Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Little wings

Jennifer, Kyle and I flew to North Carolina for Thanksgiving, and, boy, are our arms tired! Carrying that kid and all of his stuff isn't easy. There once was a time when Jennifer and I would travel somewhere, arrive at the airport an hour or so early, check our luggage for free, and wine and dine on sour pulled pork sandwiches and overpriced water bottles from the food court. These days, we're lucky to make it to the gate before boarding time.

Before I became a dad, I think I underestimated just how many big things you have to carry around for someone so little. As I wrote in an earlier post, Kyle rode to the Catskill Mountains in nearly total darkness because all his stuff blocked the windows of the car (fortunately, there was a little gap between his stroller and boppy pillow, so I was able to see enough of the road to drive). You can’t pack that many things for a plane ride, however. An aircraft simply can't handle it. The FAA learned that a few decades ago, when a plane loaded with three babies and their baggage failed to get off the ground, causing a lengthy flight delay. Half the passengers went home without hearing because of the infant screams, and all the drool caused so much flood damage that the plane had to be permanently grounded.

These days we’re allowed to take a stroller, car seat, diaper bag, and a bag of toys to distract the baby so that he won’t realize that his life is in the hands of a pilot who’s on a third overtime shift. Everything has to go through the X-ray, since babies are known to hide pocket knives and semi-automatic weapons under their burp cloths. So, this past weekend, as Jennifer carried the little guy through the metal detector, I stayed behind with the equipment. Most times I am testing the patience of the person behind me as I load up a half-dozen bins worth of stuff, and then take apart the stroller and car seat to shove it through the X-ray machine. That is, unless the person behind me is a clueless first-time flyer, as was the case this weekend. As I was scurrying to get my stroller, diaper bag, shoes, jacket and sweatshirt into those bins and on the conveyor belt, this new flyer would stop me to ask whether her mini-refrigerator-sized carry-on needed to be X-rayed. Needless to say, it took me a while to get through security.

The flight itself is also a change from what we had been accustomed to. Since infants don't need their own seat, Jennifer and I spent the entire ride with someone on our lap who drools, farts, burps, and demands all of our attention. Normally we end up sitting next to a person like that, so this is a little more in-your-face. For the most part, Kyle is an easy traveler. He has yet to throw a tantrum or set anything on fire. That's a good thing, too, since he's already been on seven flights (I'm not kidding). On our last trip, the flight attendant even gave him wings. I'm guessing that, by the time he's five, he will have traveled enough miles to earn a free overseas flight. I just worry about much luggage we'll need for that trip!

No comments: