Traveling with kids is the hardest thing in the world. Don't listen to me if I tell you otherwise. I never realized how easy I had it when all I had to do was worry about getting myself to the fight on time, and what I brought with me to read. With kids, it is a constant crapshoot for what you are going to get. It could be an easy ride, after which you say, 'wow, that wasn't so bad', and you almost forget about the other times when it is difficult. Other times, your child is awakened during every nap, you forget the milk, you go through each diaper, and you are banging your head against the seat in front of you by the time the whole thing is through. Or maybe in need of a strong drink. Or three.
The anxiety of not knowing what you are going to get is the worst part. Dreading the ten hour flight or the overnight trip or the five hour car ride. Having a strong arsenal of supplies is half the battle. Sheer luck is the other half.
When your child is crying and unsympathetic people around you are glaring, and you are turning red-faced as you try to appease, nothing is good, and you can't get out of that situation and off the plane fast enough. Nursery rhymes, rocking, even playing with your iPhone...bribes, snacks, new toys, any method is employed to try to get through a long flight. Planes have a higher probability of hellishness because there is so very little room to move. You stand in the aisles, you get bumped. You stand in galleys, you are likely to get chastised by crabby flght attendants. You try to go into the bathroom but the lights are too bright for sleep. You try in your chair but the baby kicks the seat in front of you and squirms onto the floor. If you are lucky, you may have one of those children that can fall asleep half-standing in the middle of a football game. Most of us have children who sleep best like we do... In quiet, cool, dark rooms without hordes of strangers around. For them, as for us, sleeping on a plane is near impossible without medical help.
This last one was a doozy. Direct from Newark, New Jersey to Honolulu, eleven hours; which at first I thought was a great plan, and since have started to regress such notions of any 'better way to go'. I now know flying from the east coast to Hawai'i is torture, regardless of how many flights it takes.
The particulars of this flight started with a packed flight leaving Newark, one that we happened to board nearly last, as it took forever to get through the terminal and to the gate. Even though we arrived at the airport over 90 minutes early, we still got to the plane as all rows were boarding. No time for diaper changes and water runs, and it was rush, rush, rush. Between all the elevators and trams in Newark, I told my husband I felt like the flight should be nearly over before we even left, I was so exhausted. Usually I try my hardest to plan for a good nap before a travel day. I find it is the best predictor of success...well, that and an empty flight, which is rare and totally unpredictable. This morning the nap was not good, a foreboding detail.
We get on the plane and get settled in with ourr eight carry-ons, including a car seat, diaper bag, cooler bag, two coats, backpack, rolling bag, bear. Since Bodhi had a miserable first nap for only about forty five minutes in the car, he was whiny and fidgety from the start. As soon as we got up to altitude, we were hoping he would fall asleep. We bought him an honorary third seat on the plane for this purpose...so he could fall asleep in his car seat as he usually does. No problem, right? Wrong. After an hour, it was clear it wasn't going to work out, so we were back to standing in the galley with him over our shoulders whisking him to sleep. Of course, right about the time we finally get him to sleep, the baby across from us decides to wake up and starts chatting and shrieking. Game over. We try for a few minutes to keep him asleep but it is of no use. He pops open his eyes and yells, 'uppa!' The second nap goes in about the same manner and I find myself staring at the computer screen with the airplane trajectory on it, willing us to go faster and get there. During the four hours between naps, Bodhi managed to burn through all three of his outfits. One was peed through. The second was also soaked, after he tried to grab Chris's ice water and ceremoniously dumped it straight on his face. Imagine a baby being doused with a full glass of ice water. Didn't feel good. And he sure let us know about it. I stripped him down to his diaper in about three seconds as if I was practicing for a class in hypothermia first aid. The third was partially soaked by the wet car seat from the pee incident and the ice water, but also got food all over it. But it will have to do for the remaining three hours.
Luckily I brought an entire carryon of diapers so we aren't going to go through all of those. We had that happen on a previous flight and I wasn't going to let that happen this time. I also thought to bring the entire jar of toddler formula instead of the bottles of milk I usually bring. Good thing because we have already burned through four bottles and the night is still young. We make it to Honolulu, and then while buying dinner and getting from terminal to terminal, somehow we miss our connecting interisland flight to Kona. And it is the last one of the night. Good things I brought those diapers and formula, because we have another overnight here. We don't have his travel crib, and we don't have anymore clothes, but what we do have will have to do. By the time we check-in at our airport Best Western, it is 3AM East Coast time and we are all more than ready for a night of sleep. Goodnight.