I feel like I need to share what I learned over the course of two flights with my son over the past two weeks. I've flown with him plenty of times before, but he was either small enough to be in my lap or we brought along his car seat, and this was the first time I've ever flown with him alone. Dan doesn't come with me on my annual journey to visit my extended family because he doesn't have much vacation time (in fact this year he was on a business trip), and he's violently allergic to the entire state of Kentucky.
I considered that I'd be alone, and 30+ weeks pregnant and not lifting anything heavier than 25 pounds (ha! Try telling that to the master "collapse in protest"er!) because I'd be following my OB's instructions. I decided not to take Payne's car seat because I figured it would be too much for me to lug around in my delicate state, and I clearly remember the universal look of fear and horror on the faces of stewardesses when one comes up to the entry of the plane with a full sized car seat in tow.
I learned many valuable things on my flight out.
Lesson One: A 30 pound child can slip downwards out of a lap belt.
It was impossible to restrain him. I was quite literally at a loss, and on multiple occasions wished I had a straight jacket in a size 2T...or perhaps a good supply of bungee cords.
Lesson Two: One cannot touch anything on an airplane without disturbing someone else.
Lets see, I had a human ping pong ball in a space smaller than my linen closet. Directly in front of him was a tray table. Naturally this was a source of complete fascination, but I have a feeling the person sitting in front of Payne didn't appreciate being violently jerked backwards as he shoved it down, and then immediately being smacked in the back of the head as he enthusiastically slammed it back up. To Payne's right was a plane window. Great! Except that part where the entire lighting quality of the cabin shifted every time he opened and closed it...at a rate of approximately 4 cycles per second. Thank the Lord there were no epileptics on board. Behind the boy was, well, his seat. Seems innocuous enough, right? And yet, he managed to annoy all of those to his rear by alternately bouncing in it facing backwards and playing a one sided game of peek a boo with some poor saps that just wanted to do their Sudoku puzzles in peace. To Payne's left was me. Oh lucky me, the sacrificial lamb who was desperately attempting to absorb all annoying behavior because she quite literally feared there would be a mutiny on board the plane and Payne would be blacklisted by Continental Airlines.
Lesson Three: Orange snacks aren't the best choice.
Those cheddar blast or whatever they were called Pringles sure seemed like an appealing choice at the time. They did buy me the only 15 minutes of peace I got on the entire flight, but the resulting processed powdered cheese cloud on and around my child was truly horrifying...and impressive, really.
Lesson Four: Airplane bathrooms are completely fascinating...and are easily disassembled.
Well you know I couldn't possibly have made it more than an hour without having to pee, so Payne and I made a joint trip to the airplane bathroom. Yes, we both got in there together. As much as in flight restrooms feel like the inside of a tin can, they actually are quite complex. It took Payne approximately 20 seconds to locate and pull out an entire metal compartment of the "vanity" and partially unroll the toilet paper supply. Therefore, we spent the rest of our visit holding hands, face to face. And, did you know that blue toilet water is the most amazing thing ever? And flushing a toilet with blue water is worthy of extensive discussion? Both in and outside of the restroom? Actually, the whole bathroom trip was discussed enthusiastically and many requests were made to return. I didn't oblige.
Obviously, I was a bit exhausted by the first flight, and made a plan of attack as to how to make the return flight a little simpler. First, I went out a got a portable DVD player, hoping to lull Payne into a sort of Monsters Inc. induced stupor. I also purchased tidier snacks, and fun beverages. Things were much improved by these developments, but I still learned a few more valuable lessons.
Lesson 5: Portable DVD players are a gift from God
Okay, you guys, he was seriously like a little baby zombie. He barely moved for the duration of the movie. The only thing he did was readjust his headphones, occasionally look at me (the move provider) lovingly and exclaim "Mommy!" in a way that totally said "I cannot believe my good fortune!", and drink his juice.
Lesson 6: Several hours of constant juice consumption will lead to a massive diaper failure
Fortunately Payne informed me that he was "all soggy". We had to do an in-seat diaper change and I'm pretty sure Payne flashed a Marine and a woman from San Antonio who had the misfortune of being across the aisle from me. I thanked myself for packing extra pants and zip lock bags for the five millionth time in my child's life. I wonder how many people saw me sopping up his seat with the discarded pants. Ah, motherhood is so glamorous.
Lesson 7: Raisinettes are in fact NOT a tidy plane snack.
So we were landed and headed to our exit gate and I was absolutely elated that we'd made it without any serious incidents. Then I looked down at Payne's seat as he stood on his knees to look out of the window and my brain went something like "OH MY GOD WHAT IS THAT UNSPEAKABLE SUBSTANCE ALL OVER HIS SEAT? HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE? I JUST CHANGED HIM AND IT'S ALL OVER HIS LEGS TOO! I HAVE NO MORE CLEAN PANTS! WE ALMOST MADE IT! WHAT HAPPENED? AM I GOING TO STROLL HIM ALL OVER THE AIRPORT PANTSLESS? DID THE LADY FROM SAN ANTONIO SEE THIS NASTINESS?!"
I then whipped out a baby wipe and scooped up the offending matter, only to realized that Payne had sat on a Raisinette quite a bit ago and it had melted under his butt. So yeah. Don't do the Raisinettes!
I'm sort of proud that I managed to take him on a plane by myself while heavily pregnant. I figure if I could manage now, I know I can do it whenever I need to. So I guess next year I'll learn some valuable lessons about flying alone with a 10 month old and a 3.5 year old! (nervous giggles turn quickly into tears)