Dear Steely Dad Nation,
I am writing this story whilst floating in the air 35,000 feet above Planet Earth. In a way, it’s a new twist on the “Mile High Club.”
Remember what it was like BK (Before Kids) when flying was a breeze? I recall flying back to the states from Barcelona, arriving at the airport about five minutes before the plane was about to depart. Annoyed but ever professional, the airline staff rushed me onboard and I was good to go. That was BK but also preceded a certain catastrophe that needs no mention. Nowadays, you must arrive at the airport about 48 hours in advance of your flight and if kids are involved, you might want to get to the airport tomorrow if a summer vacation in the Bahamas is your desire. What with the strollers and the car seats and the food bags and the diaper bags and having to remove your shoes and strip down to your skibbies. Trust me, though, I do appreciate the new-and-improved safety precautions. One must keep this in mind when being inconvenienced with an anal probe administered by members of Homeland Security personnel.
All that aside, the inconveniences are nothing compared to the stress a parent experiences when, in quarters too close and too populated to be remotely comfortable, he or she must deal with an inconsolable baby. My baby girl was apoplectic. She was exhausted, hungry (but wouldn’t eat) and I think her ears were hurting. It was awful. I was finally able to get her to fall asleep until, stupid me, in an attempt to make her and myself more comfortable I lifted the armrest and she went ballistic. At that point she turned violent, thrashing about, throwing pacifiers like projectiles, tearing up the SkyMall magazine beyond recognition. It was a terrible site indeed. I honestly didn’t even care what everyone around me thought; I was just doing the best I could under the circumstances. I know how these people felt because there was a time when I shared those same feelings: can’t those people control their child? We had officially become “that” family: “How was your flight? It was great except for that family who couldn’t get their kids to shut up.”
Once we were able to assuage Ms. Tasmanian Devil, my son decided he needed to use the loo. Have you ever tried to provide bathroom assistance to a child in an airplane lavatory? That space is barely big enough for you and your shadow much less you and a child. My son damn near fell into the toilet and out of the plane after I accidentally bumped the poor lad! Do you guys remember the story of the Indian baby who fell out of the toilet on a train to Gujarat Flushed Away? This situation was no laughing matter.
So I’d like to open the discussion up to the entire Steely Dad Nation. What is your worst travel experience with kids? It doesn’t have to be on a plane. It could be a camping trip (I’m planning our first Steely Dad/Steely Son camp out this summer), a trip to The Happiest Place on Earth or to a family nudist colony. Whatever. Share your stories here…oh, hell, hold on a second. My son just informed me that he now has to go #2! Is he kidding? OK, so write your stories in the Comments. I’d love to hear from all of youuuuuu…