When Em was 2 we flew to Brisbane for 10 days to visit my parents. From Brisbane we flew to Cairns for another week, before flying home to Perth.
Em was a well seasoned little traveller by then. She had already flown over 20 times and we had never had a problem with her on a flight before.
The return flight home was my worst nightmare.
It started at the airport. We had arrived quite early because we had to return our hire car by a certain time. So we had about 4 hours at the airport to wait before our flight. Check in was not yet open. So we found a spot to sit down and wait until we could get rid of our bags.
We were sitting near the check in area. All the check in counters had line divider straps to ensure everyone queues in an orderly manner. Most of the check in counters were quiet, not a lot of people lining up, just a few people milling about.
Em decided to take off, as fast as her 2 year old legs could take her. She was running through the airport as though she was running the 100m race in the Olympics. Rick stayed with the bags and I took off after her.
She was at the perfect height to run right under all the line dividers.
I had to duck under everyone. It was a reverse hurdles race and she was winning by a mile. The few people who were lining up were pissing themselves laughing.
Em was also having a great time. Can you imagine the absolute glee on her face and the twinkle in her eye?
I was not happy and I was not enjoying myself. We had had a tough holiday and I just wanted to sit down, read a book and pretend I was single and childless. I had had enough. Nevertheless I chased her until I caught her.
I dragged her back to Rick and the bags but we couldn’t keep her still for long. This was a game and she wanted to play it over and over. There was no reasoning with her. It was pure misery.
I was looking forward to the flight because she would be strapped into her seat. But my nightmare wasn’t over yet.
Finally we had checked in and were on our flight.
We had been toilet training and when we were at home Em wasn’t wearing nappies during the day anymore. Because we were flying I put a nappy on her but she was determined to use the toilet.
Normally I would say that is a good thing. I was encouraging her to use the toilet, but when you are on a plane it is not always easy.
Adding to my frustration is that she would ask to go to the toilet and then once we got there, she just wanted to play with the buttons and did not even go to the toilet.
After numerous trips to the toilet we had used up all the spare nappies I had bought in case of an accident on the plane. I was getting devil stares from other passengers because we were holding up the toilets and Em would scream and throw a tantrum when I would try and get her to go back to our seats.
I had a massive stress headache from trying to keep her under control. The absolute worst thing when you are in a situation like that is all the people watching and listening and judging. It was horrible.
And, where was Rick while all this was happening? He was sitting in his seat, with his hood over his head and earphones in his ears. Watching him sitting there like that increased my ire and he did get a couple of elbows to his ribs and dagger death stares from me. He responded by looking surprised and then annoyed that I had disturbed his peaceful relaxing trip. To all the other passengers he would have looked like the poor guy that was seated next to us.
Eventually we did make it home and we never had another bad flight again.
A couple of months after this I was telling one of my friends this story. We were both laughing so hard. We had tears running down our face. It was one of those crazy laughter sessions that are rare, that hurt your throat and your head but leave you feeling fantastic.
Thank god I could finally laugh about it. Until that laughter session I felt scarred by the whole experience. Travel with a child is not always easy. But it is always worth it.
I do have a post with some tips to help you travel with kids which you can access here.
I can’t wait to go back to Far North Queensland now that she is a little older and experience it in a different way. You can read about what we did and what we saw while we were on that trip here.