Friday, May 4, 2012

Air Travel with Little Kid(s)


Once upon a time, I was a live in nanny. The first time in my life I got on a plane was when I departed Slovakia (well, Vienna airport, to be precise) to make my way to nothing less fancy than New York City (well, Long Island, to be precise, which turned out to be a bit less fancy than expected) to take care of the kids of a fairly wealthy family. The flight was both exciting and dreadfully boring and in the next many years in which the number of plane rides increased exponentially, I learned that my first hunch proved to be so very true for all of the following trips - I am not a fan of flying, but I just have to suck it up. I don't feel comfortable floating up in the air that is basically nothingness, or as close to it as you can get, in a metal monstrosity that somehow not only manages to get up there, but to stay there for quite a while, despite all the logic, at least the one in my head, where there is an apparent conflict in the matter. There is, of course, the discomfort of being stuck in a tiny seat next to an obnoxious chatty passenger and - gasp - the little kids.

I always thought that little kids were cute and annoying. I was raised to be too polite to ever complain about anything, so for years and years I kept impressing family members as well as complete strangers with my ability to bond with children immediately and becoming their beacon of light in the darkness of the adult world. Once you have that reputation it is impossible to get rid of. It turned out to be somewhat helpful in order to convince the already mentioned Long Island family to hire me as their live in nanny with close to a zero relevant experience (which they may had not been quite aware of at the time). Anyways, as usually, if you don't do something sincerely it is going to catch up with you sooner or later. Don't take me wrong, I lived up to the expectations and (I am proud to say) proved to be a kick ass nanny to two different families. However, I do look at this period of my life as the time where I completely lost my mind to think that there was anything clever about the whole idea.

I remember going to Dunkin Donuts towards the end of my nanny career, looking at the screaming kids running around the store and thinking that I have not felt so disgusted even when getting over my arachnophobia and placing a fuzzy red hair tarantula on the palm of my hand. I went for a vacation to Florida at the time and on the flight back, I was seated next to a mother with a two year old toddler that would not shut up for 5 seconds and all I could do was screaming silently in my head that I am still on vacation! I am not being paid yet to have to deal with this crap! Every time I got on a plane I would first scan the rows for infants and toddlers and then either congratulate myself or kick myself, roll my eyes and order immediately two of those little bottles of wine.

It took a while for me to find out that there is one more thing that is worse than being on a plane in the close proximity of a child. I am sure you guessed it by now - there is nothing worse than being a parent of that child. I am about to leave for a trip back home with Kai. I have two more weeks to dread the flight and then a total of approximately 24 hours or so before we get from the door of our house to the door of my parents. I flew overseas with him by myself once before, which of course was when I learned my lesson about the most unfortunate person on the plane.

I think I went into it with wrong expectations. I think I believed that a single mother traveling with a one year old baby would be looked at as someone who needs to be helped, protected and...well, helped. I now think it was the massive loss of brain cells during the pregnancy and the lack of sleep throughout the first year that made me forget about just how wonderfully sympathetic and helpful I used to be pre-baby.

I naively thought that people would let me cut the lines at the airport since I had a huge backpack with all the baby needs on my back and a squirmy little boy in my arms. You know who is the easiest person to shove to the side when you are in rush and just need to get to that gate from which your plane does not departure for another 4 hours? The 90 year old lady with a walker and me. I got on the shuttle bus that brings people from the gate to the plane and all the seats were taken. By completely happy healthy people with their legs and feet and other limbs that did not bother to stand up and offer their seat to me. I eventually gave up and sat on the floor, as it was impossible to hold on to the kid and the bus pole at the same time. I am not joking, there was a person who gave me thumbs up. Like I had this incredibly cool idea to fold myself under all the weight on the dirty floor hoping I can at least keep Kai from licking it. I got on the trans Atlantic plane to find out they will not put me in the bulk head seat despite the fact Kai was the only baby on board because there were more important people who managed to get those seats first. We were stuck in the middle of the completely booked flight where I was holding Kai on my lap and every time he finally managed to fall asleep the dude next to me would elbow him in the head and if I turned him the other way around, he would get bumped in that very sweet head of his by the cart offering beverages I would love to taste but had no place to put them on, since the kid in my lap prevented me from using my table thingy and the people around me did not care one bit to offer to hold my beverage or meal on their table thingy, but they made an effort to tell me at the end of the trip with a deep concern in their voice that I did not get to eat or drink anything in 15 hours.

This was last year and Kai was probably too good of a kid for both of our sakes. I think if he raised  hell, we would be offered a better seat, better set up, better whatever options there were. Now he is a toddler, he can get loud and mad and obnoxious and unfortunately for both of us he is at that age where people (at least the few of them who care a little) who would maybe feel bad for us when he was an innocent baby, would just promptly assume that he is a little spoiled brat who can't behave at all, which is clearly a result of my horrible parenting and for that I deserve to rot in hell.

I can't wait! Bon voyage!


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