Getting to live in different places—especially fabulous ones like Southern California—is a huge perk of Army life. Unfortunately, sometimes (more often than not, it seems) those places happen to be really far away from family. When you’ve got young kids, you can handle that in two ways. You can adopt a no-fly policy and tell relatives that if they want to see you and your children, they can get their butts on an airplane and come see you. (We’ve got many friends who’ve done this, and we cannot blame them one bit.) Or, you can torture yourself by packing up what seems like half your life and schlepping your whiny kids across the country, much to the heartache of your fellow travelers.
As evidenced by the fact that my twins are just shy of 2 1/2 and they’ve already taken nine round-trip flights, we fall into the latter category. Seriously, someone’s going to have to send us to rehab soon to stop us from ever doing this again. You’d think we would have learned our lesson by now. (Family, you’re lucky we love you so much!) At the end of every flight, we arrive at our destination disheveled, covered with mysterious fluids, and physically in pain from lugging around a double stroller, two car seats, five suitcases, countless toys, and two screaming children. Keith has said after every single trip that he’s rarely been so stressed out in his life—and he’s been to war twice.
(For further evidence, check out my account of a flight the boys and I took with my Aunt Terry here.)
Yet here we are, ready to do it again. We’re heading to New York for Thanksgiving, and our house looks like we’re preparing to move to China. There are stacks of clothes and open suitcases everywhere. Traveling in the winter is even worse because sweaters, boots, and coats take up way more room than t-shirts and flip-flops do. Plus, it’s about 35 degrees colder in New York than it is here in Los Angeles. So, we’ve spent the past week digging jackets, hats, and scarves out of dusty boxes in our garage and scouring Target for the last two toddler winter hats they had. (The only reason they sell winter hats here in the first place is because the minute the temperature dips below 70, Southern Californians pull out their Uggs and puffy coats and act like they’re suddenly in the Arctic tundra).
I am seriously stressed out. Sure, you would think Matt and Nate would be old pros at traveling by now, but they have never been on a flight quite this long—about six hours! Their longest flights to date have been no more than five hours, and they were ready to explode in every way by the end of them. Plus, the older the boys get, the harder it is to get them to sit in one place for very long.
But Keith and I are ready for battle. The iPads are loaded with toddler apps, episodes of “Team Umizoomi” and “Bubble Guppies,” and Christmas shows. Let the boys’ brains rot and their eyes get crossed if it keeps them from screaming and kicking the crap out of the seats in front of them for six hours (which pretty much sums up our last flight). But just in case the iPads don’t do the trick, we are also loaded down with books, stickers, crayons, baseball cards, Hot Wheels, etc. My carry-on bag looks like Santa’s sack of toys. I am also going to let the boys carry their own little backpacks that I am stuffing with little toys for them to explore. And, we’ve got changes of clothes for the boys (because they manage to pee all over themselves on every flight), any kind of snack you can think of, diapers, wipes, coats, hats, mittens …. sigh.
We know that once we are at “Meema and Peepa’s house,” it will all be worth it. The boys are now at the age where they actually miss their relatives—especially Grandma and Grandpa—and ask for them frequently. They are so excited for this visit, so I’m hoping that will encourage them to be good on the flight. For extra motivation, we told them we talked to the pilot and he said he will have to turn the plane around if they are not good. Bwahahahaha.
If you are a parent who is also getting ready to fly with small children, check out an article I wrote for Baby Gizmo that includes 10 tips on flying with young children. And if you’ll be flying for Thanksgiving without children, please, cut the parents of crying kids some slack. Ask any parent what stresses them out most about flying with their children and I guarantee you they’ll say it’s the dirty looks they get from fellow passengers. Trust us, we want our kids to sit still and be quiet as much as—if not more than—you do. We’re trying our best, and a sympathetic smile from you will go a lot farther than an irritated scowl!
Happy Thanksgiving, and safe travels, everyone! And New York City, brace yourselves—the Walters twins are coming!