Bring your magic wand!
Traveling with children requires expertise. Traveling with children on a plane requires expertise, magical powers, a coat of armor and a heck of a lot of patience.
I was once an expert at the intricacies of keeping track of diaper bag, bottles, binkie and baby; ONE baby. Traveling with more than one child would be like comparing climbing Mt. Hood, challenging enough, to climbing Mt. Everest, requiring a team of sherpas to help manage the basics.
As I write this blog I am traveling solo half way across the United States to visit family. Following the flight I experienced today, I can say I am now an expert at being a co-passenger of parents with children.
I am glad I brought ear plugs.
I am not criticizing or judging fussy babies. I have an inner ear disorder and the prolonged sound of the plane engines can trigger vertigo. When the flight attendants or pilot make announcements I sometimes experience great pain in my ‘bad ear’, depending on the decibel level of the intercom system. I always travel with ear plugs, nice foamy soft ones that block noise really well.
Babies inform us they don’t like change of air pressure
On today’s first flight there were two young children and their mom seated behind me; a toddler and an infant. First, I applaud the parents for taking on the endeavor (no sherpas in sight). I am sure grandparents were waiting in happy anticipation at the destination. Family is important.
I understand that pressure changes inside the airplane can cause discomfort for tiny ears. Add on the unfamiliar surroundings, loud noises, disruption to routine and, well, I sometimes feel like crying too, by the time I get through security and the crowd and finally buckled up in my seat. Small children can be quite upset and tired by the time the trip is only half underway.
Oh! The things kids might say!
As I traveled this first leg of my trip today with whimpering children behind me, I reminisced about a flight I once made from Portland, Oregon to Boise, Idaho with my then 7 year old granddaughter. It was a one hour flight and pretty easy-peasy as flights go. She, her father and I had flown together to Disneyland the prior summer with no issues, so I thought nothing of our Boise flight.
We were buckled in and waiting for take-off when suddenly, in panic mode, my granddaughter loudly proclaimed several times, “This plane is going to crash! This plane is going to crash!”
Time stood still for a moment as the people in the seat ahead of me turned with eyes targeted on me. The people across the aisle leaned over to look at me. People in seats ahead were standing to look at me. Standing! It was bizarre. I was on stage and I was being judged.
I had traveled by air with my son from the time he was 2 years old and never had he expressed fear of flying. It was me in those early years of motherhood who was afraid to fly. I sweated with anxiety over wild visions of disaster for days prior to a flight, but I lived half a nation away from my family and the only way I could visit them, realistically, was via air travel.
Somewhere over the years I learned to let go and enjoy the marvel of flying. The thrust of the engines as the plane charges down the runway, the thrill of lift off as the ground falls away, the beauty of being above the clouds, and the skill of the pilot as he brings us safely back to earth.
A panicked 7 year old
But, here I sat with a panicked 7 year old and all eyes on me. I brushed away any ill feelings I imagined from the prying eyes of my fellow passengers. My priority was calming my granddaughter. After numerous reassurances that we weren’t going to crash, that the pilot was an expert flyer, and that Grandpa was waiting in Boise, we were soon backing away from the gate. Fortunately, the movement of taxiing intrigued my granddaughter and she immediately calmed. Once we were airborne with headphones, an iPad, and a root beer, she commented that, “Flying is as simple as riding a bus”. Whew!
Being a co-passenger requires patience and kindness
Yes, I felt for the parents on a very crowded plane today with the toddler who fussed most the trip and the baby who cried, a lot. I didn’t turn to glare at them, I didn’t complain to my neighbor about them, I simply plugged in my ear foamies and was thankful it wasn’t me having to deal with the children.
What stories or advice to you have when traveling with children on a plane? I would love hearing from you.
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