04 August 2012
In flight toddler
The epic bi-annual journey was once again upon us: It was time for the flight from Minneapolis to Amsterdam, alone with my toddler. Adrian is now approaching the age of two. For those unacquainted with the term "infant ticket," this means while traveling with a child under two years, you pay about 10 percent of the seat price. This is a great deal, but there is a trade-off: You must share your seat with your infant, or in my case, your long-legged toddler who insisted on keeping his shoes on as he savagely kicked the seat in front of us and the kind man next to us.
But I'm getting ahead of myself. Soon after takeoff, Adrian vomited. Just a little. I'm prepared with a highly absorbent towel and wiped up the mess, which landed on both our pants and his shirt. It was a textbook clean up: quick and subtle. In fact, I'll bet my seat partner wouldn't have noticed if it wasn't for Adrian imitating his own barfing sounds for the next five minutes. Still, the experience came with a sinking feeling: the screen in front of me reported 7 hours and 40 minutes remaining in the flight.
Anything goes on flights, and I think kids get that. My previously-unexposed-to-television son watched Cars 2 - twice. He ate snacks by the handful, pulled the window screen up and down to say "hello" to the moon, and repeatedly pushed the flight attendant call button (which didn't matter - apparently they don't respond anyway). I practiced my meditative breathing and watched the time tick away. 6 hours and 29 minutes. 6 hours and 28 minutes. 6 hours and 27 minutes.
There was a period of pseudo sleep. As an infant, Adrian was swaddled and slept for long stretches without moving. Now, he's a stomach sleeper and a toss and turner. He woke up every 30 minutes or so, crying, thrashing, and kicking. I apologized multiple times to my seat partner, who said he was a father, too. Later, he mentioned how they hadn't flown with their son until he was five. I'm not sure if he said this with admiration or reproach. The couple sitting in front of us snuggled their heads together and slept sweetly. I looked on with a jealousy usually reserved for famous writers or lottery winners.
Eventually, we made it. Though I felt slightly less euphoric than last year's trip, I was still relieved to be walking the hallways of Schiphol. It's a challenge, but a necessity in the life of an expat. Besides, next time we'll pay for his own seat.