With combined frequent-flier miles (some graciously donated by my folks) the five children and I were able to fly to Detroit this month to join my family in celebrating my brother’s wedding. It is not an trivial matter, flying with five children, as you can well imagine. The three boys and I went to Texas in August and had not one, but two layovers. It was an extremely long flying experience (both ways) especially for such a short visit (less than a week). It did, however, result in many miles accrued for our frequent-flier memberships. It also made me very confident about dealing with a ‘short’ trip to Michigan of only 4.5 hours. Really, how bad could it be? We have this spiffy portable DVD player which makes flying much more entertaining. I traveled with Tim’s old laptop so I could watch movies or write if I desired. I even had Tim load a movie on to his MP3 player. I was set.
This time Tim was able to get a gate pass and accompany us to our departure gate. I guess I looked a bit overwhelmed with five squirmy, active children. They were probably so glad someone was willing to claim us and help us so they didn’t have to feel responsible. I loaded all the kids up on Dramamine before we boarded. The four older children swallowed it fine but Sarah decided to chew it. We’d learned on our last flight that it was NOT a chewable medicine (tastes awful). The other kids were all yelling at Sarah to drink her juice, take a bite of a cracker, something. It was funny. She just scrunched up her nose and kept chewing. She made a face, finished the pill and then calmly drank her juice. She’s obviously tougher than the rest of us.
As always, I dressed the children in matching red shirts, so they could be easily found if they were somehow separated from us. For some reason, Tim didn’t wear a red shirt as he accompanied us to the gate — can’t imagine that he would have wanted to distance himself from us or anything.
… and now for the un-posed picture showing the fighting & arguing …
We were in the BACK of the plane (row 44) so we took advantage of their early boarding time — I figured they wouldn’t hassle me as they board those back rows first plus I’m sure I looked just a wee bit stressed handling back packs and lap top bags and assorted baby blankets. Thankfully we can’t really see ourselves during those moments. “Hold on to your sister’s hand. Don’t drop that bag! Wait, wait, not yet. Okay, keep walking. Don’t stop, there are people behind us.” The only thing more awkward is trying to hold a baby at the end of the walk way while closing up the stroller. I think one time I actually handed one of the children to a complete stranger while I found the clasp on the stroller. Ah, the things we are driven to in times of stress. On this night the last thing I saw was Tim waving to us sweetly as he watched us board the plane. For some reason it was very touching to see him standing there loving us.
Joshua and Daniel fell asleep almost immediately. Rachel settled down to look out her window but David and Sarah were full of energy. They enjoyed a lollipop which was a nice diversion but gave them sticky hands. Since I’m one of those awesome, plan-ahead moms (I wish) I had some cute apple-scented hand wipes in my bag (out and ready to use). I quickly disposed of the remains of their candy and wiped their hands down thoroughly. Sarah was cheerful but a bit wiggly. I finally pulled her across the aisle to sit with me and Daniel. She was fine there. David, however, began to lose his ability to stay quiet and calm. It turns out my careful wiping of his hands had left a nasty residue on his comfort, sucking fingers. This was a BAD mistake as he proceeded to let everyone in our area know how upset he was. We were in the middle of taking off so I couldn’t take him to the bathroom to rinse his fingers. I didn’t have any water with me on hand so I was left to (very effectively) say things like, “Quiet now, David. Just a minute, honey, I’ll help you. Okay, I hear you, we all hear you. It’s okay.” Finally I just threw caution to the wind and slipped across the aisle to sit with him. He settled down fairly quickly and went to sleep.
They all slept the rest of the entire flight. It was a nice, empty flight so we had lots of room. Daniel and Sarah had one triple section to themselves, David and Rachel another and Joshua and I the last. We could all stretch out. When we arrived Joshua sleepily said, “That was the best flight I’ve ever been on.” Ha! He must have slept just fine. We didn’t watch a single movie or read any of the books I packed. Well, better to be prepared then bored and screaming. I’m sure everyone around us would have agreed with that statement.
Of course, it was 3 in the morning WA time and David and Sarah were not so thrilled with being awakened. David cried and cried. I held Sarah but couldn’t get through the aisle with the two back packs on my shoulders. David was weeping (fairly quietly at this point) in front of me. The older kids had long since walked ahead of me. Finally the nice college-aged man behind me offered to carry one of the bags so I could at least make some progress forward. David cried the entire length of the plane, on the walk way and up until the doors of the check-in gate. At some point Grandad picked him up and carried him. The next time I caught his eye, David smiled this innocent, content smile. Argh! It was wonderful that Mom and Dad were able to meet us at the gate and help with all of our carry-on’s.
A successful voyage!
Whew. We’ll see how the return flight goes. This blog (which was intended to be a short little paragraph) has grown quite lengthy. Hopefully the cute pictures make things bearable.