Sunday, November 29, 2009

Baby on a plane

As my wife Kara and I walked down the jetway like two inmates taking a final walk down the Green Mile, we steeled ourselves for the ordeal to come. Perhaps there are easier ways to get an infant to Florida for a cousin’s wedding than bringing him with you on the plane, but the doctor said we couldn’t mail him anywhere until he’s old enough to know that packing peanuts aren’t for eating.

“Ready to do this?” I asked.

“Honestly, I don’t know,” Kara replied.

We’d been dreading this flight for several months, worried about how our five-month-old son Evan would fare. He’s generally pretty good, but airplanes to babies are like full moons to werewolves. I’ve spent a decent portion of my life listening to other people’s kids screaming on airplanes, or as I’ve come to think of it recently, banking credit. The time to burn through that credit had finally arrived.

We unpacked Evan from his car seat and carried him onto the empty plane, enjoying the only perk of flying with a child, which is that you can get on the plane before everyone else, maximizing the amount of time you spend trapped with him.

I might not totally understand all of the plot intricacies of the movie “Snakes on a Plane,” but from what I gleaned from the trailer, people on the plane greeted the snakes with the same enthusiasm with which they greeted $15 checked bag fees. Still, when it comes to which terrifying creature your average air traveler would prefer to be stuck next to for three hours, I’d guess that a significant portion would choose boa constrictors over babies.

You could see people checking their boarding passes as they approached us, sighing with relief as their numbers didn’t match ours. Our row-mate either missed the flight or fled the scene, deciding it might be more pleasant to just walk the 1,500 miles.

Evan spent the first hour or so practicing kung fu moves in my lap, karate-chopping the bottle out of his mouth over and over again. Feeding time would be much easier if someone would make straightjackets for infants. I don’t know any parent who couldn’t make use of a Baby Houdini.

“At least he’s not screaming,” Kara said, which Evan took as a challenge.

“EEEEE-AAAAHHH!” he yelled, and for a moment, it would have been quieter to ride on the wings than in the cabin. Kara crammed a binky in his mouth as I bounced him briskly on my knee, beseeching him to be quiet. To our amazement, the nearest passengers looked at us and smiled, content for the time being just not to be us.

Evan noticed the TV screen in front of him and became transfixed. Ordinarily, we try to keep him from watching TV so that his brain won’t get addled like ours, but this was a special occasion.

“Go ahead and get ADD if you want, Buddy,” Kara said. “Just please don’t scream anymore.”

Except for a few minor screeches thereafter, Evan actually stayed pretty quiet for the rest of the flight, deciding to save his screeching credits for the next time you’re in the same move theater as us. In general, there is an inverse relationship between what is good for my life and what is good for this column. In this case, I was glad for the tradeoff.

“Well, this wasn’t so bad after all,” I said to Kara as the plane began its descent.

Evan smiled as if to agree, then puked on my lap. Seasoned parents might tell you that it was actually spit-up, not puke, but the distinction is lost on me.

Kara got a good laugh as she helped me clean up, but Evan evened the score in the rental car line by peeing on her shirt. Maybe it’s not too soon to start teaching him about packing peanuts.

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1 comment:

  1. Wow.... it was a good trip then. Most babies get cranky during the decent when their ears have to adjust for the altitude drop.

    Glad you guys had a good trip.