Those of you who know of our first flight experience, would appreciate the fact that I was a bundle of nerves flying international - let me clarify - trans atlantic - Portland to Delhi - with two layovers and a two year old. That very well could be the definition of doom, hell or whatever.
I had prepared myself for the worst - I had two huge hand bags loaded with everything I could possible think of to keep M occupied. But most importantly, I was mentally prepared to face the worst - I had also grown ample thick skin for the co-travellers who wouldn't be sympathetic, and air hostesses who would hurry, and airports that would be child unfriendly.
So, this is the big lesson - brace yourself for a nightmare and whatever really happens will be better. In my case ,I was so pleasantly surprised - from this home to that, we were out and about for 30-36 hours and M must have fussed a cumulative of about 2-4 hours. It seemed a lot more then, but it wasn't much at hindsight. For the most part, she was such a cheerful trooper that a couple of times I could have cried at the brave face she put up - being dragged from one airplane to another, from one country to another, from one time zone to another, from one world to another.
We did not meet any nasty people - everybody was very friendly, more than willing to accommodate us - the TSA guys willing to spend extra time with M convincing her that her monkey needs to go through security and she should let go, playing peek-a-boo with her while Mommy sorted out extra security thanks to all the extra liquids being carried; the random strangers at airports waving a friendly hi, helping with the stroller and luggage carts, picking up our bags from the baggage belt; our co-passengers who engaged M in play, even offered to make her paper planes and boats and get their hands messy with her play dough, flight staff that only had encouraging smiles - it is not such a bad world out there huh?
What ofcourse also helped us was - tonnes of finger food, juice boxes, crayons, markers, drawing books, sticker books, play dough, fav books, fav soft toy, bindi packets (the Indian influence ;), lotions and powder (to play with ofcourse), lots and lots of diapers and wipes (to kill time going to the washroom again and again to change and ofcourse wipes to "clean the airplane - don't ask for details ;)), and last but not way bit the least oodles of patience to answer all those questions - the same ones again and again - and to not lose it when she is losing it ;).
We did make it both ways and have our own backs to pat :D. Here are some memorable moments from he airplanes and the airports.
M was so impeccably behaved in the 30 min flight from Portland to Seattle that the two flight stewards on board came together to applaud her and presented her with an Alaska Airlines badge! She ofcourse didn't realize what the fuss was about but got really excited when I told her this is what the Captain wears!
Waiting to board a delayed flight from Seattle to Dubai, M walked upto the airlines counter at the gate and said I want to board airplane NOW. The guy was a little taken aback as to how to respond.
In our longest flight ever - 14 hrs nonstop Dubai to Delhi - M lot her patience after the first 9 hours. She kept on pressing the Help button and after a while of my apologizing profusely each time, she very angrily tells one air hostess, "Manya wants to see the Captain - Why Delhi not coming!" Yes, I did hear a fit of laughter from all around.
When we finally landed at Delhi after what seemed like forever, M and I hi-fived as the plane was taxing, and M comments, "yay, Delhi has come - Now I want to do potty". She did it right there as the passenger waited to deplane ;)
On our Delhi to London flight, a guy was seating at the aisle seat and M tells him ever so rudely - "I don't want the man to sit here. Tell him to go away." I was so embarrassed - I told her you need a private jet then - and that opened a whole new can of questions :(.
In London, we actually boarded the flight after the doors had been shut - I was all huffing and puffing with the running around and it was decided to keep the stroller inside the aircraft rather than along with the valet baggage because there was no time and so as I handed it over to the air hostess, her highness remarks, "Please keep my stroller carefully." The cheek!
All through our return journey, I heard the following from M atleast 2.35 million times;
"I want to ride on the airplane wings. I don't want to sit on the seat.
Does Captain love Manya? I want to ride the plane with the Captain.
I want to hug the lights on the airplane's wings."
I am not sure if I'd actually prefer general crying over such arbit statements!
At Chicago customs we realized, a bag had been left behind at London - I was talking to a couple of people about it, while M was patiently observing everything. After sometime, she very cutely says, "Mommy don't worry, London will send the package, I will take care." She is such a cuddly bear sometimes!
Waiting for the last flight home at Chicago, M and I walked into Starbucks - So, I ordered a hot chocolate for myself and asked M what she would have - I offered practically everything - muffins, puffs, crisps, sandwiches, all the junk everything and she looks around as says, "Mommy, I will just have a banana" - Oh my god, the gasps I got from all the people around! I did buy her the overpriced banana and to her credit she had about half of it!
Finally, when we landed at Portland - I hugged M so tight - she had been better than I would have ever expected - we were still in the plane then, and she looked around and said to the people in front - "I need to go fast, Daddy has been waiting for sooo long."
That was such a befitting closing awwww moment!
God bless us!