Recommended wine for today’s entry: I’m going to have a glass of Foxglove Chardonnay, given to me by my friend Laurie. It’s light and a bit fruity, a good summer sip to refresh me on the patio after I finish packing. And it got 90 points from Robert Parker in Wine Advocate.
We are flying to Connecticut tomorrow. Although the children are older, this is still an enormous undertaking, including cleaning the house for the housesitter, making sure all pet foods and meds are sufficiently stocked to last the duration, ensuring that the girls don’t bring their “slutty clothes” to see the grandparents — you know, those sort of things.
You can’t blame me for hating the ordeal of travel. I have some bad memories of traveling with the children. Time has dulled them, but they can never be erased.
The first time we ever took our oldest daughter on a plane, she was about four months old. We had a direct, two-hour flight. No problem. But, being efficient, and wanting to knock the little tyke out, I went to the pediatrician and got some sort of medicine that they told me would probably make her sleep the whole way. We doped her as directed.
At the airport, we saw one of my husband’s co-workers, John M., along with his wife and four young children. Wow, I said to my husband in my uppity I’m-so-glad-we-waited-to-have-children and thank-God-for-birth-control voice, those poor people! Imagine flying with that whole crew. Yuck!
Guess who was seated in the row behind us? Right. Again, being smug, little daughter sleeping soundly on my lap (these were the days before carseats on airplanes), I looked at my husband and rolled my eyes. Are we going to have to listen to them the whole way?
Well, if those children made a peep we didn’t hear it. We couldn’t. Because just as we reached our cruising altitude, our little bear came out of hibernation and screamed and howled and pooped and peed and screamed some more. I guess the would probably make her sleep the whole way that the doctor mentioned was followed by … but it has the opposite effect on some children. I have since put on my listening ears at the doctor.
The denouement came when she, flailing, cracked my husband in the nose, emitting a trickle of blood. Then her eardrum burst all over his shirt. N-i-c-e, as Borat would say.
Fast forward about four years. The younger daughter, 18 months, was belligerent and mean as a snake. When this child was mad, you knew it. So did all those around you.
I, being a dolt, decided to take both girls down to visit my mom and dad in Florida. Of course I can do this, I told my husband, holding my brain in wet paper towels so that it didn’t dry up while I wasn’t using it, don’t you think I can handle a 4-year-old and a little baby?
No. NOW I know that. At the Atlanta airport, the anal 4-year-old wanted Chinese food, because she always gets that at the Atlanta airport, and I couldn’t give the 18-month-old Chinese food because it was slippery (don’t ask). So, basically, time ran short and I didn’t feed the 2-year-old. I know that sounds bad. It was.
And I paid for it. She was a combination of pissed and hungry, but unfortunately for me, not hungry enough to become lethargic. She was still a lap child at this point, with a headful of blond ringlets and giant blue eyes. We boarded for the final leg of the flight early, as I was traveling with small children and developing a medical condition. So everyone that got on the plane patted her on the head, pinched her chubby cheek and basically irritated the hell out of her until she leaned against my chest. Sweet? She bit me.
Then she screamed at me the whole hour and a half flight. I just thank the Lord that she didn’t know cuss words yet. She wanted off my lap and I wanted her off my lap worse. She was heavy, hot and humiliating. I did my best to calm her, then to berate her; I threatened punishment, threatened pain. Finally I considered smoking in the bathroom to get myself arrested. Anything.
But she had the last laugh. About five minutes before we landed, she pulled open the top of my shirt and threw up about a gallon of partially digested macaroni and cheese from lunchtime. Then she closed the shirt and patted it so that it stuck to me. Only then did she stop screaming.
I remember walking down the 95-degree, 100-percent humidity jetway, literally with globs of vomit dropping at intervals from the bottom of my shirt, hauling the now-happy baby on my hip.
When my mom came toward me, arms outstretched, I could barely get out the words, “Oh, God, don’t hug me,” before I broke down.
Let’s just hope tomorrow’s flights are totally uneventful. I think we’ve earned that.