More on Little K soon, but for now, back to our regularly scheduled programming.
The last time Josie and I flew anywhere together alone she was almost exactly a year old and she had a stomach bug. She was young enough to be my ‘lap child’ so I didn’t have to pay for another ticket but Josie has never been much of a ‘lap’ anything. She was pushing 30 pounds and fighting mad the whole flight. She ripped magazines out of strangers’ hands. She threw toys. The movie on my laptop was of NO interest. She slept for 30 minutes of a 10 hour trip. By the time we arrived in Chicago, I’d been shit upon so massively (through her diaper) that I had to buy a new t-shirt in the airport.
We hadn’t flown together since and the short hop to San Francisco to visit my sister and family seemed like a really bold move. But, Josie is 3 now and it was her cousins 4th birthday and there was a bouncy house and cupcakes involved so we decided to give it a try.
The flight down was perfectly fine. She wheeled the luggage through the airport. When it was time for takeoff she yelled, This is so FUN. And all the well-seasoned business commuters had a good laugh. She was charming, well-behaved, a pleasure. Well done. Congratulations to us!
We had three days of cousins and sunshine and princess dresses. But she’d had an understandably hard time going to sleep in a new place with all the excitement, and by the time we left, she was a sugar-amped, over stimulated, sleep-deprived mess.
The problems started in security where Josie was dancing and singing while I piled our stuff on the belt. I had a hard time keeping her near me. Our line was stopped until the attendant checking boarding passes asked the person on the baggage scanner to expedite our line to get Josie thru. Bless her.
While we waited to have her cup of almond milk tested for explosives, she stuck her fingers in the nearby fan. When I asked her to stop, she ran across security to put her fingers in a different fan.
By the time we left security I was holding her hand, tightly, and she was screaming her head off and dragging her feet. Yes, we were that mother and child cliché and our fellow travelers were giving each other the requisite glances, speaking the universal language of god, I hope they aren’t on my flight. I’d been there. I wished I wasn’t on my flight too.
My goal became survival.
We managed to board early and kept our shit together through takeoff. Then I set up a movie for her on my laptop and plugged in her headphones. I took a deep breath. She was content. For ten whole minutes. Then she took off her headphones and pronounced that she was done. No. You. Are. Not.
What came next was one of my proudest moments as a parent. I offered her a piece of candy. Not a new toy, not a sticker, not a cookie, but a piece of candy – if she kept watching the movie until it was time to descend. I bribed my child. With candy. To watch TV. I’m super-proud.
But it worked. She watched until the flight attendant told us to shut it down. Then Josie shunned my bag of tricks and turned her focus to banging the tray table up and down. The guy in front of her turned around and gave me that look and I returned with a look that said something like – seriously, do you have any idea what I’m dealing with back here? I’ve got a sleep-deprived, sugar-amped three year old coming off a two day over-stim bender of bouncy houses and dance parties. She’s a fighter and a runner, who, just a few hours ago was bent on cutting her fingers off in the airport air fans. Count yourself lucky that a bumped chair is all you had to deal with. If that bribe hadn’t worked out, we would have had a new terrorist threat on our hands.