Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Helpless

We were around 39,000 feet and somewhere over the Atlantic.  Our body clocks were reading about 2am, I suppose.  I was sitting in the lav with a screaming child on my lap, tears streaming down my face.  This, my friends, is the other side of the story when it comes to a screaming child on an airplane...the tale of a mother who had crumbled down to tears in the lav of an airplane. 

*****

When our dear, sweet, precious daughter was born I got a sense of her personality right away.  With my labor and delivery being a short 3 hours, I knew that my daughter wanted things HER way...and her way NOW.

When our dear, sweet, precious daughter turned 2-years-old we sure got our taste of the terrible twos.

When our dear, sweet, precious daughter turned 3-years-old we sure got our taste of the continuation of the terrible twos.  Here she is, at 3 1/2-years-old, and she sure is one spirited little thing.

I have been at this parenting thing for about 5 1/2 years now, and I am still trying to figure out my dear, sweet, precious daughter .  One thing I do know about her, however, is that when she starts a fit, the beast has awoken.  I know that one day I will love her spirit, but at this age her spirit makes it very difficult to parent at times.

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Because I am such a superstar wife, I will let Steve take the last first class seat if that is how the cards fall in the non-rev game.  I have done this on a number of occassions, including three international legs.  As long as he doesn't brag about eating with real silverware, and the ice cream cart, I really don't mind much.  I figure that Steve has so much of airplanes, he should be the one to be most comfortable. Sure enough, on our leg to Frankfurt Steve got the last first class seat.  Not that it would have matter for me anyway, since the kids aren't old enough to be up front, I knew I would be in the back.  After we all entered the plane, Steve parked himself in the comfy space that few get to experience, while Ben, CC, my mom, and I continued to trek back into the plane.  We finally settled into our seats, and were ready for our 13 day journey to Poland to begin.


After dinner, the cabin lights were turned down and we all settled in for a couple hours rest.  I imagine that we slept for an hour or two before CC woke up.  She was uncomfortable, and started to stir.  She couldn't get settled, and got worked up.  She was fussing and then started to cry.  I was hoping that she would calm down and get back to sleep.  After two or three minutes, my hope turned into a raging fit.  Before too long, I realized that I couldn't just let her stay in the seat and scream. 

But, what the hell does one do at 39K feet when your child is screaming her head off?  It isn't like church, where I can walk into the hall or even go outside when a child started to misbehave.  As I thought about where to go, CC's fit was intensifying. 

We were pretty much smack in the middle of the plane.  I couldn't go forward since that was first class.  So, I figured I would head back...all the way back.  Since the air is let out of the plane in the back, I figured that any screaming would be carried away in the wind.  That makes sense, right?  Of course, I hesitated to do this since I would be carrying a screaming child past hundreds of people.  All of whom would be giving me the evil eye since I would have awoken them from their peaceful slumber.  Then they would go on to tell the tale of that one screaming child, whose mother didn't do shit to make her child shut up.  If they only knew...

But, what the hell else was I going to do?  Obviously, staying in the seat wasn't doing the trick so I had to do something.  So, I picked CC up, and started to head to the back galley.

I swear by the grace of God, a women was coming out of one of the middle set of lavs right as I was passing. As she exited that small space, she held the door open and I ducked right in. Before she opened the door, it didn't dawn on me to go into there.

I sat down on a assuming dirty toilet lid, and CC sat on my lap facing me.  She was in the middle of her fit, pissed off as much as I have ever seen.  When she gets this way, it is almost like she is having an out of body experience.  There is a disconnect in her eyes and reason is not possible.  I simply have to let her fit pass.  I have lived and learned: when the fit happens, you have to give her space and let her ride it out. 

*****
To give you a taste of my dear, precious, sweet daughter, her most famous fits were:
- on the sidewalk at an amusement park, at the exit of a theatre.  The reason?  She wanted to pick a weed out of the sidewalk crack, yet we needed to keep moving since the theatre had let out.  She ended up laying on the concrete, screaming her head off.  I simply stood next to her to make sure people wouldn't step on her.  I think she finally settled after 10 minutes, and that is not an exaggeration.  I can't tell you how many people gave me the evil eye on this one.
- while going through TSA.  Yep, we were that family with the screaming child going through TSA.  You think it is gross to walk through that area without your shoes on?  Well, my daughter threw her fit laying right in the mix of everything - kicking and screaming, thrashing about, with her face just inches from a myriad of 'I could only imagine'!  To make that trip better, she later proceeded to throw a fit on the plane.  We were sitting up front that flight, and CC was on my lap.  The fit got so bad that I finally had to stand up and head up a couple of seats.  As I was chatting with the wonderful FA, who was a mother herself, I let CC lay on the floor, in the middle of the aisle.  Gross I know, but that is all I could do.  She fell asleep on the floor, again just inches from 'I could only imagine'! 
*****

As we sat facing each other, I pleaded with her to stop crying.  She hit me in the face.  I held her hands, and asked her to settle down.  I think she hit me a couple of times during all this.  I don't know when I actually started to cry, but the frustration I was feeling was incredible.  I was stuck in a lav of an airplane.  A space smaller than the closets in our house, with a child screaming that was hitting me. Crying was a natural reaction to release the emotion I was feeling.

