Just in case you’ve been living in a hole since Halloween, I’m here to tell you the holidays are upon us. With Christmas a mere 9 days away, we are edging closer and closer to dawning our ugly sweaters and dodging awkward hugs from distant, drunken relatives. Even worse, for the most unlucky of us, it is nearly time to embark on trips, some short, some very far, with kids in tow. While it is romantic and sweet to picture your holiday travel day as serene as riding in a horse-drawn sleigh while being gracefully pulled over the river and through the woods, more often than not, it’s hours upon hours spent in a cramped metal tube, hurdling through the air at 700 miles an hour, while your baby bounces happily on your bladder and tries to rip the hair out of the arm belonging to the sour-faced gentleman sitting to your right.
Having traveled cross-country relatively recently with Baby 1.0, let me first and foremost offer my deepest condolences to anyone about to board a plane with any baby too young to appreciate an iPad. When we moved from the East Coast to the West Coast this summer, the iPad didn’t yet have the hypnotic effect it now has on Baby 1.0. The two cats we were traveling with, and also had with us in the cabin of the plane, were equally unimpressed with its powers. Spending 10 hours traveling with three mammals who were incapable of understanding why you had essentially kidnapped them, and were enforcing a strict “no screaming, no meowing, no pooping, no moving around” rule, was A-W-F-U-L. It was a very long day, that without question knocked a few years off my lifespan.
For those of you who hate people who travel with babies, let me assure you, people who travel with babies hate it more than you. Physically, it is a test of endurance comparable only to the Iditarod, or maybe one of those 100k races people run with no shoes. Mentally, it’s a total brain drain, as you have to think through, plan and pack for every scenario that could possibly happen with a young child over 10 hours not in your house, which, if you’re wondering, is literally anything. Barf, poo, barfpoo, boredom, hunger, insatiable thirst…all of these things and more are potentially on your horizon, so you pack and repack and pack and repack your diaper bag to the point where it won’t close, a visual that closely resembles the feeling in your head right about then. To top it off, remaining in constant physical contact with your child for 10 hours requires the patience of a Saint. For those wondering just what it is like, but aren’t lucky enough to have a small child and an impending trip planned, I find the experience could best be replicated by following these steps:
1. Surround yourself with a few hundred people who hate you, crowded into a very small space
2. Purchase one 30 pound turkey carcass
3. Attach turkey carcass to wind surfing kite
4. Hold onto turkey carcass at all costs, as it attempts to escape your clutches by leaping, spinning, pulling and twisting with remarkable force
5. Rig turkey so that at unpredictable times, it rips your shirt up and exposes your nipple
6. Do this for 10 hours without losing your cool or deserting your turkey
During this time, you cannot eat or drink anything because the turkey carcass will slap it out of your hands onto one of the people standing by judging you, nor can you pee because if you show it once that getting up out of your seat is possible, you will never be able to convince it walking up and down the isles 175 times isn’t allowed.
Of course, this isn’t how all babies act on a plane. I hear there are babies who sleep the whole way, or who just curl up on their parent’s lap and suck on a paci while they contemplate if they are indeed aging at a slower rate than those other babies 30,000 feet below them. But if you have a spirited child who doesn’t believe in sleep, I’m not going to sugarcoat it, you have your work cut out for you. There is no amount of toys or snacks that will make this easy, though they will help. But the very best news is, unlike many difficult childhood situations like sleep issues or colic for example, there is an actual end point to this misery, and it’s measured in hours.
So pack exactly 49 pounds of luggage into your biggest suitcase, fill your diaper bag to capacity, and say a prayer to the travel gods. I, for one, will not be traveling, but I will raise a glass to you brave women warriors taking to the skies this week. Godspeed, my friends.