My daughter Reese recently breezed through her first air-travel experience when she and I went to visit family in St. Louis.
Initially, I had some concerns. I’d heard horror stories about a family being instructed to deplane an aircraft when two parents couldn’t get their crying baby to calm down. I also worried that my little one’s ears might not tolerate the elevation changes well.
Fearing my fellow passengers and I might be in for a few hours of fussiness, I bought a huge bag of candy and planned to pass out pieces in an attempt to get in other travelers’ good graces before they could become irritated.
As it turns out, my fears were for naught. My daughter slept most of the time, ate some of the time and sat quietly when she wasn’t snoozing or snacking.
I think our positive experience is due partly to the fact that my sweet girl is just an extraordinarily laid-back, good-natured baby, but I’d also like to take some of the credit. After all, a great deal of planning went into the trip.
I purposefully chose a flight that was during Reese’s usual nap time. I packed two full bottles of milk and fed them to her during takeoff and landing to keep her swallowing so that her ears would pop as the air pressure changed. And I used a clip to attach her pacifier to the front of her shirt so we’d be sure not to lose it in a crowded airport.
It’s a good thing I was so prepared and Reese was so well-behaved because I ended up forgetting that huge bag of candy at home, and my husband ate the whole thing while we were gone.
And despite the fact that I let my imagination get the best of me before the trip — I conjured images of irate air travelers shooting me death glares and sighing loudly while rolling their eyes at each other — I was pleasantly surprised by how helpful the other passengers and airline employees were.
On our first flight, the attendant came right over to me and offered to hold the baby at any time if I needed to get up or take a break.
While marching through the Atlanta airport with Reese strapped to the front of me in her carrier, several harried travelers moved to the side and allowed me to pass or held doors for us.
On our return flight, the gentleman sitting next to me offered his travel pillow when he saw me trying to maneuver my sleeping baby into a comfortable position with only the airplane’s woefully inadequate armrests for support. This kind stranger, who was heading to Savannah on business, told me he has a 2-year-old daughter.
I suppose the whole experience just goes to show that there’s no point in worrying about things that might never happen. I guess I should have worried about that huge bag of candy disappearing in my absence, because I sure never saw that coming.
Hollie Moore Barnidge is the managing editor of the Coastal Courier in Hinesville.