I've been in a major travel pattern of late – even more than usual for this state-hopping frequent flier. So, when I boarded a very full flight headed eastbound and down only to be situated right behind a beautiful, young mother traveling with her 1-year-old boy and 2-year-old girl, I braced myself for an eventful few hours.
Now before I get going, I will say that I admire this woman's will and fortitude in even attempting to voyage with two tots. I could never do it ... and give her kudos for a job mostly well done.
But, here's where the mostly comes in.
I noticed this family before even boarding the plane ... at the gate. I was chatting with a fellow traveler and noticed something scurrying along the (what I am assuming is a germ-riddled, filthy) floor. I thought perhaps a cat was loose in the terminal. No, this was not a feline on the prowl – it was a 1-year-old child, crawling about on his own, cruising the area solo-style, mom yards away barely noticing her other tot, still a wobbly walker, checking out anything and everything in reach.
And then, I was seated on board right behind them.
The flight began with the younger one screaming an aria of distress for 25 minutes. I related to how he must have felt and almost broke out in my own bawling song in reaction to being trapped in this tube of recycled oxygen in behind this small package with a huge set of pipes. I don't usually drink and fly, but the blood-curdling screams emitted from this pint-sized human almost drove me to start.
He then calmed down for a bit of a nap and mommy decided to put on a movie for the little girl – without headphones. She set up the DVD player on the fold-out tray table and then blasted the sound so every passenger within a 10-row distance could also enjoy Disney's latest animated adventure.
While the entertainment was streaming, mom decided to do a full-on deep clean of all of her belongings and later the small one's rear-end, right in the aisle. I watched with fascination as she kneeled, partially in my personal space and used wipes to sanitize every item in her diaper bag – pulling each out and setting them around her. I awaited the imminent diaper change and was not shocked at the point she executed it.
Little one then arose from nap time refreshed and in need of a bit of exercise, so mom let him loose to crawl up, down and in and out of the aisle.
At that point, I had closed my eyes to avoid the mother perhaps asking me to watch the 2-year-old while she pulled out a jog stroller to do mommy and me fitness on top of the seats or made baby food from scratch using the overhead compartment as a prep kitchen and actually dozed off a bit.
I was jolted out of my forty winks by a pair of clammy hands exploring my forearm. My eyes opened to the 2-year-old's cherubic face, yellow ooze pouring out of her nostrils, big wide bright eyes staring at me. I braced myself for her to lick my appendage like a lollipop or worse – take a bite of my brightly colored "wing." I fantasized about a separate compartment to check the kids ... as well as the luggage.
It wasn't until that particular moment that I wondered what was worse? Snakes on a plane or kids on a plane?
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