Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Crash and Burn

Last night, Zoe and I flew our 44th flight together coming back to London from a long weekend in Copenhagen. It was a short flight, an hour and a half and I was in such relaxed state beforehand that I forgot to put diapers in her changing kit (I flew hand luggage only so I had some in my roller suitcase) and I didn't think of dinner before we were inside the terminal around 5.30pm. It was one of those journeys that ended up being 'interesting' rather than bland or eventless.

The security guard asked me, for the first time ever in Copenhagen airport, to take Zoe out of my carrier with the logic reason that "If not, they couldn't search me properly if I beeped". It might just be me who is particularly clever and capable of reasoning that in the case I beeped, they could ask me to remove her, but no, that would be to hard to figure out. He then proceeded to ask me if she could walk through the metal detector herself. Zoe is 16 months and if you have ever experienced a 16 month old you would know that 1. they do not like to be far away from their parents, and 2. sometimes they love being away from their parents, so much that they run off in a different direction entirely. "She is not walking through herself", I answered through my teeth. On the other side a security officer offered to get me a hand luggage cart, which I politely declined but applauded him for the help.

I was in perfect time for my flight, not too early and no need to rush. Except when I looked at the screen the flight showed an hour and a half delay. Nice. With a tired toddler in an airport. After consulting with information it turned our that Copenhagen airport has a little known, large play area with toys and seats for adults. We stocked up on dinner (sandwiches) and headed over there. Zoe played with a French boy whom she followed around like a puppy but who didn't think much of her. One hour was easily killed.

Zoe was her usual little happy self when we got to the gate and I let her walk onto the plane herself for the first time. Walking on as the last people, she was charming all the other passengers, waving her little hand as she walked down the aisle to 28A. Little did they know that they were to see and hear much more from her.

She sat in her own seat as we took off, fully occupied by the little stuffed chicken that they crew had given her along side a book that she flicked through. I was the proud mother of a patient, cute, calm little girl as we started out flight towards Heathrow. After take-off I asked for a blanket and a pillow for her because by now it was quite past her bedtime and I could tell she was getting tired. She adorably pulled the blanket over herself and tried to make herself comfortable on the seats (we were given a full row to ourselves because the replacement plane was twice the size of the original one) but she wasn't really able to lie down long enough to drift off. She knew she was tired but she couldn't calm down. I nursed her a bit, trying to help her sleep but she gradually went into her overtired overdrive that I know only too well.

I finally let her go into the aisle where she quickly looked around and then took off towards the front. I ran after and took her hand, explaining that she had to hold mommy's hand. We then walked up to business class where a flight attendant and I exchanged looks, me expressing that I knew she wasn't allowed her and her expressing that she had to ask us to turn around. I was mostly worried about Zoe turning her attention to passengers who did not want her attention because she waved and pointed and said hi (Bah? Da? Gaga) to most of the people she passed. After a few trips up and down, the most childfriendly of the flight attendants came down and asked if Zoe wanted a ride. We looked up and the stewardess lifted her onto the now empty drinks cart. "Hold on to the side", she demanded and Zoe did as she was told. The flight attendants then proceeded to push the cart up and down the aisle to Zoe's clear joy and amazement. When they finally came back, Zoe was certainly not done but I had to take her and thank them. She was now not just overtired but also set on getting another ride so she started crying when I held her close and tried keeping her in her seat. I explained to her she had to stay there, I tried with snacks, I kissed her and I tried holding her loosely, knowing we were about to land. At one point the stewardess from business came down and asked if her ears were hurting. I almost snapped. "Her ears are not hurting, she if completely overtired". "Is there anything I can help with", she said but I declined and this was probably my mistake. As she left, I almost lost my temper and I squeezed my hysterically screaming toddler so hard that I know I should't and hissed at her. I wanted to hit her, I wanted to pinch her. I took a bottle with rice milk and stuffed it into her mouth. She spat it out, still arching her back. I took it and stuffed it in again, now holding it more firmly. After three tries, Zoe finally started sucking and before she had sucked the 3 ounces down, she was fast asleep in my arms. Now I was the only one crying.

So after 43 flights with her, 1/3 of them by myself, I still have lots to learn. One of them is that sleepy toddlers need a bit more help sleeping because crash and burn is UGLY. Another one is that stuffing a bottle (as much as I hate her still having it) in her mouth sometimes works (there was no way I could have stuffed a nipple in the same way, that requires two hands). And the last one is of course to accept help when you need it and not try to be such a supermom. This is the closest I have ever been to hurting her our of anger, because of the frustration of the situation, one that is public (I know for a fact that her 5 minute screaming woke up several sleeping passengers) and one where there a limited remedies (like a bed where you can put your hysterical baby while you cool off yourself). Let's hope I will remember this for her next 40 odd flights.

No comments:

Post a Comment