Thursday, August 21, 2014

Baby Grenade

It's hard enough just being a parent, but then we pile on bringing our children to the airport, sticking them on a full plane with limited space to move and force them to be quiet. Yes, it's like pulling the pin on a baby grenade and just waiting for the explosion.

I have the opportunity to do some diving commentating this week for the Youth Olympic Games. Since I'm still nursing my almost seven month old, he gets to be my sidekick for the week. My mother-in-law was super sweet to volunteer to watch him while I work.

For the flight to New York, though, I was on my own. We had a test run on a shorter to trip to Knoxville a couple of weeks ago, and the little man was a saint. A poster child for all traveling babies to look up to. 

But in the last couple weeks since the anointing of his sainthood, this guy has grown (off the charts I might add), become mobile and started talking. See, that combo is a recipe for flight disaster, no matter how saintly your kid usually is.

So we get all checked in and through security, no problem. He started getting antsy and hungry while I stopped to grab a sandwhich. Then we hurried to the gate where everyone was already boarding, but I knew I had to nurse him before we got on or things would get ugly. 

Slightly stressed, I hurried him through his milk, and we rushed over to hop on the plane. We got seated by the window on a full flight, meanwhile he's making friends right and left with his big blue eyes shining and his smile flashing.

As we're settling in, they announce what everyone wants to hear: we'll be arriving early. Unfortunately it was followed by: they're making us sit at the gate prior to takeoff (because the airport is too busy to have a gate ready for an early flight). 

Upon hearing these words, my little man starts getting cranky, as if he knows exactly how disappointing this news is. He's suddenly extremely tired. I start going through all the things that calm him down. It worked for quite a while, but he just couldn't get comfortable enough in our tiny space to completely give in and pass out. Oh, and did I mention they turned off the AC? In Houston. In August. While we're trapped in a plane with three inches of breathing room. Yeah, that helped.

Then came the screaming. The inconsolable, desperate, blood curdling screaming. Yes... that was us. I was powerless to stop it. I was powerless to even tone it down. 

I started seriously stressing as everyone was watching us. Not a smile or knowing look of support in sight. The flight attendant even came to see if anyone was severely wounded. I laughed gently and said, "We're fine, he's just tired." But no one likes to hear that because they can't fix it. 

Finally. Finally the plane started moving. And my little man promptly passed out and slept a glorious two hours.

But the flight was over three hours long. He woke up confused and upset. Settled down, then got hungry. Ate then got upset from a diaper. He fussed while we had to wait out turbulence to get up. Changed him in the oh-so-small lavatory with the world's tiniest changing table. Sat down and he immediately started crying on decent because of his ears. 

Yes. That was my screaming child on the flight today. My precious little baby grenade, exploding in tight quarters for maximum impact.

I wanted to share my craziness with you because my immediate response in this type of situation is to always feel bad and apologize profusely. I do this for myself, and I find myself doing it with the kids. 

But as my little guy was screaming in my ear, I realized that instead of feeling bad, I need to use these moments as opportunities. The only opportunity I had in that moment was to love on my child and try my darndest. Focusing on him instead of worrying about everyone around me really kept me calm and in much better spirits. It didn't seem to make a lick of difference to the baby, but it helped me not only get through it but get through it with joy and peace. Okay and maybe some exhaustion, too.

Instead of being a tightly wound ball of stress with tears spilling forth upon arrival, I was pretty calm, cool and collected. 

And as for my little baby grenade... He melted at the sight of Grandma.


  1. My husband was on a trip to Newark this morning, the 6 a.m. flight. That wasn't your flight, was it? We have the same feeling with Patrick. The apologies for the child with autism who doesn't know any better at 18 years of age. The kid who makes strange noises that people are bothered by it. In a way, the screaming baby in an 18-year-old body. Last time we flew with him, he fell asleep on my chest as I crammed myself up against the window (the 6 foot adult child) and as people were deboarding? Let me tell you the nasty looks I got. I would think it was weird if I saw someone like that, too. So I just took a deep breath, prayed for God to share enlightenment with them, and apologized to the woman he kept trying to grab her hair the entire way. The husband was there, but he was sleeping. Ugh.

  2. Our flight was actually the day before.

    Oh friend, how hard and isolating that must be. You are so strong and such a wonderful and tough mama! Keep loving your son the way you do because it's awesome. And so are you.