Jennifer Ginsberg: I am never getting on another airplane with my children. I may reconsider this when they are old enough to put on headsets and plug themselves into some Idiot Box Device for the entire flight, wanting nothing to do with me. But until that time comes, airplanes are now off-limits.
Being stuck on a plane for even a short flight with them quickly feels like you are trapped in hell for an eternity. But as my Mom Brain forgot the pain of childbirth when I willingly became pregnant again two years ago, it also forgets the horror of being on an airplane with my children when I begin to plan a vacation.
Recently, I planned a trip to a beautiful resort in Mexico, with ten pools, a spa, seventeen restaurants, a Kid's Club, a circus, a private beach, and a nightclub where the parents can "Do the Macarena" after their munchkins are asleep! It was marketed as Family Friendly, i.e., it is acceptable for your child to throw his half-eaten chicken taco on the floor of the restaurant.
I boarded the flight prepared. I had real Cheerios, Goldfish crackers, potato chips, a seven-pack series of "SpongeBob," and a bunch of other treats and goodies that are contraband at home. I had diapers, wipes, and of course, a change of clothes for my baby.
I knew she was going to be my wild card. There was a good chance Shane would be delirious, watching "SpongeBob" and eating chips out of the bag, since he is never allowed to partake in these activities at home, at least simultaneously. But my darling Kiki, at one and a half, was going to be tough to contain.
As we settled into our seats, I noticed that the woman sitting next to me was pregnant. After learning that she was pregnant with her first child, I knew this experience could potentially traumatize her. I was determined to make the flight as pleasant as possible, and maybe even teach her a few things while I was at it.
"Your baby is so cute!" She gave Kiana a warm smile.
Kiana eyed her suspiciously and said, "Bye bye," as she spit a regurgitated Goldfish cracker into my hand.
As the flight progressed, Kiana got exponentially more agitated. I know how awful it is to be on a flight with a Screaming Baby. But, I promise you, when you are the mom of the Screaming Baby on an Airplane, the pain and suffering you withstand is much, much worse for you than for anyone else. Not only do you need to endure the fingernails-down-a-chalkboard screeches of your own child, you have to tolerate all of the other passengers' frustration and judgments. Being the mom of the Screaming Baby on an Airplane is a rite of passage. Along with birth and death, once you experience it, you will forever be a changed person.
After trying everything to pacify her, including putting down my copy of Us Magazine in the middle of "Will Britney and K-Fed Reunite?," I gave my husband a death glare. "Your turn!" I thrust my writhing, screaming, little red beast at him, put in my earplugs, and returned to my article.
A woman behind me tapped me on the shoulder in a not-so-gentle way. "It's her ears," she told me, as if she had discovered the cure for cancer. "You need to give her something to drink now!"
"Do you think I have not thought of this, you dumb bitch?" I almost said. I wanted to choke her. So far, I had given Kiana regular milk, chocolate milk, orange juice, apple juice, flat water, sparkling water, and any other beverage I could swipe from the cart. I attempted to breastfeed her, even though she had been weaned five months ago. I would have given her vodka if I thought she would drink it. If you are a passenger on a flight with a Screaming Baby, please leave your opinions, suggestions, and solutions to yourself. The only thing to say to a mother in such a situation is "How can I help you?"
My son walked over to me. He had been relatively quiet for the whole flight, which was odd because he and his sister generally like to flip out at the same time. He didn't look so hot. "Mommy, can I sleep on you?" He crawled onto my lap and closed his eyes. Shane hadn't taken a nap in a year. Why was he sleeping at 10 AM?
I suddenly felt a warm liquid spread all over my body. "What's that smell?" the pregnant woman asked. It was pee, Shane's pee, all over my cute cargo pants and dripping onto my Havaiana flip-flops. There were droplets on my toes, freshly pedicured in Lincoln Park After Dark. My child had actually passed out on top of me and peed. And the "Fasten Seat Belt" sign was on.
Worse yet, I didn't even think to bring a change of clothes for him. Shane hadn't had an "accident" in many months. I stripped him naked and put him in his 18-month-old sister's pink leggings.
We got off the plane. I was carrying my half-naked son in pink leggings and three carry-on bags, and my husband was schlepping the rest of the crap and our still-screeching daughter.
The only thing to do at these moments is blame your husband. "This has been the most horrible experience in my life! I am never getting on a plane again! Why did you drag me on this goddamned trip anyway?"
"It could have been much worse, Jen. It wasn't that bad." That is when Shane began to profusely vomit. All over me, all over himself, all over our bags. We were in the passport line.
The line dispersed and I looked at my husband and screamed, "Do something!" He grabbed a couple of tissues out of his pocket and began to wipe his computer case.
As we were waiting for our luggage, Shane said, "Mommy, I need to throw up again."
I couldn't get to a bathroom or even a trash bin. I ran to a corner of the airport, where I held him while he continued to vomit.
As I stood over my retching son, I noticed a man watching the whole scene from a few feet away. I began to rant, figuring this stranger was a good target. "Why is it that people just watch and judge? Do you think I planned this? What the hell am I supposed to do?"
He had long silver hair in a braid and a gentle face. "Sometimes there is nothing to do but stand in a corner and let your kid puke."
He saved my life that day.
|Jennifer Ginsberg is a Los Angeles writer and mother to three, surprisingly angst-free children. As a former actress/waitress, turned clinical social worker specializing in addiction, turned full-time mother/part-time psychotherapist/writer, Jennifer is particularly well-versed on the topic of angst.|
Find out more about her life at angstmom.com