It’s around about now we start getting those first flickers of excitement about our summer holiday. You know, when you start thinking about spending some quality time with your husband and children, seeing your extended family, catching up with faraway friends and generally having a wonderful time. You have visions of your little cherubs tucked up under airline blankets on the night flight you always book ‘so they’ll sleep’.
But then there’s that little niggle at the back of your mind... That little voice reminding you you’ve got several hours on an aircraft, with your children, likely by yourself, before you get anywhere near that first excited hug. Dress it up how you will; it’s several hours in an aluminium tube, with small people who morph into rabid animals at the door of the airport, alongside random strangers who either don’t have kids or who’ve forgotten what it’s like to have kids. It’s a rollercoaster of hell. And that’s all there is to it.
It starts when you get to the airport. You’re congratulating yourself on a successful first leg, with all children present and accounted for, dressed, reasonably clean. You’ve remembered your passports, spare clothes, snacks. You might even have remembered to charge the iPads. Then bam! – one of the little darlings decides you’re having it too easy and the first tantrum ensues, probably over something horrendous like not getting to climb on the baggage belt. There’s a queue of tutting strangers behind you, the check-in agent is looking at you like you’re attempting to check in a Komodo dragon and there’s just no stopping the hellian on the floor.
Then you realise you’ve left the car seats in the car. All of them. You’re away for eight weeks in three different countries, so hiring isn’t an option. The husband – who’d been hoping to drop and run – is dispatched back to the car, leaving you to deal with the tutting strangers, the horrified check-in agent and the Komodo dragon hellian. And the baggage. By yourself. And of course, without the car seats, you can’t check in.
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The husband returns with the car seats. Unwrapped. The check-in agent wearily reminds you the seats must be wrapped before they’re checked in. The husband is dispatched to the wrapping machine. The tutting gets louder, the agent grumpier. The tantrum continues as you try desperately to pretend the hellian clinging to your left ankle isn’t your hellian at all.
And right about now, the wondering whether it’s all really worth it begins...
Then it dawns on you your bags (and the car seats) are sailing merrily down the baggage belt, your boarding cards are in your hand and the hellian has stopped howling. There is hope.
You gather everyone and everything together, give the husband one last kiss and try not to notice the relief on his face as he backs slowly, and then ever faster, out of the airport doors. And on you go towards security.
Did someone say security? Sorry, they’ve confused it. With a zoo. And your animals are the star attraction as they swing from the dividing barriers, bump into other passengers and knock over their luggage, before deciding they need to be as involved as possible and start emptying out your hand luggage. Everywhere.
The baby decides now is a good time for a feed. No, not in three minutes, now! And the baby lets you – and everyone else in security – know about it. Instead of wondering if it’s all worth it, you’re now wondering how feasible it would be to return everyone to the check-in desk, retrieve the bags (and car seats) and call the husband back from breaking land speed records getting over the Garhoud bridge.
At this point, if you’re lucky, a sympathetic security guard may help you wrestle bags, babies and children towards passport control. If you’re unlucky, you’ll end up wrestling it all yourself. Either way, you’ll find yourself in yet another queue, with yet another bunch of random strangers tutting ever more loudly, probably supervising yet another tantrum and maybe even refereeing a little sibling scrap to liven things up a bit.
But, proving miracles do happen, shortly after this you’ll find yourself on the aircraft. Hopefully you’ll still have all the children, all the bags and a remnant of your sanity. You may even be in the seats you asked for. You’ll sink into yours with a tiny sigh of relief and self-satisfaction you’ve made it this far. The children will bounce into theirs, momentarily distracted by the screen, the buttons and the general newness of being on an aircraft. All will be well...
Until shortly after take-off when the baby decides sleep is for wimps, the older ones start fighting over their iPads and the passenger in front fires the first of many complaints about seat-kicking. Are we there yet?!
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