Last week I did something I swore I'd never do - I flew across the country with Jack, without John. I thought I was well prepared for this trip. Sarah was flying with me (with Minky), and I outfitted Jack with all the necessities: wolf pup neck pillow, puppy backpack/leash (don't judge until you've tried to go through security with a squirming toddler), fox backpack full of toys, Finding Nemo, various snacks, diapers, wipes, drugs, etc. I even borrowed one of those wheelie-jobbers you attach to the car seat so I wouldn't have to deal with the stroller. I was ready!
And then we hit the security line at Dulles. It took an hour and a half just to get to our gate, at which point the flight was boarding. And the geniuses who assign seats decided to put Sarah, Jack, and me in different rows. That's right - I didn't even have a seat next to my own child. For some reason, the people who work for United Airlines couldn't seem to fathom that Jack was mine. The woman at the check-in desk actually said, "So you're traveling with pets, correct?"
"Well, one is a human child," Sarah replied. The woman didn't even blink.
We finally ended up with Sarah in one row and Jack and me seated in the last row (and since we were some of the last people to board, I was trying to jam a car seat into the window seat by myself while Jack ran amok). The douche sitting in the aisle seat, who had a seriously annoying habit of sniffing every eight seconds, was totally useless. He even had the nerve to get annoyed when I got up once, during the entire 5.5 hour flight, to get a napkin because my nose was bleeding.
In short, I got on the airplane looking like this:
And walked off looking like this:
Jack got a cold the second day of our trip. A nasty cold. The kind accompanied by a cough and waking up in the middle of the night with a fever. Which meant I was also up in the middle of the night, and I also got a cold. This pretty much set the tone for the rest of the trip (aside from the first few days while the lovely Kimmy was with us, which were actually a lot of fun). Unfortunately, Jack is already pretty volatile these days, but the cold seemed to push him over the edge into full-on Terrible Twos horror.
The question on everyone's mind last week - aside from "When will the terror end?" was, "Where do kids learn this stuff?" Jack has developed a flair for the dramatic that I can only hope will one day be harnessed for good and earn him an Oscar for best actor. When Kim dared to take the hair blow dryer away from Jack, he fell to his knees sobbing, his head buried in his hands in a sort of "woe is me" gesture befitting Scarlet O'Hara herself. When Sarah tried to cheer Jack up (or frankly even had the nerve to look at him) his lower lip would curl into a pout, his eyes would screw up in anger, and he would make a hideous "meh!" noise while hitting himself in the face. His own grandmother described these episodes as "homely." I think she was just being kind.
By the time our week came to an end, I think we were all ready for Jack to be on his not-so-merry way. At least in my house I can confine him to a small, baby-proofed area, while at Grandma and Grandpa's house Jack went skidding around the kitchen, into the dining room, past the office, and through the living room in a sort of race-car-like maneuver that more than once resulted in tears, thanks to the fateful combo of socks and hardwood floors. I left Washington feeling like one of those morons who volunteers to go on Wipe Out (a show my father loves and is therefore somewhat enjoyable, only because my dad has the greatest laugh ever). When we boarded the plane bound for D.C., I was too tired to care that Jack was repeatedly kicking the seat in front of him, spilling pretzels on the floor, and screaming at the top of his lungs for no apparent reason.
The only good thing I can say is, it's over. I survived flying alone with a two-year-old, even if it did age me ten years. Thank goodness John and I have chosen a lifestyle that will rarely require traveling, particularly on long, multi-leg flights to foreign countries.