you can't really do that on a plane or the other passengers will eat you. So I did my best to rock him -- and after about an hour of screaming, he finally passed out. Just in time for us to land in Chicago and navigate to our next flight.

It was not until I was in the midst of his devilish screaming that I remembered Casey at age 2. Once I was flying alone with him, and I brought him into the toilet stall with me (it was the large, wheelchair accessible one, and he convinced me to let him out of his stroller). He crawled out under the stall and took off-- and I had to chase after him while pulling up my pants and dragging the stroller from behind. (Now I know to leave the kid in the stroller no matter how loudly he yells at me.) And I remember literally pressing my body on Casey's legs one flight to get him to stop kicking the seat in front of him. I don't know that it really worked. Poor passenger in front of me. Sigh. But that stage was so brief. I think. Isn't it amazing how little we remember those irritations?

I can't say we won't do it again soon. In fact, I am hoping we will get to go somewhere fun this summer.

Any advice from seasoned travelers with toddlers? If you are on a 5-6 hour flight, how do you entertain a child who likes to play in toilets, pull chewed-up gum out of trash cans and eat it, and throw toys out the back door into the yard? (Coincidentally, he seems to have calmed down on that last one after throwing a toy out what he thought was the open back door only to discover the door was closed. The loud crash and the projectile toy coming back at him scared the heck out of him. For now.)

P.S. Do you think it means something that both my terrible travel experiences have come resulted from my boys? Maybe we just didn't travel when Marcie was this age-- that's certainly plausible. I would not say that Marcie is less mischievious-- just that her mischief is, well, more brainy.


:::d::: said...

Traveling with a toddler is hell. I almost always travel solo with Lola and our longest flight has been to Minnesota, but since we took Southwest, we took THREE planes to get there and THREE planes to get back. (I learned my lesson.) I pack an entire carry on suitcase dedicated to toys and snacks. Some of the toys are new, while some are her favorite ones from home. I also bring the DVD player and allow her to watch as much as she wants. And I bring a king size bag of M&Ms to use as bribes for when she is on the verge of an in-flight tantrum. ;)

Janet and Kevin said...

I don't have any good advice for you, but I got very tickled over your story about taking Casey into the stall and letting him out of his stroller. I could just picture what happened next! Too funny! Thank you for my chuckle of the day!

Hope the flights get easier with Tate. That is the very reason Elijah is not going with us this next trip to CHina to bring back our daughter. Philip is pretty good in traveling situations - Elijah - not so much! :) Elijah is not even good out in public anywhere yet!

Janet and gang

Anonymous said...

My 29 month old(adopted at 7mos) has been on 26 flights(we travel with daddy when he goes out of town to work) including two to Ethiopia.

If we can help it we don't book flights during nap time. I get dollar store toys and snacks and get it out as needed. I always let him try to open the package by himself as this buys me extra time!

Mama to Xavier adopted from Ethiopia