(P.S. I am trying to tick off the long list of overdue posts. But thought of starting with this.)
So, like I mentioned in my earlier post, we moved from Virginia to Portland at the end of last month - it was a close to a 6 hour flight - thankfully (or not) non-stop. And it was M's first flight ever!! Ever since M was born, we have somehow always postponed any long distance vacation plans for some reason or the other but finally the inevitable became evitable. Weeks in advance I started talking to Manya about the move in general and the flight journey in particular. We don't know how much of it she really understood but if you asked her where are you moving to, pat would come the reply - Potand (her version of Portland). Then if you would asked her, how will you go, she'd say Ayhpaayne (airplane) - and shaking her head vigorously she'd tell you, 'Faaah vehyy vehhy faah' (far, very very far.)
And then came the actual day that started on a great note. M was elated at the airport - all the planes, so many people to wave to and talk to (by this time you do know that her highness is a social butterfly), TSA agents to play peek-a-boo with (yes, yes, she actually played peek-a-boo as we were being screened), lot of space to run around. With the result by the time we actually boarded the flight, the poor thing was fast asleep! She did not stir when we boarded or got seated or even when the plane took off! All this seemed to good to be true and as I browsed through Facebook using the in-flight wi-fi, I had those warning bells in my head going strong.
A mother's instinct is never wrong (aah, well mostly) - about an hour into the flight, Madame M wakes up and looking at all of us in our seats - with the window open with a view of the sky - she just panicked! From then on was perhaps a nightmarish flight for us the parents and a few people around (though I must make a mention that everybody was so very supportive - no irritable glances or WTF expressions thrown our way - mostly elderly crowd who kept on cheering us up and told us she was doing great even as we were on the verge of losing our patience completely!)
While Manya didn't exactly howl her lungs out - I am sure in all the din of an aircraft only one or two rows in front of us and next to us would be able to hear her - but as her initial cries gave way to some sobbing and then the most annoying thing of it all - constant whining. She kept on tugging at Vish and me and telling us - "Get up, Get out, no airplane, car driving". She went on an infinite loop with these phrases - God I'd give anything to jump out of the window at that time! Imagine for four hours, every 10 minutes to listen to that! No options for distracting her worked - books, coloring, even the tablet! What finally did work was I handed her the baby wipes which she pulled out and began profusely cleaning the seats, the food tray, her self, her shoes with it - wow! I wondered why didn't this idea strike me in the beginning!
Like all good things, nightmares also come to an end. Fortunately for us, we landed half an hour before time (we joked with our co-passengers that the pilot had also had enough of M), and the minute the wheels touched the ground M was back to her cheerful self - after which she tried to compensate by being extra patient :). Aww, poor little girl.
We have an India trip coming up in the year end - that is a 26 hour haul start to end with two layovers and a total flying time of about 18-19 hours. And what is better news is that I will be flying alone with M. That will be some experience and I already can feel my head spin thinking about it - but what must be done has to be done. Here's what I plan to do differently this time - try to keep her awake at boarding and take off, get her used to some basic apps on the iPAd and get her use to some baby earphones, take more coloring, sticker options along, take an extra box of baby wipes for her to clean everything (I am serious) - what suggestions do you have?