We started off by arriving at the airport on time, which is kind of boring but allowed us to say a nice goodbye to my partner, who was shocked that all he had to do was pull up to the curb and allow me to take it from there. Like Wonder Woman suiting up, I strapped baby Chaska into the carrier on me, slung the mini-backpack I use as a diaper bag over my shoulders, picked up two-year-old Naya, placing her on one hip, and then, with the free hand, pulled the large suitcase we all shared.
We made it through the kiosk check-in fine, but the security line was where Naya started warming up with her toddler moves. She sat on the floor, which is mostly gross but not a huge deal. Then she began ignoring the limits of the retractable stanchions posted for crowd control. Treating them as arbitrary and frustrating, she pulled on one until it snap-retracted and then she ran under a couple more until I awkwardly wrangled her with the baby attached to me.
I tried to distract her with a counting routine. We got to about ten, at which point she parted numerical ways with me, repeating over and over again, “Two, three, four, sik! Two, three, four, sik!”
She basically said, “Snack!” every thirty seconds or so, but every “snack” option I offered wasn’t what she had in mind.
“Two, three, four, six.” I corrected her.
Once at the front of the line, I was thankful we didn’t have to deal with the body scanner, a benefit of traveling with little ones which almost makes up for the fact you can't enjoy a cup of coffee. We sat on the benches for awhile after I had put my shoes back on, regrouping. Naya watched everyone intently as they passed us, and chose to dart out in the line of people-traffic right when a big dude pushing a garbage bin walked by.
No one got hurt, but it was clear we needed to start moving. Holding her little hand in mine, we headed toward our gate. It was an awkward go because she kept running and stopping, running and stopping. About halfway down the main hall of the terminal, I realized she was right in the middle of Moana singing, and soon she broke free from my hand to sing, “I am Mo-wana!” She then “dove” towards the floor, arms straight behind her as Moana’s are when she swims down for the heart of Te Fiti.
I realized I was dehydrated.
“C’mon Moana! Let’s go get a snack!”
This led to ten very confusing minutes of my life, because she basically said, “Snack!” every thirty seconds or so, but every “snack” option I offered wasn’t what she had in mind, apparently. In my state of dehydration I just kept offering more snack options, which are endless at the airport.
“Do you want some rice?”
“Do you want a muffin?”
“Do you want some chicken?”
“How about a fruit cup?”
And so on.
I finally remembered who was in charge and put an end to it. “We’re going to McDonald’s. You’re getting chicken.”
I said this because there were three new “craft” sandwiches McD’s was offering as advertised on a large banner and I wanted the grilled chicken one with guacamole and pico de gallo. Of course it is foolish to expect your sandwich experience to turn out like the food photos.
We took our McDonald’s bag consisting of chicken tenders, craft chicken sandwich, french fries, milk, and a water over to an empty gate. I thought we were sit-on-the-floor-by-the-window kind of people, but Naya insisted on the empty seats, so I sat down like a mama seal, necessarily reclining with baby Chaska still attached to me. Naya sat next to me, but it was more like climbing back and forth over me and the baby.
Needless to say, in my mama seal-like state on that chair, my craft sandwich experience was a disappointment. The guacamole kept sliding out over the sides onto my hair and down my shirt. Pico de gallo pieces were everywhere except inside the sandwich. This really upset Naya, even though she did nothing about the french fry that was stuck in her hair.
About halfway through this delightful lunch experience, I realized she was holding her milk up to me.
“Careful! Don’t spill!” I cautioned, though, really, I don’t know what I was worried about at that point.
“Cheers!” she said, and I held up my McDonald’s water to match her sentiment.
Soon she had moved over one seat in the empty row at this gate, which meant she was about a minute away from running down the terminal on her own. It was time to wipe off the guacamole and get going.
“Can you do ten jumping jacks, Naya?”
This allowed me time to throw out the majority of the food we had ordered.
“Okay let’s go walking!”
We burned a little more energy, and as our boarding time neared, I figured we should stop by the bathroom. Not for me of course; I was hours away from any hope of a bathroom moment, which is why it was probably good I was dehydrated. But for the girls we needed to minimize any possibility of diaper changing on the plane.
With eleven minutes until the plane boarded, we bypassed the bathroom line to go to the changing table. Now maybe I should have told every single person in line that I was just going to the changing table, but really? No, that should be obvious. And besides, nobody has to wait in line for the sink either. What if I just wanted to brush my teeth and refresh my makeup with two kids attached to me? That’s allowed without waiting in line.
But sure enough, just as we rounded the corner for the changing table, an older lady said to me, “Do you have to go real bad?”
“No,” I said quietly, lifting Naya up to change her diaper.
“Oh, I see. You’re just going to the changing table.”
When you are two, a lot of your words sound like “cock” at this language development stage, including “dog.”
I ignored her, hoping this would lead her to reconsider her approach to interacting with the world that apparently included bathroom interrogation. But really, I had more important things to deal with. All remaining eleven minutes before boarding were taken up in diaper changing.
So I was time conscious when we boarded the plane. Twenty minutes until take off, I told myself. Twenty minutes until nap time. We can do this.
The countdown went something like this; T-minus…
20 minutes: Get comfortable in seats.
18 minutes: Adjust the air vents above us.
16 minutes: Look through the seat cracks to the people behind us.
15 minutes: Look at the airplane magazine.
14 minutes: Throw that magazine on the floor!
12 minutes: Look at the people boarding the plane.
11 minutes: Look at the guy next to us sitting down.
10 minutes: Look at the guy next to us asking if the seat in the row behind us is open.
9 minutes: Look at the empty seat next to us.
8 more minutes!!!!
7 minutes: Look at the dreary day outside the window.
6 minutes: Close the window shade, open the window shade, close the window shade…
5 minutes: Take out yogurt bites.
4 minutes: Eat yogurt bites.
3 minutes: Read Brown Bear.
2 minutes: Shout loudly, “Ra ra cock! Ra ra cock!” because when you are two, a lot of your words sound like “cock” at this language development stage, including “dog.”
1 minute: Say “THE DOG? AWW!” loudly, then throw Brown Bear on the floor.
This is it. It’s take-off time.
The pilot makes his announcement. The attendants do the safety presentation.
I pass the binkie and softie over to Naya, and get Chaska ready for nursing.
“Go, go, faster!” says Naya but with the binkie in her mouth it comes out more like, “Go fukah!”
“Remember what the pilot said? Sit back and relax!”
“We will now be dimming the lights for takeoff,” the pilot adds.
“Naya did you hear that? They’re turning the lights off for nap time! It’s everybody’s nap time!”
The engine begins its thunderous take-off beneath us. Chaska starts to nurse. Naya snuggles into my hip, and within just a few minutes, I am stunned, again, at the miracle of flight, and, equally, at the miracle of a sleeping child.