Earlier this summer, we took our first airplane trip with our toddler and it went a lot better than I expected. In spite of the discomfort and delays, more commonly called “air travel” nothing happened that involved mopping up and/or paying for the dry cleaning of a person heretofore unknown. So that was good. I was dreading taking him on the plane because I have been on airplanes with toddlers before and by comparison it makes poking my eyeballs with toothpicks seem like fun. Which is why the flight attendants don’t hand out toothpicks.
On our return trip, we had to wait out on the tarmac on a packed plane for nearly an hour on a 90-degree day with almost no air conditioning. The A/C vents were operating full out at the speed of a pinwheel and doing double duty as cheap blower dryers. But that didn’t stop me from checking the little twisty knob every 10 seconds to see if it was working. We sat on the tarmac not only before leaving St. Louis but also when we arrived in Dallas, still with no A/C, thus making an hour and 45-minute flight a 5-hour trip to hell, only warmer. The only difference is that when hell is your final desAMtion, you don’t have to go back to the hellport the next day to find your luggage.
You might think sitting in a sweltering metal tube with 100 or so hygiene-challenged individuals for five hours would make a little boy cranky. No. The boy was having the time of his life. The grown-ups were whispering mutiny, but Sean was in tactile heaven. For him, there were so many things to touch and so precious little time. Plus, he had a captive planeload of people who needed entertainment, and who was he to deny his public? Here are some of the highlights from Sean’s airplane activities:
- Push Call button. Daddy waves off flight attendant.
- Play peek-a-boo with elderly couple in row behind us.
- Do impression of a lion for everyone who walks by.
- Crawl under seat. Look through elderly lady’s purse. Try on elderly lady’s lipstick. Get stuck under seat.
- Push Call button. Daddy smiles and mouths the word ‘sorry’ to the ill-humored flight attendant now looking at us through little slits in her eyes.
- Rearrange the comb-over hairdo of the man sleeping in seat in front of us.
- Turn light on. Turn light off. Turn light on. Turn light off. Turn…
- Play peek-a-boo with a friendly lady across the aisle. Offer her remainder of mushy half-chewed pretzel. She declines. Lift shirt and show belly button.
- Shred the in-flight magazine. Use as confetti.
- Put tray up. Put tray down. Put tray up. Put tray…
- Drop goldfish crackers in the drink of the guy sitting in the next seat. Steal his pretzels.
- Feel up the flight attendant’s leg as she leans over across the aisle to set a drink down and then squeal “ooooo-wee!” Flight attendant not amused.
- Dunk hand in a glass of Coke on the service cart. Wipe hand on flight attendant’s butt. Act innocent when she gives Daddy a dirty look.
- Take shoe off. Throw shoe into first class. First class flight attendant returns shoe even though Mommy and Daddy avoid eye contact.
- Put armrest down. Put armrest up. Put armrest down. Put armrest up. Put armrest…
- Start over.
And that was just the first 20 minutes.