Call out the epic poets to ply their craft, contract a bard to sing of my merits, light the ceremonial fires high on the hill, for I have flown with my children.
Not with my own wings, which would really be an achievement to be heralded. No, I simply flew on a plane, long distance, across sea and land, as the lone adult in charge of two kids. Before I did it, I kept trying to fish for awed recognition of the major task I was about to undertake, but I kept mentioning it to people who had flown alone from Buenos Aires to Moscow with triplet infants with stomach flu. Not a lot of sympathy, in other words.
And now, having flown from Spain to California and back to visit family I realize it really isn’t such a big deal. Anyone going into a flight these days should be expecting the worst, so if it isn’t completely horrible, you’re ahead. After all, our luggage was only missing for a day, and the “customer service” person we called about it wasn’t completely snippy, and that man at the check-in counter on the way back wasn’t actively rude. And we did manage to wade through immigration and luggage and customs and more luggage “lines” and hit a bathroom and change terminals using the bus that almost never came and still make the next flight, barely, but close enough counts in this case. And not every flight had someone like the gentleman in front of us who kept his seat all the way back during the entire flight because, hey, he’s entitled to every cubic inch he can take. And we only had one bottle of water that I had forgotten about thrown out by security and the TSA guy who was auditioning for a stand-up slot in “Adolf’s Authoritarian Comedy Club” could be carefully negotiated.
So the trip was fine, and next time I won’t make such a big deal of flying alone with the kids. (Not to mention it’s not really attractive to complain about going on vacation.) Compare it with, say, climbing Mount Everest without oxygen. Not a big deal. Of course, other people do tend to make it one. Despite the large variety of annoyances from all classes of people (see seatback aggressor, above), kids get singled out as a special transgressor class. Yes, they can be annoying, but who among the people you encounter on a plane trip, on the ground or in the air, can you be sure won’t be?
I have no special survivor techniques for flying with kids. Some parents tout the sleep-inducing qualities of Benadryl, but 1) it can have the reverse side effect and make kids especially hyped up, and 2) drugging my children just so they don’t possibly disturb some other airline passenger seems…a bit much. If you really want to drug someone, I’d suggest tranquilizing darts for the other passengers, but you probably wouldn’t be able to get those past security. If you do Tai Chi or meditate or something and have strong mental control, you can follow a suggestion I got one time and think of the trip as a chance for quality time with your kids.
Really our family’s only drug of choice for children is a portable DVD player, but that brings up battery issues – and if airlines can’t give us all individual seatback video, couldn’t they at least give us places to plug in? This player sounds like it could help solve those issues if you want to spend the big bucks. Portable game players are supposed to be a good narcotic too, for as long as those batteries last. We haven’t let the kids get hooked on those yet, but I have a feeling we won’t be able to put it off much longer.
Still, my best strategy is to go in with rock-bottom expectations and reminding myself it’s just not that big a deal to fly with kids. Well, maybe for that guy who had his seat leaned all the way back and kept getting it kicked, er, accidentally, but I’m not absolutely sure a kid is to blame for that one.