Liquor sales typically go through the roof during the holiday season, with ninety percent of those sales made to parents just stepping off cross-country flights with toddlers in tow. True story. Mr. Candy and I took such a flight with our 17-month-old last week, making the trek from Los Angeles to the East Coast to visit family. Being pregnant and all, I tragically was unable to partake of any alcohol to ease the pain. So I did what any thoughtful, sober mother traveling with a nap-resistant toddler for six hours would do: Handed my crying child to my husband and jumped off the plane.
No! I kid! I couldn’t get the door open. But Mr. Candy and I did lose our minds, along with the only sippy cup we remembered to bring in the first place, as we entertained our fussy daughter within our box-like space — on a turbulent flight where virtually no walking was allowed (awesome!) — by coloring with her, reading to her, trying to get her to take a nap on our chests, playing Peek-A-Boo, watching Curious George, passing her back and forth, back and forth, back and forth, feeding her Cheerios, and peppering her with provocative questions, like where her nose is.
And that only took up the first fifteen minutes.
As far as the other five hours and forty-five minutes go, well, they’re kind of a blur. Somewhere in the haze, I seem to remember filling a good two hours with my grumbling, punctuated with an unsettling amount of all-caps and italics:
“I am not traveling with this kid again until she’s thirty!”
“I thought traveling at her naptime was supposed to HELP.”
“Why don’t people come to visit us next year?!”
“There is no WAY we’ll be able to fly with two kids.”
“I can’t BELIEVE they ran out of the fruit platter!”
“Okay. Who did that? Farting on planes is SO UNCOOL.”
Meanwhile, another couple sat behind us with their 16-month-old daughter, Bridget, who slept for THREE HOURS and woke up with a freakin’ smile on her face. Bridget’s diaper was probably full of glitter and diamonds, too.
“You see that?” I whispered in Skye’s ear, stroking her curls and nodding towards the angelic sight of the little girl napping in her mother’s arms. “If you don’t stop throwing yourself on the floor, I’m going to exchange you for that model.”
My threat (advocated by any esteemed child psychologist, I’m sure) seemed to do the trick because Skye was pretty well-behaved for the last hour or so. We played games and were generally loud and obnoxious — but we didn’t care. Our exhausted child was laughing. Not crying. Which was all that us weary parents cared about at this point. However, when I noticed the man sitting next to us glancing over at the three of us, I did experience a pang of pity for him. I remember the days of getting stuck sitting next to loud, obnoxious families on long flights. And it was NOT fun.
Our eyes met. Uh-oh.
“I just want to tell you guys –” the man said, leaning over.
Oh boy. Here it comes, I thought.
“My wife’s nine months pregnant, and I’m a thousand times more excited to meet my little girl after seeing your family.”
Wow. Sweet, right? But I couldn’t believe that, after six hours of observing our parental misery, that was his reaction. Then I looked over at Skye, belly-laughing with a blanket on her head even after traveling five-thousand miles with no sleep, and I realized he was right. Fruit platter debacle notwithstanding, we are pretty damn lucky. And for our flight back to L.A., maybe I’ll simply have to partake of that alcohol after all — by putting just a splash of it in Skye’s new sippy cup.
Hey, you KNOW that’s what Bridget’s parents did. Hmpf.