Family Magazine

I Flew with a Toddler and Survived. Is There a T-shirt for That?

By Guerrillamom @mariaguido
Remember how Charlie Brown would occasionally have a dark cloud floating over his head, following him around where ever he went?  That was me yesterday.  Or maybe it was my son.  Not sure which.  When you are constantly holding a little person, it's hard to tell which one of you the shitty luck is befalling.
Yesterday was the dreaded first solo flight with toddler.  He’s been on plenty of flights, but his father has always been with us.  It’s always nice to approach these situations in pairs.  But this time we were travelling alone.  I kind of felt like we needed to take one more flight while his little body still flies free.  He is going to be two in November, so travelling as a family is about to get really expensive.
We’re getting ready to leave the house, and I am scanning all of the crap that I am responsible for Sherpa-ing around.  Cars eat – check.  Luggage – check.  Diaper bag – check.  Purse – check.  Stroller – check.  Oh, and toddler.  Can’t forget him. How in the hell am I going to do this alone?  I push the impossibility of the situation out of my mind, and my husband helps us to the taxi.
We load up, wave goodbye and I sit back and try to convince Lucien through some repetitive mantra I’ve made up that we are about to have an amazing day!  All of a sudden, I realize that the air that I am breathing is thick with the smell of something floral, yet disgusting.  All of the windows in the car are open – so the fact that this smell is persevering is pretty amazing. 
I look to the rearview mirror and see three of those Christmas tree-shaped air fresheners.  Then I look down to the pocket of the rear door, and begin to count. Eleven.  There are eleven more in my car door.  I glance across the back seat, and to my horror, there are eight more on Lucien’s side.  What in the name of everything holy is this lady doing?  Trying to suffocate us with the smell of baby powder and lilac?  I start to feel really queasy.
I text my sister.  Just counted 22 air fresheners in this car.  I’m gonna puke.  I like to keep her updated with all the banal goings on of my day.  I look at Lucien to see how he’s handling this.  He looks, sleepy – but okay.  About 30 seconds later, he starts screaming.  I’m looking at him trying to figure out what the hell is going on, when all of a sudden vomit is shooting out of his mouth and nose.  He is covered in it, as is his car seat.  We’ve got another 20 minutes at least until we get to the airport.  I try to mention something about the air fresheners and how disgusting they are to the driver, but she doesn’t understand a word I’m saying.  Deep breaths.
We finally get to the airport.  I unload all of our stuff and start changing Lucien’s clothes right on the curb.  He is soaked in puke, and I just have to get them off of him.  We head into the airport and pass through security and on to our gate with no major problems.  We board the plane, and I’m feeling optimistic that the worst of it must be over.  I’ve got his bottle -  if this flight is anything like the ones in our past, he will drink it while we are taking off and be asleep for the majority of the flight.
Mommy mistake number one happens when I remove the bottle from my bag before take off and he sees it.  Now he wants it, and we haven’t even started taxiing yet. I’m hoping he drinks it slowly. 
He doesn’t.
Now he’s empty handed, tired, and pissed that I am holding him in place.  We begin to taxi.  He begins to scream.  I didn’t even know this noise could come out of my child.  He’s also thrashing his arms wildly. The people around me have begun to express their annoyance.  Oh great.  This is gonna be a looooong flight.  I resist the urge to scream, You think this is going to be a long flight for you?  I’m responsible for demon child’s exorcism!  Have a shot and put your headphones on, jerks! Instead of doing that, I decide to apologize profusely (and disingenuously) and resume trying to calm the beast beautiful child that I gave birth to and love immensely.
The flight attendants are now doing everything in their power to help me, and thus help the rest of the passengers from hearing this howling banshee poor, frustrated, child any longer.  They are amazing.  I don’t know what I would have done without them.  One of them hands me a second bottle.  I give it to Lucien even though I know he doesn’t need it.  He takes it and falls asleep. 
Oh, thank Jesus.  I look down at the sleeping angel in my arms.  A few minutes go by, and I feel something.  I realize that I have given Lucien two bottles in the last half hour.  He has peed all over me.  Whatever - I’m already covered in vomit, so who really cares?  I let him sleep and decide to deal with it when he wakes up.
He wakes up in a great mood.  I’m not being facetious - he actually is in a really good mood.  Thank god.  We head to the bathroom to change him.  He refuses to lie down on the creepy changing table, so I have to change him standing up.  As soon as I remove the soaked diaper, he pees all over my shirt and his new, clean diaper.  So we head back to our seat, get another diaper, and return to the bathroom for take two.  Diaper is successfully on.  I am now successfully covered in vomit and urine.
We emerge from the bathroom, and the flight attendant stops me and says, I am so sorry.  I just spilled an entire Sprite on your seat.  Your sweater and your baby’s stuffed animal are soaked.  Apparently she’s expecting me to freak out, because the look on her face is of sheer horror.  I say,  I am covered from head to toe in piss and puke.  Sprite is actually a welcome addition to this.  It’s fine.   We land.  I wrap my soaked sweater around my waist, hoist my vomit and pee stained offspring onto my waist and head to freedom.
I turn my phone on when we get into the airport.  The first message that pops up is titled "Anderson Cooper Show."  What?   It's from one of my editors at an online magazine I've been contributing to. It reads:
Hi Maria,I have been invited to attend  a live Anderson Cooper show segment about different parenting styles... I'd like you to attend with me in light of your recent piece that did so well.  The taping is at noon tomorrow.  Would you be available to attend?  Please let me know ASAP.
I never leave New York.   Ever.  I never go anywhere.  I now cannot believe that I have gotten on a plane - today of all days - flown into piss and puke, and away from this opportunity.  Deep sigh.
The moral of this long winded story is this:  So what?  So what if I was covered in piss and puke?  So what if everyone on the flight wanted to slay me and my child?  The rain cloud never wins if you can keep your sense of humor. All of these little annoyances came to an end eventually.  Everything is impermanent.  
Yes, I am dreading the flight home - but that, too, will pass. Right?

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