Monday, October 6, 2014

flying when you're four

Dear Em,
After your last flight, Daddy & I decided that driving was a better mode of travel for all of us. While it may take a little longer to get to our destination, it's more comfortable & spacious for you in our car. There's plenty of room for your toys. You can talk & watch movies & listen to music & kick your feet up & down (like you do) without us having to worry about you bothering any other passengers (other than Daddy & I).

But almost two years have passed, & Daddy started to think that maybe you were ready to fly again. Plus, after too many twelve hour drives that stretched into traffic filled 18 hour drives & road trips that ended in you vomiting due to car sicknesses, I was ready to think about flying again too. So armed with a DVD player & a million DVDs, a coloring book & crayons, books, my iPad, & your iPod, we decided to try flying again for our trip to Ohio.

Daddy dropped us off at the airport, & you gave him a great, big hug. You looked so adorable with your PJs & backpack on, tugging your pink suitcase behind you. We quickly made it through security (I had to explain to you why they were taking pictures of our suitcases) & facetimed with Nonnie as we waited at our gate.

Before boarding our first flight, I noticed my first Mommy-fail. In order to avoid baggage claim late at night, we had taken two carry-ons & two back packs with us. We also had your booster seat. While you deftly managed to drag your suitcase around the airport, there's no way you would be able to carry it onto the flight. I had to find a way to carry both suitcases & your booster in the narrow aisle that runs down the airplane. Then I had to guide you to a seat & lift both carry-ons & your booster into an overhead compartment without holding everyone else up. It was a nightmare, but we made it onto our first flight.

It was then I realize my second Mommy-fail. While I had thought I had charged our portable DVD player, I had left it in the on setting, leaving the battery dead. So, we spent the first flight looking out the window & reading books. You were so excited to watch the plane take off & look at all the lights of the airport as we landed. I was so happy & proud of you that there were no tears or screams from you during the flight (& minimally kicking the seat in front of you), even with a lack of digital devices.

We made it to our connecting flight within plenty of time, & you quietly colored as we waited to board. There weren't any seats near our gate, & you contently sat next to me on the floor. It was after your typical bedtime, & I couldn't believe how amazing you were.

It was while we were sitting at the gate that I remembered your iPod full of Sofia the First, Chloe's Closet, & Mickey Mouse Club House episodes. You were happy to watch the videos all during our next flight. I was happy to learn that we no longer have to shut off your handheld devices during take off & landing. We had a peaceful flight, with you quietly watching videos while I read from my Kindle.

Figuring out how to hold all of our stuff while going down an escalator was quite the challenge once we landed in Columbus (I had visions of you falling down the escalator with your carryon, but luckily a nice man offered to take your carry-on down for us), but we were so happy to arrive at our destination. Unfortunately, Aunt Jayme's house was an hour and a half drive from the airport, & she was stuck in completely stopped traffic an hour away. We were stranded at the airport for a while, & I couldn't believe how well you took it. I found some seats near the exit of the airport, & you quietly & sleepily watched videos until Jayme finally arrived after midnight. You fell asleep mere moments into our drive to Jayme's house.

We had a great visit in Ohio, & when it was time to fly back home I decided this time we'd make it easier by checking one of the carry-ons. I was looking forward to easy flights with my very grown up traveling buddy & getting home earlier than we had arrived at Aunt Jayme's.

Except this time when we went through security, the agent scanning the bags gave a us a perplexed look. "What do you have in your bag," he asked of your pink carry-on. I couldn't think of anything unusual. "Sorry, someone is going to have to check it." A very down to business security agent, grabbed your bag & looked at us accusingly. "What's in your bag?" "Maybe it's her magnatiles," I guessed. His look stayed accusatory as he opened up your suitcase.

Sure enough, it was your magnatiles that had caused the questions. I explained that they were magnetic blocks, but that didn't change the stern look on the security agent's face. He rubbed a white cloth all around them. They must have cleared the not-a-bomb test. I breathed a sigh of relief, looking forward to escaping the intimidating security agent. Except then he opened the ziplock bag we had stored your magnatiles in. "I want her to show me how she uses these." What?! Scared, you shrunk from him. I was scared too. Were we going to airport jail if you didn't build him a tower?

I handed you a few large triangle shapes. "Em, can you show the nice man how we make a cone using triangles?" You relaxed a little & set to work making a cone. When you were done, I proudly held it up to the man. "The things people waste their money on," was his response. I didn't even care. I was just happy when he placed the magnatiles back in your suitcase & let us go.

It seemed like the rest of our trip was going to be pretty uneventful. You watched videos on your iPod. I read from my Kindle. We were almost home.

But then we heard from our pilot. "Folks, the runway lights seem to be malfunctioning in Providence. We're just going to fly around Providence for a little while until the problem is resolved." That was a bummer. We were going to land late, but still no biggie...until we heard the pilot say, "looks like we're going to Boston." What?! That's all he said. I half thought it was a joke, but then we landed at an airport that looked nothing like Providence. We had no idea what was going on. No one told us anything for a while.

You didn't understand why the plane had landed, but we couldn't go to see Daddy. It was late, & I was worried about a meltdown (half of the adults on our plane were having one). You stayed calm though. With a sleepy, sad look on your face, you slumped in your seat & continued to watch your videos.

After learning the runway light malfunction was fixed, refueling, & being cleared to travel in the foggy weather, our pilot finally flew us back to Providence. Two and a half hours later than scheduled, we landed safe & sound. We were exhausted, but happy to be home. I was so incredibly proud of my little travel buddy. You took it all in stride (with the help of tons of activities & digital devices). I can't believe what a difference a year and a half makes.

I see more flying in our future...hopefully with less complications next time.

I love you so,

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