We booked our return trip from St. Louis on Christmas morning mostly because of the lower price. However, we thought that the plane would be fairly empty. That hope was dashed when we saw the long and getting longer security line after being dropped off at the airport. I do wonder why more airports haven’t adopted the drop-off system at Lambert St. Louis. Cars pull up in diagonal slots, discharge their passengers, and then pull forward into a lane from which they then rejoin the roadway. Anyway, the plane was fairly full. We took two seats in two adjacent rows hoping that no one would want to sit next to kids, but a mother and son took the two aisle seats next to each of us. The plane was packed, and the kept the two last rows empty. We were the sardines of Christmas.
Tag Archives: airplane
Thursday at 5:30 AM things got started. We hustled the kids through an abbreviated morning routine and headed to the airport. I saw a surprisingly long line at the ticket counter, so I decided to not check my bag and head straight for the security line which was thankfully short. After grabbing some breakfast, filling water bottles, and having my daughter unsuccessfully try the bathroom, we rushed to the check-in counter and got the stroller tagged through to Milwaukee where we would change planes. The flight was bumpy but fairly uneventful. I did change my son, but there was really no need. In Milwaukee, we deplaned and our next plane was leaving from a gate only a few steps away. After a time zone heart palpitation, I realized we had an hour, so we walked around and had a snack. I gate checked the stroller through to St. Louis, boarded the plane, and kept the increasingly frustrated son occupied for the hour flight. The seatbelt sign was on the entire way due to weather that had already shut down Kansas City airport. I could see the bank of storm clouds rising above the fairly thick cloud deck and prayed we would make St. Louis in time. I also prayed that my daughter, who had not yet had a productive toilet experience, would not suddenly need to go in this bouncing ball of an airplane. Luckily she didn’t, and we landed amidst gusts and sleet in St. Louis. There was no stroller waiting for us, and it was not to appear. The baggage service person guessed that it hadn’t been loaded in Milwaukee.
As soon as we made it out of the secure gate area, my daughter rushed to my mom screaming, “Grandma, Grandma, Grandma.” The whole waiting area smiled, and my kids started their time with grandparent. For all the challenge of getting them to St. Louis, the transformation in my kids while they are here is magical. They truly take flight when we land.
I thought the flight from Boston was tough, but it was not terrible. The return flight, however, ranks up there as one of the more difficult. I am sure in the collective annals of traveling with children there are far worse, but for me this one is up there.
I knew Reuben would be cranky, but things started auspiciously before we even set foot on the plane. Arriving at the airport comfortably early, read an hour and a half before take off, I got in the line that a security officer told me would be quicker than the rest. Wearing pants that I bought at the height of my weight and now are fashionably saggy without my illicit belt, I managed to waddle my way through the scanner holding the one year-old and comforting the almost four year-old that I was right behind her. Of course I was randomly selected for extra screening. Standing there with my pants threatening to investigate the floor and my daughter helping them by grabbing on as a serious-looking security person walked toward us, I managed to keep my pants on while they did their extra bit of nothing. Meanwhile my convoy of bags and stroller was making a mess of the pickup line from the X-Ray machine. Holding both kids and pants, I then juggled four bags, a stroller, and a suitcase into some semblance of order while also rethreading my belt and retying my shoes. Phew, the worst is over, right?
I decided to do a round of potty and changes before embarking on the plane. I guess I am a sucker for a bathroom bigger than my car’s trunk and for getting both kids through their business at the same time. Ha ha.
The daughter sat on the toilet and said, “No poop, no pee, Dada.” The son was completely dry. However the super sensitive Xlerator hand dryer kept being triggered sending my one year-old into paroxysms of screaming. Quickly the speaker in the bathroom, set for a volume to compete with airport noise from way up in the ceiling, filled the room with mind-numbingly loud announcements of last calls for planes after which my son would increase his screaming and start writhing as I tried to put his new diaper on. My daughter would anxiously inquire each time if that was for our plane. Her earnest question was accompanied by a lean forward that set off the auto flush which then elicited screams from her about her bum getting wet.
“No, Honey,” my calm reply came a little more tersely each time. By the time I had the completely useless bathroom stop completed, both kids were agitated, and I was covered with sweat. Not productive in any sense of the word. Ironically, the waste bin in the room reminded me to recycle. What? The dirty diapers!
Ah, now the worst of it is over, right?
The first hour of the plane ride was similar to the flight out. My son wiggled and made more than the acceptable amount of noise to the non-child-having population. Unfortunately, this plane was mostly full, so there were quite a few around me. The really helpful woman from my flight out was sitting right behind us, and she became even more helpful on this flight. As my son became louder, I decided to walk him to the front of the plane and change him. Last time, the plane bathroom had calmed him (the only time this has happened). The lady, who works with toddlers, offered to sit with my daughter. I opted for taking her up on her offer though I thought I would be right back.
The bathroom did not calm him down at all. Upon exiting, I was carrying my son back when I felt a warm, wet sensation on my hand. Looking down, I saw him starting to puke. On my hand and arm. On the changing bag. On himself. On the carpet next to the first row of seats. This was not one of those little burp and something comes out. This was the Niagara falls of vomit. He soaked the carpet with a very unpleasant smelling white glop.
I hurriedly started cleaning him up with the assistance of a flight attendant who handed me towels as I tried to mop up everything before the front of the plane turned green. While doing this, I changed my son out of his soiled clothes and kept a hold of him. During the tail end of cleanup, I felt and heard the tell tail signs of what I had come to the front of the plane in the first place. I reentered the bathroom with a screaming toddler to find a poop explosion mostly contained by his diaper. Whipping out a new diaper, grease, and the wipes case, I found that I was down to the last two wipes. How that happened, I have no idea, but there I was with a more-than-two-wipes situation. Time for more towels.
After everything had attained the closest approximation to clean I was going to get with the equipment I had at hand, I headed back to the seats as the flight attendant applied activated charcoal to the reeking floor. Funny how all those adoring looks at my cute son had turned to not so joyful glances.
The silver lining to this adventure in the clouds was that my son quickly passed out in the seat next to me for thirty minutes and then was fairly complacent if still demanding when he woke up. My daughter, again, was an amazing trooper through this whole experience.
Several years ago, this would have come close to shattering me. Today, it just tired me out. I was able to grab a shower when my wife got us home. Thank goodness I didn’t have to take the T home from the airport. While she went back to work for the afternoon, I managed my kids and let her do the heavy lifting in the evening routine upon her return.
Home, sweet home!
Today, I travelled from Boston to St. Louis with my two children, aged one and almost four. I have done this in the past, and every time I travel solo with my kids, I get a variety of responses. These are a more exaggerated version of the common, “Oh, giving your wife a break,” or “Babysitting today?” comments that dads with young children get regularly. These comments annoy me. I live in a mecca of leftist leaning citizenry, yet the sex stereotypes for parenting are alive and well there.
Even more dramatic is when, as a solo dad, I enter the airport with two kids in tow. No one has literally fallen over themselves to help me, but it has come close. Folks press elevator buttons (which annoys the heck out of my daughter as it is her privilege to do so), carry my bags, offer to carry my children, and more. This behavior sometimes annoys me, but as any parent who has traveled solo with kids knows, any help is usually a really nice thing. Not responding to the shocked expressions of disbelief or the comments, “You are really brave,” I smile and accept the help.
I should not be getting this help just because I am a man; all parents flying solo with kids should get it. Moms don’t always get this help.