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A Trip to Remember

     My family and I traveled to Missouri last month to see my husband’s family. I must admit I was apprehensive about traveling with a five-year-old (Parker) and a two-year-old (Cooper). Plus, my husband, Erich, had surgery a few weeks prior to our trip, leaving one arm out of commission.

     When we got to the airport, everything was going smoothly. My husband and I unloaded the bags and placed them on one of those hand carts. It was a full load, but it all fit. Whew! As he went to park the car, the ticket lady motioned for me to come forward. Uh oh! I had my two-year-old in the stroller, the hand cart piled high with luggage, and my five-year-old very excitedly jumping around while having an imaginary sword fight.

     No problem, I said to myself, “I’ll get the kids to the counter and then come back for the luggage.” The lady at the counter needed to weigh the bags that we wanted to check so I peeled them off the cart. “Ma’am, your bag is oversized,” said the attendant. Yes, it met the weight limit but not the width requirement. “Do you want to check the car seats?” asked the counter attendant. “No, thanks,” I said.  Then she asked me to take the bags to the security area for them to be scanned. It was only about 10 feet away, but it became a challenging task. The bags did not fit back onto the cart the same way my husband and I had placed them originally. I would stack them up and start to push the cart and off would fall a bag. After several failed attempts, I got the bags on the cart and headed over to the security area. Finally, my husband arrived, “Thank you, Lord,” I thought. At the last minute, with a little persuasion from him, we decided to check the car seats. “We’ll just buckle Cooper in with the airplane seat belt. This way we don’t have to haul the car seat and all the carry-on luggage around the airport,” he said. Although reluctant at first, I finally agreed.

Airplane Ride

     On the airplane, Parker, Cooper, and I sat together. Erich’s, seat was two rows back. Coincidence…hmmm I think not. Parker was thrilled about the airplane ride. Cooper on the other hand was fascinated with learning how to fasten and unfasten his seatbelt. In a matter of minutes, he had the drill down. As the plane was taking off, I was wrestling him back into his seat and trying to keep him contained with the seat belt. I thought to myself, “Why did I check the car seat?” but it was too late for regrets; we would just have to make the best of the situation.

     During the flight, I reached for my “bag of goodies” that I had packed to help entertain the boys while we were traveling. I pulled out a coloring book and Parker went right to work. Cooper was also excited to color for a few minutes; then he grew tired of the whole project and started crying. I thought to myself, “Food! That should buy me some time.” I handed out pretzels, crackers, and lollipops. Cooper ate them at warp speed and wanted more. (Let me just pause to say I don’t normally give out food and lollipops in an effort to curb bad behavior, but on that airplane my high standards turned to survival tactics.)  
     When the food was gone, I pulled out the cars and trucks. Parker again seemed content as he played with his car. Cooper almost immediately grew tired of his truck and hurled it at the seat in front of us, barely missing the passengers. Of course, to be fair, a five-year-old is much more content with sitting still than a two-year-old.
Instead of sitting down, Cooper wanted to walk in the aisle, which, of course, is not encouraged by the flight attendants. Meanwhile, Parker, who had been playing so well decided that he did not like the boy in front of him looking back at him. So, when the little boy wriggled his fingers through the space between the chairs, Parker reached up and tried to squish his hand. I was shocked and embarrassed and offered my apologies to his mom.

     By now, Cooper had gotten so loud I walked back to the rear of the plane in desperation. It was noisier and there were plenty of empty seats. Cooper decided he would stand in his seat and for entertainment would open and shut the window shade. Finally, after what seemed like forever, it was time to land.  After several failed attempts to get him secured in his seat belt, I tapped my husband on the shoulder and asked him to relieve me. Erich sat with Cooper in the back of the plane for the last twenty minutes of the flight. He later told me that Cooper was standing in his seat looking out the window as the plane landed -- some things you just don’t need to know as a mother.

Return Flight

    On the return flight, I gained some wisdom and did not check Cooper’s car seat. Regardless of how inconvenient it was, we were taking that car seat on the plane even if I had to carry it on my head through the airport. I needed Cooper to be contained. Parker and Erich sat together on the return flight. I sat with Cooper, who was happily sitting in his car seat. Although he was unable to unfasten his seat belt, he discovered that he was able to extend his little legs and kick the seat in front of us.

     He kicked the girl’s seat in front of him repeatedly despite my attempts to stop him. I took off his shoes, tried to hold his legs still and even thought about going to the back of the plane, but there were no empty seats. I finally leaned Cooper’s chair back just enough so his toe just missed touching the seat in front of us.

     Then I broke out the Play-Doh. I thought this would be a clever distraction. Parker loved the opportunity to be creative with his dad. Cooper also enjoyed the Play-Doh for a few minutes. Then, he was bored so he decided to throw it on the girls in front of him. After exhausting all the snacks and toys in my “goodie bag,” I held Cooper’s attention for the remainder of the flight by singing, making funny faces, and tickling him. I’m happy to say it worked.

     Cooper did much better on the return flight. I was relieved when we finally landed and, of course, thankful that we would not have to fly again anytime soon (hopefully!). I thank God for His protection and stamina that He so generously gave to us all on that trip—it was certainly a trip to remember!

Copyright © 2008-2015 Christy Biswell

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