If you missed Part 1 and feel like catching up, here it is.
To recap why air travel falls under my list of “What Not to Do with a Toddler”:
1) Toddlers require even more stuff than babies.
2) Air passengers seem to be a particular breed of mean and unhelpful.
3) Toddlers are tiny bundles of energy that must be allowed to exit their seats several times over the course of a 10-hour flight or they might literally explode. And, the diapers.
4) Toddlers have the attention span of a gnat.
I believe when I left off last, I was struggling to get Elisabeth to go to sleep. Which brings me to reasons 5 and 6 to avoid flying with toddlers:
5) Toddlers are little rebels.
That fasten seat belt sign means nothing to the little rascals! It was bedtime. The fasten seat belt sign lit up. Elisabeth pooped. Rebel, I say! I was thus forced to defy the sign and venture to the rear lavatory in order to change her diaper and put on her PJs. When I exited, another mom traveling by herself – with TWO kids, bless her heart – was waiting. Naturally, I offered to hold her baby so she could assist her older child in the bathroom. (SEE PEOPLE – IT’S NOT THAT HARD TO HELP!) She then held Elisabeth so I could use the restroom, and I then watched both her girls while she took a turn. It was all Kumbaya in the airplane bathrooms until a second fake-nice flight attendant showed up.
“You really should return to your seats. Should something happen…”
Do you think I’m standing back here for fun?
I nodded in acknowledgement and then ignored her. Like I was going to ditch the one-year old in my arms and her five-year old sister. As soon as the other mother was done in the restroom, we all promptly returned to our seats. And then the battle to get Elisabeth to go to sleep began. And so, #6…
6) When faced with the choice to repeatedly slither out of their (way too big) seat belt, sink onto the floor, and then play possum on the ground OR calmly go to sleep, toddlers will choose the former. Every. Single. Time.
Guess what? Elisabeth didn’t want to go to sleep. She didn’t want to be strapped into her seat belt. As it turns out, she could easily escape her seat belt. That stupid seat belt did nothing for her! So Elisabeth took up residence on the airplane floor, and I gave up. Seat belt sign be damned!
Well, I gave up for about a minute until I thought about how nasty that airplane floor was, and then I took my overtired child and stuck her back in the Ergo carrier. This may shock you, but she didn’t want to be in the carrier, either. At least, she didn’t want to be in the carrier while I was seated. By the grace of God, the pilot turned off the fasten seat belt sign and I walked and swayed and jiggled while Elisabeth settled down. But then he illuminated that seat belt sign again! So I sat down, much to Elisabeth’s chagrin. We repeated the get-up, sit-down dance a few times but the kid would not sleep. In an act of desperation I reached out to the fake-nice flight attendant #1.
“Maybe if we tried the car seat facing the other direction it would fit better?” I pleaded.
“Well, if you’d like to try the car seat is in the overhead compartment bin above seat 36,” she responded. “But I don’t think it’s going to work.”
Soooo, you’re saying you’re not going to help me? You do see this small human attached to my body, right?
I went to seat 36 and reeeeeeached to open the overhead compartment, all the while assaulting the poor man in the aisle with my toddler. I then yanked and tugged and pulled but the car seat wouldn’t budge. I glanced around hoping to find some kind soul without a small human attached to their body to help.
Anyone? Anyone? No one.
I gave up and continued pacing, all the while holding back tears. I was so tired. And Elisabeth was all of a sudden so heavy. When did that child get so heavy?! After much pacing but still no sleeping, I tried to get the car seat again. Mustering all my strength I wrenched the seat from the overhead bin and took it back to my row. Guess what? It didn’t fit the opposite direction. Deep down, I knew that would happen. And once again on the verge of tears – so tired! – I somehow managed to return it to the overhead bin. And then I despaired for humanity. Because if not one single person on an entire airbus is willing to help a spazzy mom traveling by herself, we are doomed.*
At some point Elisabeth fell asleep and I sank into my seat. I even managed to ease her out of the carrier and lay her across her own chair, with the too big seat belt strapped over her little belly. She slept for one blissful hour. For the next three or four hours she tossed and turned and went back and forth between the carrier and the chair until she realized the sun was peeking through the window shades and decided she must get up! She played and ate and spilled and watched mindless cartoons and it wasn’t fun but it wasn’t horrible. But for…
#7) Flying with a Toddler will turn you mean like the rest of the passengers.
The time came to land and I had Elisabeth strapped in on my lap, knowing she wouldn’t stay buckled in her own seat.
Enter fake-nice flight attendant #1
“We really don’t advise she sit like that. Should something happen…”
“What do you advise?” I snapped. Whoops.
Without missing a beat, the flight attendant replied, “That she sit buckled in her own seat.” So not helpful. (I’d like to mention here that if you are flying with a baby or toddler, airlines do provide infant seat belts that attach to your seat belt so that the child can be buckled safely while on your lap. For some reason, this flight attendant did not offer that to me, and in my rage I didn’t think to ask.)
I had so many words I wanted to say to that flight attendant right then and there, but as I did not want to be arrested upon landing, I glared at her until she retreated and began trying to get Elisabeth situated in her seat. It was a struggle, but after much shrieking (Elisabeth) and exasperated sighing (me), I eventually strapped Elisabeth down and we landed. And it was over.
A week later we were on another flight, this time from Orange County to Sacramento. This flight was only an hour – amateur stuff. Except it wasn’t. Because be a flight one hour or ten, when flying with a toddler it will always feel like forever.
If you absolutely must fly with toddler, remember this: It will always end. It may feel interminable, but at some point that plane will land and you will be put out of your misery. So power through and if you’re flying internationally, take advantage of the free booze.
*I suppose the other spazzy mom helped me out. We are not entirely doomed.Read More