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.
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.