I've always kind of enjoyed the excitement of traveling by airplane. When I was younger, it made me nervous (especially if there was any turbulence at all during the flight) but I still enjoyed walking through the airport. I loved watching people scurry around to get to their gates. I savored the anticipation of arrival in a new destination or of returning home after many months.
Now that I'm traveling by myself with a toddler, I don't have much time to think about the excitement. I'm nervous again. Will she nap? Will she nurse? Will she sit still? Will she tell me if she has to go potty? Will she cry? Will her ears hurt? Will we be delayed? Will we crash?
I thought about all of this months ago when I was selecting flights. I picked the times she was most likely to nap. I picked the quickest possible route with the least amount of stops and transfers.
Before we left I packed her favorite books, toys, crayons, paper, coloring books...all the while hoping she would just nurse and fall asleep for the duration of the flight.
She cried when we left J. at security. It almost broke my heart to hear her screaming, "Daddy, Daddy!"
She calmed down quickly after security and happily ran around at the gate until it was time to get on the plane. She even told me she had to go potty before we got in line to board.
Once we were on the plane, she got antsy. Despite having been awake since 4:30am, she had no interest in sleeping. She wasn't very loud but she was squirmy. She didn't want to sit still. She wanted to climb on the seats and was very unhappy when I stopped her from joining the folks in the row in front of us.
Fortunately, all the passengers near us thought she was cute. When she cried they assumed her ears hurt.
"Yes", I told them, "I'm sure it's her ears". I didn't want to tell them she was having a tantrum because I wouldn't let her do downward dog with her feet on the window and her hands on the seats.
I counted down the minutes until we got our drinks and peanuts. Crinkling the bag and picking up the peanuts one by one and dropping them in my cup occupied at least a minute and a half. It was way more fun than anything I brought along. She colored with her crayons for about 30 seconds but it didn't hold her interest. She didn't even want to take her other toys out of the bag.
We had an unscheduled plane change that took up some time and provided some excitement. Luckily it didn't delay us at all. On our second flight we had some nice moments where she enjoyed the clouds and the little houses and buildings down below. I loved watching her take it all in. For a moment I relaxed and felt like I was able to share with her the excitement of flying.
Ten minutes before we landed at our final destination she calmed down enough to nurse. I was so happy we got through landing without her ears hurting.
And we didn't crash. That was nice too.
I'd like to send my fellow passengers thank-you notes. Thank you for not minding that my daughter cried a little and probably kicked your seat a few times. Thanks for understanding that she was just being a kid. I appreciate that. Traveling with a toddler on a plane is stressful. Thanks for being nice.
Thank you L. for being such a good girl. I'm a lucky mommy. It could have been way worse. I'm glad you find flying exciting.
Now all we have to do it survive the plane ride home.