Monday, July 7, 2014

Babies on Plane


On the list of top parenting nightmares, traveling with your child might be the leader.

On this matter, Mrs. Blackwell and I have experienced both the best and worst of possibilities.

We just experienced a “best” last weekend when we drove about 420 miles north to our home in Madison, Wisconsin from Mrs. Blackwell’s folks’ place.

Pictured: the boy on our road trip.
I say this was a “best” scenario because we literally couldn’t have asked for better behavior from the boy. While he didn’t nap (he usually does for about 2-3 hours in the early afternoon) he did prove to be a happy traveler.

He spent much of his usual nap time sitting silently in his seat looking out the window watching the rolling hills of the southern Midwest, give way to the leafy green trees of the northern part of this region.

Mrs. Blackwell sat in the back seat to keep the little guy company and he returned her gesture by giggling, chatting and, in general, being really good company.

We were fortunate to have great traffic, which meant that even my whining was kept to a minimum.

Now, let’s rewind back to last December for our worst-case scenario. In this instance we were flying.

Here, I’ll ask you dear reader, what is the Number One complaint about toddlers and infants on airplanes? “Crying,” you say? Well, I think you’re right.

What might be the Number 2 complaint? How about a crying baby vomiting a bottle’s worth of milk onto both his mother and father and filling the cabin with the smell of regurgitated dairy?

Perhaps this didn’t crack your Top Two (maybe not even your Top Ten) but I can assure you its status is cemented for Mrs. Blackwell and myself.

The frustration for the boy began about the moment we sat down in the plane for a two-hour trip. In spite of my fingers being firmly crossed, the crying commenced. It was mind-piercing and inescapable. As any parent who’s been in this situation will attest, there’s nothing you can do except grin and attempt to bear it.

Snakes, babies, what's the difference?
Unless of course your baby will cease crying when you give him or her a bottle. In this instance you give the kid a bottle. But, prepare yourself for the distinct possibility that its contents will be making an encore appearance.

And they did.

Thirty minutes into the flight, as my wife was holding the boy, he moved the bottle from his mouth and proceeded to spew onto his mother’s lap. My initial reflex was to chuckle. My second reflex was to assist my wife. So, with the half-digested milk pooling in her lap, I gingerly grabbed the boy from his mother.

While I was trying to touch the boy with as few points of contact as possible, he returned my effort by again upchucking, this time into my lap. (Funny, but when it’s your lap that’s the target for the vomit, one’s reflex isn’t to chuckle.)

Humbled, I grabbed an obscene amount of napkins and attempted to mop up the mess.

Ninety minutes later when we departed the plane, my son was wearing a T-shirt and no pants while my wife and I were wearing damp, dairy-ridden outfits. It was a long walk through the terminal to the arrivals gate and one that, in retrospect, I believe served as some sort of payment for the tranquil drive we enjoyed last weekend.

The lesson in all this? I have no idea. Sometimes you get lucky, sometimes you end up smelling horribly while parading your half-naked (and equally smelly) baby through an airport. 

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