This is not to say that the ordeal was not without some hiccups. And by "hiccups" I mean, the knocking down of old ladies, the flailing in the aisle during landing, and confrontations with a TSA agent. But I'm sure those things happen to all of us.
Upon reflection, if it weren't for the plane, the layovers, and the TSA agents, our flying experience would have gone smooth as a baby's bottom!
On the plane
The plane itself wasn't too awful. I'd thought ahead and snagged my husband's iTouch so that, together with my iPhone, each of the boys could be sedated with Angry Birds and Toddler Shapes for the duration of the flight. Aside from the rare trip to the bathroom with a child--which required odd, awkward physical positioning and PLACING MY HEAD NEARLY INSIDE THE TOILET in order to get my kid on the seat--I was pleasantly surprised. A flight attendant even gave us extra cookies. And wings!
But then, during the last thirty minutes of the flight, and EVERY MOTHERLOVING FLIGHT thereafter, T9 would become instantly and fully disinterested in his games.
In fact, he wanted to take off his seatbelt!
And unlock his tray table!
And kick the seats!
And go to the bathroom!
And scream his little blonde head off!
I did my best to physically restrain him and discreetly threaten his life with my whisper-shouts, but nothing much helped. After a few minutes, a woman sitting in front of us and traveling with her teenaged son, turned around and eyeballed me through the cracks in the seats.
And that actually made me feel much better, because suddenly, I didn't give a shit how loud the boy screamed. "You know what? You just go ahead and cry it out munchkin."
Layovers that are too long
We had a layover in Atlanta, which no one told me would be the LARGEST AIRPORT EVER and DEFINITELY TAKE THE TRAM because NO, YOU CANNOT WALK IT.
So, after walking a half marathon carrying our suddenly VERY HEAVY carry-ons, I found the boys a place to sit near our gate. They needed some time to relax, eat some lunch, and browse the internet for child labor lawyers. I thought the extra time would be good so the boys could stretch their legs and the like. I just forgot that "stretching legs" means "run around like LUNATICS" to three and five year-olds.
By the time they announced boarding, my boys had formed an ultimate fighting ring near the ticketing counter. People walked by to either cheer them on, cast me evil glances, or silently pray that they'd not be seated next to that wretched family.
As we boarded the plane, the boys were greeted by strangers who'd recognized them from their epic wrestling match. Or recognize me as the mother who was clearly in over her head and NOT HANDLING THINGS WELL.
We were actually on our way back from NY when this particular incident occurred. After a tearful goodbye with Grandma and Pop-Pop, we squeezed ourselves into the security line at the White Plains airport. I juggled the children from straying out of line and into DO NOT ENTER doorways while peeling off our collective pack backs and placing things into bins. It's not like it was super challenging or overwhelmingly taxing on my nerves, but if someone gave me a Nobel Peace Prize for it, I wouldn't be surprised.
Anyway, one of the boys had a sippy cup of water and I had to stick that through the Xray machine as well. But as placed the final item into a bin and began my epic sigh of relief that the children hadn't crawled into the machine, a TSA agent walked toward me and started UNDOING ALL THAT I'D WORKED SO HARD TO ACCOMPLISH.
She barked, "YOU DON'T NEED TO USE THE BIN, MA'AM, IF THE BAG IS ZIPPED CLOSED."
I stared at her with all the contempt I could muster, "OH," I replied.
She went back to her spot on the other side of the Xray machine and waited for our items to pass through. We all walked through the metal detector and there was the TSA agent again. This time she was holding the sippy cup, explaining that it would need to be tested. "Ok, sure," I told her. No big thing. They did this at DFW and it was no sweat. Except, that the woman looked at me expectantly. "Wait, you need me to come?"
So she stood there, you know, WAITING, as I put the backpacks back on the children, rethreaded my belt, and gathered my laptop. An elderly couple was now passing through the metal detector, so I scooted my boys to the side so they could pass. T9 was entertaining himself by spinning in circles when the TSA woman again spoke at us.
"YOU NEED TO COME OVER HERE. FOCUS KID."
She told my THREE YEAR OLD to focus, you guys. Which apparently meant KNOCK DOWN THE OLD MAN AND HUSTLE OVER HERE BECAUSE THIS SIPPY CUP IS MIGHTY HEAVY.
Then? Our plane was delayed.
Layovers that are too short
What's worse than a layover long enough for your children to build a wrestling ring and build a following? Not much, probably, but RUNNING through the Atlanta airport with a three and five year old comes pretty close.
I was dragging a child by each hand, a purse on my arm, and an overstuffed backpack down the concourse with deranged swiftness. Naturally, there were no carts around on which to hitch a ride...not even a wheelchair to commendeer. In fact, as I fought back tears, there were only disinterested faces about me. I asked one worker, who was leaning on a broom handle, how to get to Concourse A and he told me to READ THE SIGNS.
I heard another woman let out a gasp and some sort of comment of pity. After that, it's kind of a blur. I think I may have been randomly shouting things along the way to keep it together:
YOU'RE GONNA GET RUN OVER SIR!
OMFG DELTA SUCKS!
"Sucks is a bad word, Mommy!"
THAT'S RIGHT...I MEANT TO SAY DELTA IS A HORRIBLE, HORRIBLE COMPANY! PLEASE REMEMBER THAT FOREVER CHILDREN.
WHY DOES NO ONE CARE THAT WE ARE SUFFERING SO?!
We made the connecting flight, I'll have you know. We were the last ones on the plane. Instead of the applause I'd been expecting, I was met with a disgruntled flight attendant and a curmudgeon of an old man.
Let's just say, I've never been happier to be back in Texas, people. Happy damn Thanksgiving.