I missed the memo about perspective, gratitude, and the miracle of flight.
I’ve just returned from a week-long midwestern odyssey with my husband and three-year old son. While our return trip was nearly perfect, getting there was not half the fun. In fact, the start of our trip was such an inauspicious beginning that I was nearly in hysterical tears a couple times.
Let’s begin with the flight time…departing out of LAX at 6:00 a.m. is just a gnarly proposition under the best of circumstances…the airport is not fully functional at this ungodly hour, the surly TSA agents are just shuffling in and all your fellow passengers are equally sleep-deprived and harried. The vibes just aren’t good. Add to this mix a pre-schooler with an unnatural attachment to his shoes and an understandable unwillingness to walk through that weird metal thing and you can understand why my nerves were already jangled before we even reach the gate.
The nerve jangling continued as we flew on a packed plane, sandwiched between seat kickers and seat recliners. My darling son, whom I presumed to be potty-trained, went on a toilet strike during the flight and resisted all coaxing to pee in the airplane lavatory. Lest you think he did not have to go, he peed his pants promptly upon returning to his seat. At his age, accidents will happen, but there is nothing so crazy-making as knowing a child has consumed a whole bottle of Odwalla, wrangling his resistant body onto a toilet, engaging in a battle of wills as said child uses all his bodily strength to combat the urge to urinate, and then experiencing the tell-tale warmth on your leg once the child lets fly with a pee in his pants. Seriously, crazy-making.
Once my darling boy was changed and dry, the early wake up call finally caught up with us, and we all fell asleep with only about a half an hour left in the first leg of our journey. We were bound for St. Louis with a quick scheduled stop in Dallas. I figured we’d sleep pretty much straight through. My rude awakening, literally, came in the form of a flight attendant announcing that St. Louis-bound passengers would have to de-plane because some unscheduled maintenance was going to take a little longer than anticipated. I’m not proud of this, but as I angrily staggered off the plane, I gave every American Airlines employee I saw the stink-eye.
What we hoped would be a short stop in Dallas turned into a nearly 2 hour layover. And guess what? My darling boy peed his pants, AGAIN. This time, stripping off his wet shorts and skivvies in the middle of the terminal and scampering around bare-assed. At this point, I was out patience and also out of extra clothes, so I was ready to put a diaper on him. But I didn’t have any diapers, and you can’t buy diapers in an airport. You can buy true essentials, like Clinique skin care products, from a vending machine no less, but you can’t buy diapers. Seriously.
Even though I was still really tired and kind of frustrated with the misadventures we’d experienced, thinking about how amazing it is that we can get across our vast country in a matter of hours does help to keep things in perspective. With a little perspective, I can appreciate that I have mostly high-quality problems in my life. And for that, I’m grateful. So what if my son went commando from Dallas to St. Louis? When I focus on how lucky I am to have the means to travel at all, and that I had some pretty wonderful people waiting for me on the other end, it gets a lot easier to tolerate the petty inconveniences that accompany the journey. But next time I’m packing some Pull-Ups in my carry-on. Memo received.