As it turns out, all my worrying last week about how my toddler would deal with a flight from Georgia to Missouri definitely was not for nothing. In fact, probably the only thing that would have made the journey worse would’ve been a plane crash. And, sadly, it was my own meticulous planning that did me in.
We got off to a terrible start. After having been awakened at 5 a.m. for our 7 a.m. flight, Reese was not in a good mood to begin with. We boarded the plane with little fanfare, but as soon as we found our seats, my daughter started acting like, well, a toddler. She didn’t want to sit still or be quiet. No big surprise there, though. I let her look out the window, which diffused the situation for approximately four seconds. I offered her a snack, but she declined, which I halfway expected since she’d recently eaten breakfast. I fired up the cartoons I had downloaded to my phone, but she showed no interest.
Right about the time I started to panic, the captain came over the intercom and announced that the flight would be delayed due to fog. He calmly and optimistically told the passengers that if we’d just “sit tight” for another 30-45 minutes, the weather likely would improve and we’d be on our way to Atlanta, where Reese and I were supposed to catch our connecting flight to St. Louis. Thirty to 45 minutes in antsy toddler time might as well be 30-45 hours.
I began softly singing “Old McDonald Had a Farm” and “The Itsy Bitsy Spider” to Reese, and that amused her long enough for the plane to get off the ground. Once we were en route, however, boredom struck again.
I’d been clueless enough to wear a beaded bracelet on my right wrist. Like a lightning bolt, Reese reached out, grabbed it and yanked. Of course, the bracelet broke, sending a cascade of small turquoise beads bouncing all over the floor of the plane. I bent down and began to gather them, glancing up occasionally to make sure my little hellion wasn’t causing any more trouble. That’s when she smiled at me, picked up a bead and popped it in her mouth.
“No!” I told her as I squeezed her mouth open and fished out the broken jewelry. She didn’t like that one bit and began to scream.
I distracted her with a small box of yogurt-covered raisins, which she made it halfway through before the plane landed at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. Because of the delay in Savannah, we had about 30 minutes to catch our connecting flight to St. Louis, which was due to take off two concourses away from where we landed. I may have mowed down a few innocent bystanders with the stroller, but we made it with about two seconds to spare.
By the time we sat down, Reese was a disgruntled, hungry bundle of agitated shrieks. I realized it was nearly lunch time, so I gave her the rest of the raisins, some Pepperidge Farm goldfish and a couple Gerber puffs. She asked for a drink, so I handed her my bottle of water and watched as she gulped down half of it. It dawned on me how thirsty she must have been, and I felt a twinge of guilt that I hadn’t offered her a drink sooner. That twinge didn’t last long, though.
Not two minutes later, as Reese stood on her seat and looked out the plane window, she was struck with a bout of airsickness. Yes, babies can get airsick, and it is not pretty. Nor does it smell good. Trying hard to ignore the sighs and grumblings of other passengers, I did my best to mop up the large mess with tiny cocktail napkins.
By the time we landed, my traveling companion and I both needed baths and naps. Thankfully, once we made it to my parents’ house, my mom was happy to clean up Reese while I threw our “soggy” clothes in the wash.
The flights back to Savannah weren’t quite as dramatic — I think it helped that I knew what to expect — but air travel with a toddler still is not something I plan to do again anytime soon.