I recall having a breakthrough with her, and she got back into her body.  I was able to talk with her and all seemed okay.  Eventually, we left the lav and went back to our seats...

...only to come to the point where we were about 10 minutes earlier.  Back at our seats, CC must have realized that she was about to become uncomfortable again and started her fit again.  Back to the lav we went.  I know there were more tears on my part.  Talk about feeling helpless.  The entire plane was asleep, including my husband who was resting comfortably in first class, and here I was with a child that was out of control. 

After a good 15 minutes or so, CC started to finally and truly break from her fit and settle down.  She eventually asked me if we could leave the lav and go back to the seats.  I told her that I would only go back if she promised not to cry.  She promised, and we headed back.  Thankfully, she kept her end of the bargain.  We got back to our row of seats, where Ben was still sleeping soundly.  I settled into the middle seat, and let CC lay on me.  We eventually drifted off to sleep. 

*****

Prior to our trip, I called our pediatrician and asked about giving the kids Benadryl for the international leg of our flight.  The nurse told me that it would be okay, and that plenty of parents call with the exact same situation.  I knew this is a common practice, and I figured I would follow the masses...until I looked at the label on the box at the store.  Under the age of 3 (or 6, I can't remember exactly), the directions request that you contact a MD for dosage.  That was the only thing I needed to put the box back onto the shelf. I am not really into taking medicine unless necessary, and I figured that we could manage the flight.   Even after what happened on the flight, I don't regret that decision.  I am sure that a little Benadryl wouldn't have hurt the kids, but I simply chose otherwise. 

I did learn from my experience that the lav is a great place in an airplane to let a kid cry it out, assuming that you don't take the one and only lav on the plane.  I also learned that having a parent away from the situation, and comfortably resting in first class, was actually good for the overall travel situation.  While CC and I napped the next morning, while waiting to board our last leg into Poland, a well rested Steve was the one to be with a well rested Ben.  

I wanted to share this story since it is rare to hear the other side of the story.  Most times we hear tales of "this one time I was on a flight and this kid was screaming, and it was so annoying.  The mother wasn't even doing anything about it."  I hope my story sheds some light on screaming kids on planes, so that next time someone encounters a screaming child on a plane they have a little more sympathy for the situation. 




10 comments:

  1. Trials of a mother. Wow. Kudos to you for figuring out a solution, and not being afraid to blog about it!

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    1. Trials of a mother is right! The most frustrating part of all of this was having the helpless feeling of giving her space to cry it out, all the while not waking up a plane full of people.

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  2. Been there too! My baby pooped right on the pushback from the gate and cried almost the entire flight. We were in the very last row at the window stuck beside an obsese teenager badly in need of deodorant! I got evil looks too(from parents!) and I was doing everything I could to calm him down. Horrible!

    One day we will look back and laugh. But not any time soon! ;-)

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    1. Good point...these stories will all make for laughs down the line :)

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  3. I am so sorry. My (now) 6 year old sounds exactly like your CC. I can recall traveling with him at that same age and had a horrible experience. He was screaming the entire trip and I had had tears as well. At one point I had to place him under the seats of the airplane to try and muffle his cries. It was awful and once he got to that point there was no getting him back. Like you said it's almost like an out of body experience for them. I tried Benedryl on that flight and it just made things worse. It amped him up and made the rages that much more stronger. He is now reaching 7 years old and it's been a long road to try and figure these rages (and cycles) out. We have learned of some sensory issues along with anxiety issues that he has been diagnosed with. To me it all makes sense now. We still have the ups and the downs but it is much more manageable. I am so sorry and feel for you.

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    1. oh my goodness, that breaks my heart that you had him under the seats. Poor kiddo, and poor Mommy. I am sure that was one flight you couldn't wait to end!

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  4. This must have been SO tough!! I haven't taken Bug up yet, I'm honestly a bit nervous too. With K just instructing right now we haven't really had much of an opportunity.

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    1. Hey, have K take you up on one of his planes he uses to instruct. That would be fun!

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  5. Hi Joanna,
    I'm afraid I'm one of those people who occasionally gives parents dirty looks when their children are screaming or misbehaving badly, but I NEVER do that if the parents are making an honest effort to get their child to calm down and behave. Kids are kids and will misbehave or have tantrums at unpredictable times, but when parents fail to show any concern for the impact that their child's behavior has on others then it gets very aggravating. With little CC, you did the very best you could in what sounds like a very frustrating and extremely difficult situation.
    At the risk of sounding like a trouble maker: does your husband ever help in these situations? If so, does he have a stronger influence on her when she's having a tantrum? I remember as a kid being more afraid of discipline when it was my Dad who was doing the yelling than with my Mom. Either way, don't be hard on yourself. You did the very best that ANY Mom couldn have done.
    --Sue

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    1. You put me at ease a bit...yes, I was making an effort, so that makes me feel better.

      No, you aren't a trouble maker. To answer you question directly, and to not sound too much like a trouble maker with Steve, he isn't always the best at helping situations like this. A lot of times his lack of patience shows through, so I often times chime in. I totally get what you are saying with the discipline, but interestingly enough the kids know I am the one to behave for since I am the one always around. Also, the kids are more attached to me, so when times get tough (like acting out) they will often times latch onto me and want me. (I am seeing a blog post on this topic...)

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