Flying solo

            When my husband’s grandmother turned 90, she knew exactly how she wanted to mark the occasion.  We all flew to her favorite vacation destination to have a party.  In other words, we went to Vegas.  The weekend was evidence enough that my husband’s grandmother is eight times cooler than I can ever hope to be, because I hated Vegas.  I found it completely depressing.  It was about money, simulacra, and despair.  If all of Vegas one night disappeared back into the desert from which it came, it would not bother me one bit (assuming all the, you know, people got out OK.)

            Fortunately, five years later, my grandmother-in-law seems to be mellowing to the level appropriate for, say, a 70 year old.  She is one cool cat, not to mention a very classy lady, so I would be willing to go wherever she wanted for her birthday.  But, perhaps the four great-grandchildren or her relocation to be near her daughter have led her to opt for a party in Washington, D.C., a place that, come to think of it, for the past seven years, has been almost as depressing as Vegas.

            This means that on Thursday, I will be flying out with the boys to D.C.  The party isn’t until the following weekend, but we are not schlepping them across country for only a few days.  Plus, it is a chance for them to spend time with their grandparents in D.C. and their cousins nearby.  Since I won’t be traveling east for some time to come, it means I get to visit with a friend up in Boston, as well.

            These are all good things.  Unfortunately, there is one complicating factor.  J does not get unlimited vacation time.  So, he will not be flying out till the following week.  In case you have not recently flown the entire breadth of the United States, allow me to inform you that this is a five-hour flight.  Those of you who have extraordinary powers of deduction will have by this point figured out that on Thursday I will be taking a five-hour flight with an almost-two-year-old and a not-quite-four-year-old while I am definitely-five-months-pregnant. 

            J can get me to security; my mother-in-law can pick us up.  It is the six hours and 13 minutes in between those two points that I am a little concerned about.  So, if you happen to be flying LAX to IAD on Thursday and you see me in the boarding area before the flight, please consider one of the following options: A) entertaining one of my children for a few minutes while I pee; B) offering to help with my carry-on luggage consisting of forty-seven books and twelve trains; or C) drinking heavily so you don’t notice the chaos coming from our row.

            And, if you live somewhere between Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles (which means about 73% of you), should you head what sounds like desperate sobbing sometime on Thursday, look up.  That’s me flying over you.

25 responses to “Flying solo

  1. I’ve done the 6 hour flight with 2 kiddies a couple of times, my solutions: A personal DVD player with copious amounts of Bob the Builder or Backyardigans or whatever your boys like, make friends with the cabin crew, get there early, chat while you’re putting the kiddies into seats, be nice nice nice even if they’re asses, then they might watch the kids while you pee or change a nappy. Last ditch solution – don’t shoot me – benadryl, I know doping your kids isn’t cool but making them a little sleepy to get through an arduous journey makes it easier on everyone. Good luck, I’ll listen for sleeping babes and a happy Mummy over Boston.

  2. people were much more helpful this year compared to two years ago. I hope you find the same to be true & that you have a great time once you’re back on land.

  3. Can I suggest some doggy tranquilizers? 😉
    I’m sure it will all go very smoothly. Hopefully the kids will be so excited that they will become completely exhausted and clonk out the minute they sit on the plane. No? Well, we can dream, right?
    Good luck! And have a wonderful trip!

  4. Oh dear. Didn’t you just move from the UK to LA, thus necessitating a very long time in the air? 5 hours ain’t jack. You’ll be fine.


  5. Brave. Good wishes to you.

  6. when traveling by air I break my own mommy rules and offer everyone gum. I hope you find you have some good mommy tricks up your sleeve – and that you sit next to somebody whose heart over flows with compassion.

  7. Oh sweetie, I wish you luck. I dodged this bullet on our move. Hubby is coming with me and the 5-year-old on the flight out to LA. But I have a feeling the oldest is really going to want to do that flight this Christmas, and hopefully I will have 2 four-month old infants to bring along. Of course no hubby. I’m not sure I’ll be as brave as you.

    She must be one cool grandma!

  8. This is so funny! I’m just sitting here giggling.

    But seriously, you’ll be fine. There’s a thing about kids and planes that make them quiet. And when they’re not 100% quiet, the plane is loud enough to mask things. Really, I rarely see horrible kids on planes.

    The giving you chance to pee, part? That’s a little more tricky. Not gonna happen on the plane unless you REALLY trust the people you’re sitting with. But you can probably find some obscure bathroom in the airports with giant handicapped stalls.

