No one looks forward to flying with young children. If we could have sent Nora, three, and Josie, one, by FedEx and just met them in England we would have. Instead, we braced ourselves and dealt with the fact that if we wanted to take them along for a month-long work trip – let’s face it, there was no way we’d have even taken the trip if we had to arrange childcare and be away for that long – we’d have to be trapped on a plane with them for eight hours. We’d also have to endure the stares of strangers, which ranged from pity, to disgust, and even fear.
Check-in and security was ok. Nora asked for water maybe 5,000 times while we inched our way through the security line, but that’s typical. If you have a three-year-old all you need to do is get in a really long line and your child will need the one thing you don’t have at that particular moment. At least she didn’t need to use the bathroom.
Luckily, Josie just sat silent in her stroller-car seat combo. Seriously, she’s the most chill child ever. By the time we’d finished the metal detector bit, Nora was done. Blame it on the fact that it was now 6:30 p.m and she hadn’t napped at all that day (hey, I figured it’d make sleeping on the plane that much easier), but she was ready to strap into her own car seat — we’d hoped they’d let us take it on the plane — and have Sal roll her to the gate.
I don’t know if it was the 45 minutes of dehydration we forced upon her, the vibrations of the luggage rack dragging the car seat along the floor, or the 45 degree angle she was tilted on, but just as we rolled up to our gate, Nora began to emit an animal-like moan. It sounded like something was dying. Great first impression for the people who are beginning to realize the moaning girl is going to be on THE SAME PLANE AS THEM.
We stopped and gently coaxed her to use words to tell us what was wrong and she mumbled out that her head hurt. She also muttered something about thinking she might throw up. I ran her to the closest bathroom, thank goodness it was just across from the gate. Instead of throwing up, though, she made a huge number two, and she acted like she felt better. Great, right? Crisis averted. The plan was to get some water in that girl, feed her something, and get her to sleep on the plane.
It seemed like as soon as we got settled in the waiting area and she had had a little to drink she was complaining she might need to throw up again. So, again, I rushed her to the bathroom, except this time I was disoriented and by the time she finished another number two in what I assumed was the same stall, I was surprised to find myself in the men’s room. A man wandered in as we left and looked at me like I was losing it. Which, at that moment, I was.
Once again we settled into seats in the waiting area. I was actually pleased with the fact that Nora, who typically eats more than me at any given time, wanted to strap into her car seat and go to sleep instead of eating. When a child wants to go to sleep sitting upright, you let them. She was tired. There was peace for about 15 minutes. I ate, changed Josie’s diaper, and let myself relax for a few minutes.
Of course, when our flight began to board we were stuck with a child sleeping in a car seat that may or may not get approved for the aircraft. It wasn’t. So, we were forced to wake Nora up to gate check her seat, and since we were carrying so much stuff she was going to have to walk. We tried to get her excited about getting on the plane (she’d flown with me months earlier so she knew what it would be like), but such a short nap on top of not feeling well meant she was back to making the moaning dead animal noise as we bypassed all the people who enjoy lining up before their boarding zone is called. I could feel them dreading being seated anywhere near us.
Nora settled down a little as we got on the plane and delighted in having her own seat. She was too excited to just go back to sleep. I was peeved that she couldn’t be in her car seat but apparently it was too big for this plane. Oh, well. Everyone staggered on, shoved their stuff into the overhead compartments, and either ignored us or gave us a look of pity. Yikes.
We were in the middle front row of a coach section, with Sal and I on each aisle and Nora in the middle. Josie was content to be in my lap. She sucked her pacifier and did a little dance as we took off. Nora, who was already pale, somehow became even whiter. She’d said she didn’t want more water, so Sal encouraged her to move her jaw to help with pressure changes.
I guess the look of worry on our faces caught the attention of the closest flight attendant because the second the seat belt light turned off she was up and checking in on us. I explained that Nora’s head had been hurting her but she didn’t want water and that she’d probably be asleep and feeling better soon. That didn’t satisfy her. She insisted Nora needed to drink to relieve pressure. She bent down in front of Nora and basically forced her to drink some water.
Two sips later and out came an explosion of throw up, basically right down on her lap but I’d be surprised if some didn’t get on the attendant. Nora felt 100 percent better. Clothes were changed. The blanket she spewed on was replaced. Not too many people even noticed. None of us had stomach trouble over the next week so I’m pretty sure it was motion related. I know I should feel sorry for the flight attendant who bore the brunt of the blow, but c’mon, she kind of deserved it for forcing my child to drink when she didn’t want to, don’t you think? You showed her, Nora.