While we are on the topic of anxiety (wait, were we?) In my mind we were and that’s all that matters, duh. Here is a little story about Pickles.
When Pickles was three and Sweet Pea was almost six we went to see my mother in North Carolina. It is really far and Husband couldn’t go, so we decided to fly. Of course there were no direct flights to the Ass-End Of Nowhere, NC, so we had to change planes in Atlanta. Really, who doesn’t want to change planes when traveling alone with a three year-old and a hyperactive six year-old while carrying their respective car seats? Awesome. We had a fun visit with Mom, but the trip home was riddled with annoyances. My mom’s car broke down so she had a friend drive us the hour to the airport. We got to the airport and found out our plane had a flat tire (Seriously? A flat tire on a plane? Can’t you call the plane version of AAA?) and we could either wait in the airport for 6 hours and arrive home in the middle of the night or fly the next day. Did I mention that I had a three year-old and six year-old with me? The airline paid cab fare for the hour back to Mom’s. We made it home to NJ the next afternoon without further incident.
Sweet Pea and I thought it was a fun adventure, but Pickles was troubled by riding in the car with all these strangers and the idea of a broken plane. Whatever, Pickles, we made it home safe and sound.
Fast forward ten months and Husband’s brother is getting married! Yay! Weddings are wonderful and fun and the Brothers are in the wedding in their adorable little tuxedos and I could just die from all the cute!! Only downside, the wedding is in the Ass-End Of Nowhere, Florida. Awesome. We had to choose between two flights followed by a two hour drive or one flight followed by a four hour drive. We chose the one flight option thinking the less interaction with aircraft, the better. Boy were we right. Because what I DIDN’T remember was that in the ten months between these plane rides, Pickles had watched the original Star Wars and what I didn’t KNOW was that he paid special attention to the scenes where the spaceships blew up in space. You know, while they were flying.
When wedding time rolled around, we packed up for our fun week-long Florida beach trip and headed for the airport. We checked in and headed to the gate. Husband was in charge of Sweet Pea and I had Pickles, we could still do a man-to-man defense in those days. We got to board first because we had Shorties and would obviously need lots and lots of time to trash the joint get settled. We headed down that tube-hallway that takes you to the plane and something inside Pickles snapped. He started to cry for no reason that we could see.
Me: (stopping in the hallway): Pickles, what’s wrong?
Pickles: Wraaaahhhhhhhhhhh baaaaahhhhhhhaaaaaaaa I don’t wanna goooooooo!!
Husband passes us with a smug look that said: Hmmmmm. What’s wrong with your kid? Look how well behaved my kid is. Must be superior parenting. My return look said: Bite me, Jackhole.
I unbuckled Pickles from his stroller and started to fold it up. Pickles tried to make a break for it. I grabbed him and held him, crying, wedged between my knees so he couldn’t escape while I folded up the stroller and shoved it in the flight attendants hands. We made our way onto the plane and found our seats while Pickles continued to cry to go home with increasing volume.
The plane’s rows only had three seats in them, so Husband and Sweet Pea were sitting in the row in front of us. I trapped Pickles into our row and buckled in his seat and then buckled him into it all while he was still crying and generally freaking out. By this point we were both sweating and as the other passengers started to board, they couldn’t help but realize that they are about to be locked in a large can with a screaming child for three hours. Husband looked over the seats at me and said, “Ma’am, could you please control your child.” We were both in hysterics by then.
The flight attendants tried to talk to Pickles which made him scream louder (stubborn little Pickles). We were sitting near the front of the plane, you know, near First Class (suck it, rich people) so I got to see all the other passengers get on the plane and they all got to see us. The looks I got from those people spoke volumes. I got the occasional look of concern or shared pain from a parent, but most of them were wishing for those X-Men Cyclops laser eyes so they could totally fry us. Of course, if Pickles had the laser eyes, he would have cut a nice hole in side of the plane and giddyuped on out of there.
I had brought a chocolate milk box and treats and books to occupy him for the ride, including his special blanket, Boo Dankie. Not even Boo Dankie could help that day, and I had a suspicion that if I gave him the chocolate milk, he would barf it back up on me and then we would have a whole new sense being assaulted for ten hours in an enclosed space.
The low point was after the safety talk but before take off, Pickles started saying, “Can’t we just exit?!” over and over. I started to think he was having some kind of little kid psychic thing going on and knew that the plane would crash. I started to panic thinking that he knew something we didn’t and that this would be the last thing we ever did, blah blah blah freak out. Parents all know Parental Fear (Kate and Lydia describe it best). It’s ugly, completely irrational and it hurts like a bitch.
Obviously the plane did not crash (You thought it did, right?) and a little while after take-off Pickles fell asleep. He woke up after an hour of sleep acting like nothing happened. It was the strangest. thing. ever. Pickles ate his snacks, snuggled Boo Dankie, read his books and looked out the window. He was almost…cheerful. Huh? Must have been a freak one-time thing that will never never ever happen again. We got to Florida, found our rental car and drove ourselves to the awesomest wedding in the history of awesome.
Then it was time to come home (Dun dun duuuuunnnnnnnn). We packed up, drove the 18 hours to Jacksonville and stayed near the airport at La Quinta Inn (That’s Spanish for: tiniest effing hotel room on the planet). The next morning we arrived at the airport on time, checked in and headed to the gate. We were allowed to board early and this time, the Pickles Panic exploded in the special hallway. I had to peel his little fingers off the seams of the walls where he was holding on for dear life. Pickles cried for all he was worth. “Can’t we just exit, I want to eeeeexiiiiiiiit”, but this time Parental Fear didn’t
take over. The other poor saps passengers on the plane got over themselves and we all had a little giggle together when the Flight Attendant brought our stroller around for the second time asking whose it was and I told her, “I’m sorry, I couldn’t hear you with all the crying“. That was five and a half years ago, we haven’t flown anywhere since. And it has nothing to do with that restraining order from the airline.