My kid travels well.
Except when he doesn’t.
What I mean is, he’s either really good or he really isn’t. He’s either totally conked out for hours or he’s a big ball of teething misery who refuses to take even the tiniest of cat naps.
The flight to Ohio was a dream. Well, as much of a dream as a cross-country trip with a 6-month-old and a layover can be. It was a red-eye, so it was late and dark and he slept most of the way. He woke up for about the last hour of the second flight and started to get a little antsy, but he was fairly easily entertained with Sophie the Giraffe and some lovely singing by Master Songwriter Mom.
The way back? Not as dream-like.
He’d been kind of out of sorts throughout the whole trip, but he really started getting fussy in the Cleveland airport as we waited for our plane. He became an overtired, cranky, drooling mess who began furiously gnawing on everything he could get his hands on. Being the incredibly smart parents that we are, we finally said, Huh, maybe he’s teething?
So, we paced around in front of the gate, taking turns bouncing Ryan and staring at each other with wide eyes that silently asked Is he going to calm down? One doesn’t dare say those words out loud for fear of jinxing the entire trip.
We were those people. The people with the fussy baby that you spot at your gate and you think Oh, GREAT. I’m a plane with the whiny kid. Wonderful! THIS will be fun.
After much bouncing and shhhhing, we finally got him nearing drowsy right as we got called to board. It’s not easy to carry/bounce/soothe a baby while you’re also boarding a plane and gate-checking a stroller. That’s not to say we didn’t try, but we weren’t very successful.
We climbed onto our tiny little plane – the kind with only two seats on each side – (how do those things even get up into the air?) – and struggled to keep Ryan from getting worked up again. The flight attendant came strolling down the aisle with a pen and pad in hand. She glanced robotically from row to row, writing nothing until she spotted us. One look our way and she furiously scribbled on her pad before continuing down the aisle.
Mike: “Uh, I think we’re on their list…”
Me: “… of the best things in life?”
And thus began the first leg of the trip. Two hours of what I fondly refer to as “Hell on a toy plane.”
Want to guess what is the absolute ONLY thing that calmed Ryan down during this flight? Sophie running up and down his legs while Mom narrated and/or sang.
At first, the songs were cute.
La di da di da… Running up Ryan’s right leg! It’s oh-so-fun! Running back down Ryan’s left leg … la la LA!
But that only lasts for about 20 seconds. Then what do you sing? How about:
Running up Ryan’s right leg… and running out of words to this song… la di da! This is sort of a stupid toy… and I’m so sick of being on this darned plane… la la LA!
Rinse and repeat. For an hour and 45 minutes. Sure, you can try to take out another toy. You can try to pass him off to Dad. But he is teething and miserable and he DOESN’T WANT THAT, DANG IT. He wants to sit on your lap and watch Sophie run up and down his legs, melodically narrating life around him. Is that too much to ask?
I could go on and on about the trip home, but here are the highlights:
* Ryan doesn’t like to sleep in his stroller on a four-hour layover, even if we recline the seat and pad it beautifully with blankets. He’s not stupid: it’s not the same as a crib.
* I spent much of my layover on the phone with Chase canceling a credit card, thanks to a fraud alert email I received while waiting to board the second flight. No, I did not buy $122 worth of merchandise from SpeedoUSA. Trust me.
* We were surrounded – and I do mean totally and completely surrounded – by kids of all ages on the second flight. And when they got on, I thought, Oh, GREAT. This will be fun!” But their shrieking didn’t prevent Ryan from miraculously conking out on Mike’s lap for three glorious hours, which was long enough for us to watch The King’s Speech and to start to think our kid is cute again.
The best part? We get to do this all again in less than three months! Ah, the joys of living 2,000 miles from every single living relative. Maybe this is a good time to ask for advice re: traveling with a 9-month-old?