Jada and Aaron have made the cross-country flight more times than most kids their age (Jada's criss-crossed four times, Aaron twice), and yet how easily we forget how much of an ordeal it is to fly with them. This year, I was especially suckered, because instead of our usual early-morning departure, I opted for a dirt-cheap late departure, which got us in late but allow us a leisurely day in Philadelphia before we would have to head to the airport.
The travel started innocently enough: we got the airport fine, breezed through security, had play time and smoothies while we waited, and boarded without incident. For the first half hour of the first leg, the kids enjoyed the novelty of the new setting, and for the hour after that, they settled into a Charlie Brown DVD.
Sadly, you can't get from Philadelphia to San Jose in 90 minutes. Which left three and a half hours on our first leg, during which time each child alternated between constant motion, sassy back talk, and ear-piercing wailing (both of #1, Jada more of #2, and Aaron more of #3). Plus Amy had a cold and I was getting increasing nauseous from a tinge of flu. I can't tell you how often we looked at each other, Amy with her nose dripping and me turning paler shades of green, wondering when this flight would ever end.
And that was just the first leg. Because a storm grounded us in Philadelphia for an extra hour, and because our layover in Salt Lake City was only 34 minutes, it was a definite possibility we'd miss our connection. Sure enough, we finally deplaned three minutes after our second flight was to take off. Somehow, even though we were in a completely different terminal, we made it to our gate in three minutes, and boarded in a sweaty heap.
Of course, because the airlins didn't want to strand anyone so close to the holidays, they had held back the plane a good 30 minutes, although we couldn't have known that at the time. So it was a case of hurry up and wait; and during the wait, Jada decided to ramp up her sassy back talk and Aaron his ear-piercing wailing. It is times like this I wish I was independently wealthy so I could pass $100 bills to every other passenger on the plane as compensation for ruining their flight.
Jada continued her perpetual motion act and her sassing, but Aaron mercifully fell asleep on my lap. Of course, my stomach worsened at that point and my head was pounding, which made the two-hour flight seem far longer. Finally, we landed in San Jose, and after the inevitable long wait for our luggage, we were picked up by my dad and whisked home. Thankfully, the kids cooperated in terms of pajamas and bedtime, and shortly thereafter, I was out, too, muttering to myself about how we could possibly subject ourselves to this and dreading the fact that we'd have to do it all again on the return flight home.
Of course, soon Amy and I will look at each other and naively say, "Hey, let's figure out when we're going to go to California again." We always have fun once we get here, so here's hoping I don't remember to re-read this post when we're making those plans.