Thursday, February 23, 2012

2 - 2:40 Cross-Country Solo Flight

I know what she's thinking: Flying is fun!
Today, I flew with L.E. from South Carolina to Reno. Alone. Without Dr. T. It was equal parts stressful, hilarious and exhausting.
Our journey started at 3 am east-coast time as we left my folks' house to get to the airport 100 miles away for a 6 am flight. After I bruised my thumbs and fingers getting my suitcase closed, I woke up the only-asleep-for-four-hours baby girl. L.E. was fussy at first but she managed to muster smiles for her grandparents during the drive.
The odds were in our favor early on when the ticket agent told us both flights weren't full. This gave me hope of L.E.'s own seat or even our own row!
The Charleston airport is small. Instead of a whole store full of magazines and candy, they have a kiosk. The M&Ms are at toddler-level but she didn't notice. Instead, L.E. begged for a $5 bag of trail mix which I happily obliged because the whole mantra while traveling is "Give her whatever she wants so she doesn't freak out." I regretted it the instant we sat on the plane (in our own row!) when I scarfed down the nuts she rejected and my crown popped off my back tooth. (I blame L.E. Why ask for nuts when you're only going to eat the raisins out of it?)
I feel as though I need to point out a very important part of the story: my mom packed over 40 diapers left over from the case she bought for our visit. They were in the suitcase she'd loaned me so I could take L.E.'s 20 new outfits home. (No exaggeration). I had four diapers in the diaper bag. Usually that's enough to get through the day. Usually. I'm sure you can see where this was going.
She drank like a fish the whole day. A bottle of milk, a sippy cup of water, a cup of was inevitable the diapers would fill like water balloons.
I have an unwritten rule (now written) about not sharing L.E. poop stories on the internet. So let's just say we went through all four diapers before we were halfway through the second, longer flight. Fortunately, the lavatory was nicely stocked with maxi-pads. The kind of maxi-pads nobody would ever wear unless they desperately needed them. The kind of maxi-pads that look like you're wearing diapers if you happen to need one while wearing skinny jeans. So I MacGyver'd  two pads together under her onesie and prayed it would hold. (It did)
Overall, the trip was a success. She fussed a little bit just out of sheer boredom. But after some cookie bribery (again, give her whatever she wants so she doesn't freak out) she and i were both able to take a little nap.
Here are some tips to make traveling with a not-quite-two-year-old on a plane.
1. Get an iPad. Seriously. It was a lifesaver.
2. Load said iPad with seasons of the child's favorite show. We only did one season of Yo Gabba Gabba and i feel like we could have used more. And maybe some Elmo thrown in.
3. Take some books, preferably small board books that aren't heavy.
4. Let them peruse the Sky Mall. There are lots of photos of animals in them, surprisingly. But I was disappointed that this issue did not feature the yeti statue.
5. Seriously, give them whatever they want so they don't freak out. Even if you don't normally dish out juice, candy and cookies, you need to make an exception for the safety and comfort of those around you. Hell hath no fury like a pissed-off traveler awakened by a screaming toddler.
6. If your child throws a fit in the airport between connections and someone makes a snide comment, make sure you sit right behind them. This works best when flying on Southwest.
I've been awake for 24 hours straight. I'm off to bed!

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