A couple of weeks ago, I took my fidgety, motion-sickness-prone daughter on her first vacation involving airplanes.
I might have over thought my strategy for the trip. We were headed to Colorado to visit my mother-in-law for the weekend, and the flight was about 4 hours. So I stuffed four hours worth of entertainment into my carry on. Totally unnecessary. She slept through most of the flights and didn’t use any of activity books I bought.
Even though my daughter is under two years old, and could have ridden on my lap for free, I decided to get her own seat. More expensive, sure, (we also decided to splurge and sit in the front row of the airplane) but I have no idea how I would have been able to keep her in my lap. My daughter enjoyed having her own space and siting like “the big people” in a chair. I also made the decision to check her carseat with our other baggage and not have her sit in it on the plane. I know the FAA recommends carseats and blah blah blah but the idea of trying to install and then uninstall a bulky toddler carseat while also wrangling a toddler on an airplane full of people annoyed that you’re blocking the cabin corridor is nightmarish and panic attack inducing. Seriously, if the plane crashed, the carseat wouldn’t have done anything. I suppose you could make an argument over turbulence, but I’m glad I ditched the carseat.
Since my daughter gets carsick, I (correctly) assumed she would get airplane sick too. Toddlers are sneaky. She seemed all done throwing up in the barf bag, so I took it away. Then she stood up and threw up on a bag on the lap of the person behind her. This left me with an ethical dilemma. The person behind her was asleep and stayed asleep after the throw up. What do you do in that situation? Let the poor guy sleep or wake him up with a “pardon me sir but it seems my child blew chunks on your nice leather attaché”? I tried cleaning up with him asleep the best I could, but apparently I missed some because when he woke up he informed me that my daughter had blown chunks on his nice leather attaché. Good thing I brought wet naps. Bring lots and lots of wet naps. Ditch the crayons and the activity books and just stuff your carry on with wet naps.
The worst part of flying with a toddler has got to be check in and security at the airport. The biggest mistake I made was the boutique regional airline I picked. That “whole different animal” needs some home training. They had multiple lines feeding to only one person and they just let the people in line duke it out for who went next instead having a system. This made me uncomfortable, as we were in a red state that had a special line for flyers carrying automatic firearms and, aside from a projectile spewing toddler, I was unarmed and not about to duke it out with a large and self-righteous family of people with Sarah Palin accents.
I’m pretty sure I’m the reason people from flyover states hate New Yorkers.
As for the TSA, they took my daughter’s bottle from her and tested it. I totally understand that, except for the fact that I also had test tubes full of green liquid that nobody seemed to care about. They were these appletini shots (don’t judge, I have flight anxiety and a toddler) in test-tube-shaped containers. So as far as terrorism goes, milk is suspicious and green-chemical-looking stuff in test tubes is cool. Take that, Al Qaeda!
At least the TSA gave my daughter a “junior officer” TSA badge sticker.
Rachel Figueroa-Levin is a soapmaker, cofounder and educator at Urban Babywearing, a hyperlocal Inwood blogger and organizer, a political/life/religion/parenting satirist, and all around trouble maker. She is also the creator New York City’s Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Spanish-speaking alter ego @elbloombito. You can reach her via twitter @Jewyorican.