Friday, August 17, 2007

Flying, Not So Bad

I think we all have been a bit apprehensive of flying since September 11th. Although most people are more concerned about terrorists on planes. My big concern is the TSA and Homeland Security. The new laws and regulations cause me to lose sleep over the half empty 8 oz container of Creamy Desitin I have packed and whether or not it will raise "a red flag" and constitute a full body search. I don't worry about being labeled a terrorist. Its laughable quite frankly. Any bit of digging will find that I simply don't have the time to brush my hair much less launch an attack on America. But I don't want the hassle of being detained and investigated so that we miss our flight and our non-refundable tickets. I don't want to hear the words 'no fly list'. And I don't want to know what's behind those ominous windowless windows.

I started off the morning like a crazy lady. I had twice as much stuff I wanted to get done than the time to do it. I felt the house needed to be spotless and laundry done before we left for the airport. In reality all we needed was lunch, showers, and a few last minute toiletries thrown into the luggage. Instead a howling maniac invaded my body as I pestered kids to play outside, "don't track the mud in there", "can't you pick up your toys", and finally "no more playing until we leave".

But once we got into the car I was able to relax. Until we got to the airport. That's when the real fun began. But I had spent the last several days analyzing what exactly could be taken, which items can be double worn, the fewest number of toys, diapers, medicine (just in case), shampoo, etc. We sacrificed and left 'nice' outfits at home and will be using the hotel shampoo. We bought Lainy Ann a new booster seat so we would have one less car seat to cart. Anything, just to keep the luggage down to a bare minimum: 2 car seats, 1 stroller, 1 carry-on each, and 2 suitcases. Its still a lot of stuff. And those car seats are heavy.

I calculated the best travel clothes, don't forget, we have to remove our shoes for security. So I chose clothing that is comfortable for sitting, shoes that are easily donned by a child AND are good for walking. We weighed the pros and cons of which stroller to take, which toys would get the most use and were the lightest to carry. Its exhausting how much thought was put into the packing.

The kids were given their backpacks (toys, snacks, change of clothes, empty sippy cups) to carry all the way to the plane. It was a big responsibility for a 4 1/2 and almost 3 year old. The first task was for Margaret and I to take all of the kids, the luggage and car seats inside to be checked. Then after they were checked they had to be hauled to the bomb sniffer/x-ray machine. It took two trips.

Once Caskey joined us things got easier with his latest idea - single file. So simple. But it kept us focused. It kept the kids from bickering. And everyone hurried alone afraid to get lost. We got into a fairly short security line and the talks began, "okay kids. Take off your shoes put them here." I felt like a teacher on the first day of school. I kept talking and talking and talking. I instructed them on each move to make and how to make "faster", "pay attention", "go with grandma", "watch out", "stay here".

I was ready for a meltdown any minute. It was nap time, they were hungry and we wouldn't let them hold grandma's hand. We got to the gate and let them run back and forth to the window. They were so excited to watch the planes, see the luggage loaded, have Burger King for lunch.
Caskey boarded first with Lainy Ann and the car seats. Then 20 minutes later the rest of us boarded. Connor got right into his car seat and said, "let's blast off". I haven't seen such big smiles on their faces for a long time. William was a bit scared of the noise, but he did well too. The boys napped a bit. Lainy Ann colored and did stickers with all of us. We each took one potty break.

The descent was rough on everyone, but it was manageable. We were the last people to disembark the plane. So we took pictures on our way out, right by the door of the plane. The pilot saw us and we thanked him for driving us safely. That's when he said one of the best things I have heard in a long time, "do you want to see the cockpit?" Hell Yes!!!!

So in our post-9/11 world my kids got to go to the cockpit, sit in the pilot's seat, and awe over all the buttons. I even got to take a few pictures. My son, just like a boy, climbed right up into the seat and settled in. Lainy Ann on the other hand sat daintily on the edge of the seat in her princess pose (head tilted and hands together next to her face). Our flight was on time, TSA didn't 'examine' our luggage, the kids had fun and there were no melt-downs. Its not so bad after all.

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