    And don’t forget the porters and flight attendants. If you look really pitiful, they’re all over themselves to help! Play it up!

  9. My advice? If you have personal DVD players (even one would work, with 2 sets of headphones), take them. I f you don’t have them, borrow them.

    TV and/or movies have never served a higher purpose than to entertain small children on long flights.

  10. I actually found it was easier flying from Chicago to LA when I was the only adult. I knew i was in charge, the kids knew I was in charge, and I didn’t have another adult always thinking about things in a different way that necessitated discussions on our next move.

    But, the flying part….DVD player….bring one that holds its charge for 5 hours. They are a little more expensive, but worth every penny. I don’t really care if my kids are glued to a screen, if they are relatively quiet and are not climbing the walls of the plane, it is all good.

  11. Lollipops.

    Don’t know what your sugar rule is but little boys, airplanes, and lots of lollipops was a winning combination for us.

    GOOD LUCK. You will all get through it. You will.

  12. LMAO! This is great.

    I completely know the feeling. She must be SOME grandmother.

    I don’t think I’d fly with mine to see the second coming of Christ.

    Seriously. 🙂 (lol)

  13. oh, Emily, yikes. lol. good luck with all that, dude. I’m not even sure how I’ll manage flying from San Fran to London with Monkey in January and she’s just one little body so props to you.

  14. Oh, wow. That sounds like an exhausting trip ahead of you. I have only traveled with a toddler with another adult in attendance. I feel for you, and wish you the best possible circumstances.

    I hope that you get plenty of sleep before you fly. Things are always a bit easier to manage when you are well-rested. (And I’m close to certain you won’t be getting any rest on the flight. At least that’s been my experience when travelling with a toddler.)

    Oh, and give me a wave while you’re in Boston! Will you be taking the train up this way? Or some other mode of transportation?

  15. Oy! Jennifer H. has a good suggestion. I hope you find someone to help you out. I would, were I traveling when you were, having done the nursing baby/giant car seat/stupid stroller/toddler solo flight too many times myself. But you can’t drink for comfort, can you? (What? that’s not how I survived it, either.)

  16. Godspeed, Emily! Traveling with little ones is so difficult. Our last trip we preemptively apologized to those seated in front of us for all of the seat-kicking they were about to receive. And Tobin bought them drinks. (Not the kids, the people seated in front of us…) Good luck, friend.

  17. Poor thing! I can’t even imagine.

    Baby benedryl. Lots of it.

  18. I was freaked out before my first flight alone with the two boys. Thing is, when you are alone with two little ones nearly everyone wants to help you. It is fantastic. Being pregnant will get you even more sympathy (and extra snacks on the plane). I am sure the flight attendants will be willing to watch the kiddos so you can take a potty break.

    And I never worry about what people think about my kids’ behavior on the plane. If they know anything about kids, they will be forgiving. If they are mean, they aren’t people worth impressing anyway!

    You’ll make it, even if you need a 12 hour nap after you get there. At least you will have help once you land.

  19. A word of caution about Benedryl….it has the EXACT OPPOSITE effect on our youngest!! I didn’t dose him before a flight (thank God or he would have been like one of those cartoon characters that run so fast that they can literally run up walls), but he has horrible allergies. My Mommy Trick for flying solo with the boys is to individually wrap small trinckets. I know, I know, the evils of wrapping paper, but you can use the cartoon section of the newspaper. In any case, if the trip we were taking was 4 hours, I would have four “surprises” wrapped and waiting for each child. Part of the fun was reaching into Mommy’s Magical Backpack (without looking) and picking something. The items are small like a match box car, or baseball cards, or a coloring book.
    Good Luck, Emily!

  20. Portable DVD and extra batteries for it. If that’s the only thing you can carry, bring it.

  21. oh yes – and Benadryl backfrired on ours too. Definitely use the flight attendant for your own potty break. You should anyway, but the pregnant thing will only make it easier for you to get their sympathy and assistance.

  22. ah. yes. benedryl. i say go for the benedryl.

    good luck, sister. you’ll do just fine.

  23. Oh ow. Here’s hoping you find another lovely family in the airport on the same flight with whom you can bond. I remember years ago when we went to Corsica, there was a 7-hour flight delay. We let our son play his gameboy for the entire 7 hours, I’m afraid. Pickled his brain, ruined his eyesight, probably (although he’s the only one of us with perfect vision) but saved our sanity. I’m sure that’s the kind of story I shouldn’t tell!

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  25. i think when you have young children you can arrange to have someone (like J) help you to your gate. you may want to look into it