Sunday, January 24, 2010

Tank gets his wings

Last week we flew out to Phoenix to visit Jon's sister, her husband, and their two kids. The last time we saw them was over Easter, when they stopped by to visit on their way from Israel to Phoenix. So it was really good to spend some time together, see how much the kiddos have grown, share funny memories and catch up on current news. We'd been planning this trip for a few months, but I was a little apprehensive about traveling with Jack - you know, the kid who can't sit still for more than 5 minutes at a time, or the little guy who prefers to take his naps in his own bed in his dark room? I went into our trip expecting things to be difficult, but it ended up not being nearly as bad as I had imagined.

We had to leave at 4:45am. I lifted Jack out of his crib as gently as a 7 months pregnant woman leaning over a crib railing to grab a 30 pound kid can do, and breathed a sigh of relief as he immediately resettled and fell back to sleep on my shoulder. And then we got out to the car, and the tantalizing mixture of cold air and bright porch lights permanently lifted him from slumber. And so, our cutie pie started out a long day of traveling by waking up 2.5 hours earlier than usual, with enough energy to last throughout the majority of the day.
Flight #1 - "The Best Dollar I Ever Spent"
We had two flights out to Phoenix, with a layover in Dallas, and then two flights on the way back a week later. It was nice to split up the traveling but it also made each day extra long - a total of 12 hours. Our first flight went pretty well. The plane wasn't full so there was an extra seat in between Jon and I, which gave Jack room to bounce, roll, lean, play, throw ... you get the idea. A number of people suggested that I buy a bunch of cheap dollar store toys for the plane ride. Whenever he gets tired of one toy you just bring out something new. Jon wasn't impressed with the bag of "junk" I brought home from Dollar General the day before we left, but one hour into our trip he was extremely thankful for my chintzy bag of diversions.

Jack loves to put things into containers, dump them out, give himself a round of applause and do it all again. One of his favorite activities is playing with a container full of caps and lids. So it was no surprise that his very favorite toy on the plane was this clear plastic ball full of colorful erasers. He could hardly contain his excitement each time we brought it out. Seriously, it was the best dollar I ever spent. When the plane landed all the ladies behind us commented on how adorable and well-behaved Jack was. I don't think the girl sitting directly in front of us agreed, but then again, Jack did have a habit of kicking the tray connected to her seat...

During our layovers we would walk, and walk, and walk the airport halls in the hopes of wearing Jack out enough to knock him out for the next flight. It didn't work, but it was good exercise. Jack loves, loves, LOVES older kids. I don't know why. But as soon as he sees another kid he starts to laugh. Well some poor little guy happened to be sitting a few seats down from us while waiting for our flight. Jack scootched off Mommy's lap and took off running for this boy, arms opened wide for a hug, and promptly knocked him to the ground. Jack thought this was hilarious, "Mattie" wasn't as thrilled. He spent the next few minutes trying to run away from Jack saying, "Mommy, keep him awaaaaaay from me!" Eventually they reconciled and had fun times together while we waited to board.

Flight #2 - "I'm So Sorry Sir!"
The second flight was completely full, so we had to sit next to a rather large gentleman. He was very kind, especially when Jack threw his toys on him, or knocked a cup of ice onto his lap, or screamed in his ear. I felt so bad. People who sit next to kids should get discounts on their flight tickets. By this point Jack was obviously overtired. He had only slept 45 minutes since waking up before 5am. But Jon and I could not get him to go to sleep. And whenever we tried, he'd start to throw a fit. So, in order to spare our fellow passengers a scream fest, we just both took turns letting Jack bounce on our laps. This is when I started to notice a trend, in both the first flight and the second, and which continued into the last two flights. Jack would get wilder and wilder to the point where I wasn'ts sure how much longer I could contain him, and then he'd crash, head on my chest for a good, solid nap. Unfortunately, this always happened while the plane had started descending (something to do with the atmospheric change perhaps?). So, in order to ensure Jack got as much sleep as he needed, Jon and I would stay on the plane until everyone else had left. Jack usually doesn't sleep more than 45 minutes, or one sleep cycle, when we're out and about. Which is just long enough to re-charge his batteries, and just long enough to make this preggo mama ready to put him down and run to the bathroom.

Flight #3 - "The Rules Go Out the Window"

Flying with a child is a completely different experience than flying without one. I was looking forward to getting a lot of reading done, that definitely didn't happen. We all know I'm a fan of all things free, this definitely includes drinks on the plane. But you have to think twice about drinks and snacks when there are wild, flailing arms in play. By this time in our travels I was already making plans with Jon to go somewhere far away next year for our 5th year anniversary. Both kids will be old enough to stay with a grandma, and Jon and I would just love a nice, quiet plane ride to a distant destination where we can relax in the quiet, reading or doing crossword puzzles, and not have to worry about stinky diapers, Cheerios and naptimes. But for now we're just trying to survive this trip. And that means that a number of our rules and expectations go out the window. We basically let Jack do whatever he wanted, as long as he wasn't in the aisles or touching someone else, just to avoid a tantrum. I let him chew on crayons, I let him rip magazines, I let him suck on a pacifier for the entire trip, and most annoyingly of all, I let him drop things down my shirt and then pull them back out. For some reason he loves this game, I obviously would prefer not to play. But whenever I tried to shut things down, he began to scream. And then people would start giving us looks. So, we opted to endure the temporary awkwardness to remain as obscure as possible. When the plane landed, this game was OVER!

Flight #4 - "Turbulence and Flashing Lights"

Our last flight was probably the best. There was hardly anyone on board, we had plenty of space to stretch out, and there were very few people around us to annoy. We also met a really nice couple with two boys named Jack and George that our Jack enjoyed playing with while waiting to board. This was a late flight, it was dark, and the latter part of our flight was quite turbulent. My heart dropped more than once, I can't imagine what Jack was feeling. Despite being late, Jack had a second wind. He spent most of this trip standing on the middle seat looking back at the flight attendants. They were smitten with the little flirt. He also loved looking out the window. I wish I had my camera handy to capture his cute little face and pudgy hand pressed to the pane, looking out at the flashing lights. He promptly fell asleep again, just as we were beginning our last descent before heading home. And I have to say I loved it. Not because he was finally sitting still and being quiet, although that was nice too, but because I just love to see him sleeping soundly in my arms, his head on my shoulder and his warm baby breath on my neck. Twelve hours of traveling or not, he is just the sweetest thing!

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