“Out of all of the things you’ve handed down to our daughters, genetically, what do you feel the worst about?”
This is an actual question my husband asked me the other day. I looked at him, brow furrowed and mouth agape, wondering if he actually expected me to answer. Half of me thought that I must have heard him wrong, but then the other half of me remembered that this was my husband we were talking about — the man who once told me that rubbing the back of my arm was like an intellectual adventure, because it felt like he was reading braille. Damn you, Keratosis pilaris. In any event, it was a question not uncharacteristic of a one Patrick Sullivan and a completely acceptable query, I was told, because he already had something specific in mind. He then spent the next 6 minutes showing me pictures of Frida and Anthony Davis.
Unibrows aside, if I had to answer honestly, I’d probably say my tendency to wear my emotions on my sleeve. Turns out, with me, you really can judge a book by its cover, and sometimes that cover is housing a psychological thriller. You could look at it as a good thing — after all, what you see is what you get — but in the midst of an argument, I think my husband would probably characterize it a bit differently. I mean sure, when Adele does it, it’s art, but you try calling someone a thousand times, and suddenly you’re the town stalker. Don’t piss me off if you want uninterrupted use of your phone; that’s what I always say.
Anyways, I’m pretty sure that this trait is genetic, as my children most definitely possess it — a truth that has never been more evident than when we took our daughters on their first plane flight for Memorial Day Weekend. We had been looking to get out of Miami that week, since we value not being shot, and decided that it’d be a perfect excuse to visit family and friends in Atlanta. So we booked our tickets, asked the age-old question of Benadryl or no Benadryl (ultimately choosing not), and said a silent prayer for our sanity.
Now? I’m a survivor of child plane travel. And now I know this: there are only three circumstances under which you should ever fly with young children. 1) If you’re a masochist that thrives on shame and public humiliation; 2) if you’re suicidal and looking for that final thing to push you over the edge; or 3) if you’re naturally inquisitive and eager to know how it feels to be hated by 100 people simultaneously. Otherwise, let me save you a lot of pain, embarrassment, and loads of laundry. Stay home.
The plane flight there was somewhat manageable. While it could by no means be classified as an enjoyable experience, on the scale from 1 to Kanye, it wasn’t that terrible. The plane flight home, however, was a certifiable fliasco.
Our adventure began in the terminal, where Brooke decided that she’d like to mimic what she imagined a pterodactyl in heat might sound like. She contorted her features into a face not even a mother could love and ran around screaming like a banshee, while I was left wishing it was my death this little Irish spirit was heralding. Meanwhile, her sibling — in a sisterly showing of solidarity — was also wailing a Gaelic lament and thrashing around like a fish out of water. So Pat took control of Brooke and led her off into the terminal for a hopefully-tiring walk, and I started tossing Blake in the air, secretly hoping she’d laugh so hard she’d lose consciousness.
It didn’t happen.
One hour and approximately 30 new enemies later, it was finally time to board. But when Pat went to scoop Brooke up in his arms, she decided that the airport terminal was her new fave hangout and started kicking violently in a desperate attempt to regain her freedom. She was like a regular Rosa Parks, fighting the good fight. You can imagine the walk down the ramp that followed.
Nobody puts baby in a corner.
Once seated, I was confident that this little trip would take a turn for the better. My purse was nearly unrecognizable, having transformed into a clown car of snacks, toys, and drinks, all of which were now spilling out onto the tray table in front of me, and I knew I had what it took to keep these little demon spawn at bay.
I knew wrong.
For the entire flight that followed, my children lost their proverbial sh*t. Blake continued on in her fish-like behavior, throwing her head back violently and head-butting me with reckless abandon. I kept trying to explain to her that if she grew up to be an MMA fighter, I’d have to disown her, but she would not be deterred. And when I made the ingenious decision to turn her around and face me instead, little Brandon Spikes decided to gouge out my eyes in such a fashion that you’d have thought an SEC title were on the line. Only, I’d pay someone else to take this recruit. At the same time, Brooke was trying to climb over the seat in front of her, and her forward-situated neighbors were not in the mood for company. But there was seemingly nothing I could do to settle her. Cheddar bunnies, jammy sammies, chocolate-covered yogurt raisins? It didn’t matter what I gave her, the tiny tyrant would take one bite and then chuck it at the nearest unsuspecting passenger. At least I know she has a future in pitching.
As I watched the scene unfold around me, I turned to my husband and legitimately started to cry. I didn’t understand what was happening. I thought I had the fail-safe for all potential meltdowns in my laptop, iTunes, and Oliver and Company. It had never let me down prior. Cranky? Oliver and Company. Tired? Oliver and Company. SIDS? Oliver and Company. There was nothing it couldn’t fix! Except, it turns out, being on a plane. Then, f*ck Oliver, Brooke said. She never liked that entitled cat anyway.
In the end, we did everything that we were supposed to do in order to make this a seamless experience, but no solution seemed to result in its intended consequence. We fed Blake a bottle on takeoff, so that her ears wouldn’t hurt upon ascent, but that only caused her to vomit on both me and herself thereafter. And when the flight attendants came around with drinks for the passengers, Brooke decided to scream at the top of her lungs until we took the water out of the sippy cup we had remembered to bring and put it into a big girl cup of her own. Of course, once we finally acquiesced, in a valiant attempt to save eardrums cabin-wide, she proceeded to spill the water all over herself and the seat on which she was sitting. By the end of the flight, Patrick was trying to figure out if there was any way that he could just…like…stop living, and I was researching nearby zoos with poorly fenced gorilla enclosures. When we finally emerged from the aircraft, Brooke was shirtless, Blake had CTE, and both mom and dad had mentally canceled all of the previously scheduled trips to follow. Never have two tiny terrorists been more deserving of their spot on the no-fly list.
Now, I’m not saying that we’ll never fly with our children again. That’d be unrealistic and reactionary.
I’m just saying that maybe we lead our daughters into an agitated beehive prior to their next flight.
I’ve heard great things about Benadryl.