In a few short weeks the whole family will be jetting off to see the natural splendor of Yellowstone National Park. While I have no doubt that the scenery will take my breath away and the activities will be great fun, I find myself dreading the flights.
It is not just that flying economy involves squeezing my 6’2″ “big-boned” body into a seat designed for a midget. History has taught me that flying with children is an experience that teaches you about yourself – mostly how much patience you need!
Family flying is something that always generates such “fond” memories. Such as the time I found myself trapped in my seat with my cupped hands full of child vomit, no free hand to undo my seatbelt, and desperately trying to get Joanne’s attention by waving my foot at her across the aisle while she was blissfully absorbed in the obligatory romantic comedy.
Or the time we flew to England and I found myself behind a person who smashed his seat painfully into my knees within seconds of takeoff. When I politely asked if he could move it forward just a tad, he complied – but clearly we were not off to a good start. He quickly fell asleep, only to be awoken when our 10-year old, Daniel, absent-mindedly played his hands across the headrests of the seats in front on his way to the bathroom. This resulted in Daniel dragging his whole hand clear across the face of our sleeping friend, causing the man to wake up with such a start that I believe the only way he could have been more startled would have been if Daniel had thrust his fingers up his nose in the process. If looks could kill, Daniel would have dropped dead – but this is Daniel we are talking about and the daggers merely bounced off of his shield of oblivion.
In my travels I have been witness to fellow passengers whose behaviour was so obnoxious that, had I finally lost control and murdered them, I believe the other travelers would have provided an alibi. And I also observed one young fellow who displayed astonishing grace and charm even after having a 1/2 litre bottle of water emptied into his lap by Gregory, followed by being repeatedly kicked by Sarah as she screamed and insisted that she would NOT put her seatbelt on. Our “hero” even sat for hours with the sleeping (at long last!) Sarah’s feet draped across his lap. (I wonder if this young man has been put off kids for life…)
Things would probably go better if Joanne and I had similar views on travel, but my laissez-faire approach does not fit well with her ideals of everything being well planned and organized.
One thing Joanne always tries to do during long journeys is find interesting activities to occupy the kids. While well-intentioned, and sometimes successful, there have been a few misfires. My favorite was on a drive to Florida, when she handed each of the kids sheets of silver foil. The intent was to craft little silver works of art – a nice crown or swan perhaps? What actually happened was that about 2 minutes after handing out the materials, a large silver ball came flying from the back of the car and crashed into the back of Joanne’s head…a lesson in humility for sure.
So, keeping in mind the hours of flights and car journeys ahead of us, I’d love to hear your suggestions for keeping kids happy and quiet on a long trip – other than the obvious “Oh, you look like you have allergies, drink this cup of Benadryl.” The life you save might be your own.